How can I use PayPal for Recurring Donations

ATTENTION: Paypal has recently changed their support process and the email method to set up recurring transactions on your PayPal account is not working. You should still be able to call them directly and get recurring transactions added to your account as explained here. We are reviewing the PayPal processes and will update this article as soon as possible.

In order to automatically initiate recurring donations via PayPal - not asking the donor to go through PayPal every time - you need to have Reference Transactions enabled by PayPal for your account. Here are the ways you can do it:

Please Note: These are the steps as PayPal wants/needs you to perform. To successfully enable Recurring Donations, make sure you read through and follow this document to the end. If you don't, if you miss a step, it can delay completion of your Recurring Donation option with PayPal.

Email Application

  1. Log into your PayPal account.
  2. (Quick Access Method for Email Contact): Click this link to go directly to the Email Contact Form.
    • Choose the Topic: PayPal Credit.
    • Choose topic: My Account.
    • Choose sub-topic: Update my information.
    • Skip to Step 4
      Screenshot of the PayPal Support Form
  3. Dashboard Method for Email Contact (Do this if Step 2 doesn't work)
    •  Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Contact.

    • Select PayPal Credit.

    • Select My Account.

    • Select Update My Information.

    • Scroll to the bottom and select Email Us.

  4. Copy and paste the message below, inserting your PayPal email address and name.

    Example Message to send to PayPal


    Could you please enable Reference Transactions on my PayPal account (email:

    I need this feature to enable the recurring donation option with MobileCause (

    Kind regards,

    Your Name
  5. Wait for a reply.
    • If it is an autoresponder message, like the one below, you need to respond before your request actually goes to Paypal:

      Respond to the Autoresponder

      PayPal may send you a response using an auto-response message with links to documentation.

      In this auto-response is the following:

      If we haven’t answered your question, please reply to this email and our team will answer you as soon as possible.

      As that says, you also need to respond to the auto-response before your support ticket will be submitted with PayPal

Phone Call

The simplest way to begin the process of having PayPal enable Reference Transactions is to call PayPal Support. You can find the phone number listed here.

When you call the number, specifically tell PayPal that you are calling to turn on “Reference Transactions” on your account so that you can be transferred to a PayPal Specialist.

They may try to help you set up recurring payments through a button, and that is not what you want. They need to transfer you to a specialist, who will ask you for your PayPal account information, and then tell you that they have filed a ticket, and you will hear back from PayPal via email on whether Reference Transactions have been enabled or not.
Will My Account Qualify for Reference Transactions?

PayPal has set requirements that need to be met before they will enable Reference Transaction support on your account. They do not publish these requirements and the requirements may be different for different organizations.

Enable Your Recurring Payments in MobileCause

Once you have enabled Reference Transactions through PayPal, you need to add the functionality to your MobileCause account.

Go to the account Settings.

Select Payment Methods and click on Enable Recurring Payments on the PayPal line.

Then confirm on the window that appears, by:

  • Reading the information
  • Putting a check in the box, stating that you have enabled it with PayPal
  • Click the Enable Recurring Payments button.

Your PayPal line in your Payment Methods section should now be complete to accept both one time and recurring gifts.