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September 20, 2013

Dharma "Lite" and Flint

Easily Process Transactions on a Smartphone or Tablet

Dharma Dharma Merchant Services offers a number of mobile commerce solutions – wireless terminals with integrated printers, card reading swipers for tablets and iPhones, and virtual terminal access from browser based phones, but we have partnered with a new provider that allows Visa and MasterCard card data to be captured by an iPhone/iPad without a swiper!  Our new Dharma “Lite” service, provided by Flint, can be reviewed here. The rates are very simple – 1.95% for debit cards, and 2.95% for credit cards – with no monthly fees, setup, PCI compliance, or annual fees – and the application process is quick and easy.  To be clear, this service is not connected to our standard merchant account service and is best utilized by merchants that do not process consistently or who do not require enhanced support.
Dharma has also just launched a new “supplies” portal for our retail (card present) merchants that can be accessed here. The link can also be found under the “customer support” tab along the top of our home page.   You will be asked to create your own account using the credentials of “DMSgrp1” as the Membership ID and “Axces4dms” as the Membership password.  Once the account is created, merchants can order receipt paper, replacement cables, imprinters, etc. directly from our Atlanta based supplier.
Also, Dharma will be exhibiting at several events in the next few months.  Join us October 10 in San Francisco for the Non-Profit BootCamp Conference where we will be sharing with charities and non-profits about Dharma's fundraising programs.  Dharma Travels to Los Angeles October 19 - 20 for the LA Green Festival where we will both exhibit and sponsor the festival and then back to San Francisco on November 9-10 for the SF Green Festival.  We are thrilled to sponsor the events this year for the first time. Dharma will have limited space available in our San Francico Green Festival booth space for a couple of our merchants - the cost is $500.00 total for both days of the event. You can market your product, sell directly to the public and mingle with our awesome sustainable community. Contact us for additional information! Hope to see you there!

August 15, 2013

What’s New! Marketplace Fairness Act

Internet SAles Tax

We like to keep our merchants and partners informed about rules and regulations that affect how payments are transacted and this month we are writing about recent legislation which has already passed in the Senate and is working its way through the House called the Marketplace Fairness Act.   This law would require ecommerce merchants to collect and remit sales tax to the jurisdiction of their customers’ location, and not to the state in which the merchant is located.    This tax collection exemption has been in place since the advent of the Internet as a way to incent the whole online commerce industry, but spurred by the budgetary woes of the Great Recession it is estimated that states have missed out on about $11.4 billion of tax revenue in 2012 alone.  Of course, brick and mortar merchants have always complained about the disadvantage of having to compete with their online counterparts that were exempted from charging a sales tax.

But, dear online merchants, before you hit the panic button there are a few caveats:  1) - this would only affect merchants whose gross revenues exceed $1 million per year and 2) – states will be required to simplify their tax codes with the goal of making tax collection easier.    There are already companies providing the technology to compute and collect these taxes from an ecommerce merchant, so there should be plenty of integrated solutions available if and when the MFA becomes law.  Stay tuned…

August 15, 2013

Support Tip of the Month - Settle Your Account Everyday!

cutoff 2

Did you know there is one final step to send your daily transactions to our bank for processing after the original point of sale transaction? This final step is called “batching out” or “settling,” and is necessary in order to transmit your daily sales to the bank for deposit. Until that point, all of the transactions are stored in a “batch” in your point of sale system (e.g. terminal, gateway, or software). The settlement sends the batch to our bank so they can process the transactions and deposit the funds to your bank account (usually on a 2-business day timeline for Visa/MC/Discover). We strongly urge you to batch out or settle your transactions daily. If you do not send the transactions to the bank within a certain amount of time (usually a week), the original authorizations may expire and the card would need to be re-run.

One of our merchants recently discovered the importance of batching when they neglected to batch out their terminals after a one-time event. This merchant lost all of their sales, totaling over $10,000! You can avoid this by making sure to be aware of your batch times and monitor your funding on a regular basis to avoid this type of scenario.

The good news is that most equipment can be set to automatically settle, in which case you don’t have to worry about manually doing it yourself. If you are processing online or through a gateway, the majority of gateways are set to automatically settle, and you can easily update the time of settlement. For example, if you process with Authorize.net, the default settlement time (a.k.a. Transaction Cutoff Time) is set at 3pm PST.

If you process with a stand-alone terminal, it may automatically settle or you may need to do it manually, depending on how the account was set up. We try to make sure to work with you during the initial setup to ensure the terminal is configured properly for settlement. If you choose to auto-settle, we’ll set it at a certain time every day. If you choose to manually settle, it is your responsibility to batch out the terminal at the end of every business day. If you have any questions about your settlement time or if you are not receiving your funding within 2 business days of processing, please contact Dharma at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will assist you in getting everything set up correctly.

August 15, 2013

Merchant of the Month - Local Harvest

Local Harvest FINAL

The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Dharma client and partner Local Harvest is well aware of this and developed a wesite to help consumers find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food locally.  LocalHarvest is America's #1 organic and local food website. They maintain a definitive and reliable "living" public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. The Local Harvest search engine helps consumers find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. The Local Harvest online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.  Dharma is grateful for the service Local Harvest provides for local farmers across the country.  And, we love that we can search for practically any products we need through the lOcal Harbvest website: Organic veggies, fruits, eggs, honey, seeds, meat and fish, beeswax candles and hundreds of additional products.

Local Harvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketed family farms. Local Harvest now has more than 20000 members, and they are growing by about 20 new members every day. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer, beekeeper and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet.

"The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy," says Mr. Payet.  "The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relationship with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms."

The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening US consumers to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.  Local Harvest is also the creator of the CSAware software platform that allows farmers to easily market their products and manage Community Supported Agriculture programs for members. CSAware helps farmers get their products to market so they have more time for the fields, according to Erin Barnett, director of Local Harvest.  But as companies rush to cash in on shoppers’ desires for organic and local food, Barnett strongly encourages customers to do their homework and watch out for websites that “supplement” local foods or don’t inform customers about where their food comes from or what sort of arrangements they have with farmers. Definitely check out the Local Harvest website to find fresh, local farm products near you.

June 14, 2013

5 Tools for Mobile Marketing Success

4AGC Smartphone Donation Page


Have you embraced mobile marketing yet? SteamFeed recently reported that 37% of internet usage in the U.S. is on a mobile device – that is a huge demographic your good cause could be missing out on if it isn’t mobile-friendly. Our friends at 4AGoodCause compiled a list of the top 5 tools you need to use to make you mobile marketing strategy a success.


1. Responsive Web Design

2. QR codes

3. Mobile Friendly Donation Forms

4. Phone Lists

5. Mobile Analytics


Click here to learn more about how to maximize your fundraising  potential with mobile marketing.

June 12, 2013

Merchant of the Month - ECOLunchbox

Merchant of the Month - ECOLunchbox 1ECOlunchbox was founded out of a California eco-mom’s need and desire: a need for sustainable and non-toxic lunchware for her children’s school lunches & a desire to reduce lunchtime waste and our world’s increasing dependence on plastics. Chief Eco-Mom and Founder Sandra Harris says the company’s mission is to “reduce the world’s dependence on plastics by providing high-quality, plastic-free alternatives.”  The unique lunchware line is designed to be the ultimate “free lunch”:  plastic-free, waste-free, vinyl-free, PVC-free, sweatshop-free, lead-free and generally free of all toxins. 

The widespread use of plastic is causing huge environmental Merchant of the Month - ECOLunchbox 2problems and there is growing concern about plastic's health risks, especially for children. Evidence is growing that chemicals leach out of plastics used in food and drink storage.   Scientists believe that these plastic chemicals are harmful to humans, especially in children whose systems are more vulnerable. The evidence of health risks from certain plastics is increasingly appearing in established, peer-reviewed scientific journals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is linked to behavior issues, obesity, hormone and thyroid problems, diabetes, and even kidney and heart conditions.  

A lunch waste study commissioned by ECOlunchbox has determined that a typical American family, packing lunch with plastic baggies, disposable napkins and utensils as well as pre-packed snacks and juice sacks, discards approximately 4,320 pieces of trash annually!  ECOlunchbox calculates the actual costs of all this lunchtime trash to be $400 annually per family.  And that doesn’t include the external costs that this plastic does to our eco-system.

Going green at lunchtime with stainless steel ECOlunchbox bentos and artisan bags, napkins and other eco-friendly accessories saves money – plus it’s healthy for people and the planet.  ECOlunchbox is grateful that through the use of its eco-friendly lunchware families throughout the United States and internationally have prevented the disposal of millions of pieces of plastic lunchtime trash.  ECOlunchboxes has won rave reviews and has been featured in USA Today, Food & Wine magazine, the Today Show, Ode Magazine, Diablo Magazine, as well as many newspapers and online publications. Thanks Sandra,  for seeing a need and creating a product that keeps toxic chemicals away from our food and keeps plastic out of a landfill!  Dharma is thrilled to support ECOlunchbox and eco-moms everywhere!

June 12, 2013

Partner of the Month – Green America

Green America NEWSince Dharma Merchant Service’s inception, our intention has been to align ourselves with organizations that have made significant contributions to educating and promoting sustainable choices that benefit people and the planet.  One such organization is Green America of which our founder has been a member for 20 years! (Even back when it was  Co-op America). Now Dharma is a member of their Green Business Network and we offer our services to many Green America  business members.   You might even know them by their work - The National Green Pages, Green American Magazine and the Green Festivals in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

Dharma has embraced their passionate efforts to do what is right and we wholeheartedly urge our community to become part of this powerful organization.

Individuals can join Green America at www.GreenAmerica.org.

Membership includes world-changing resources that help you use your economic power to build a better world.

Businesses can join the Green Business Network at Green America at  www.GreenBusinessNetork.org.  

Membership helps businesses grow, access conscious consumers, network with other businesses and gain the Green Business Certification. 

June 12, 2013

Support Tip of the Month - Daily Velocity Filter

Support Tip of the Month - Daily Velocity FilterWelcome to the first ever support tip of the month! As the Support Manager here at Dharma, I learn something new every day and there’s never a dull moment. Every month I will be sharing the lesson I found to be the most influential and impactful for our merchants based on real-world support cases.

My first tip is inspired by one of our merchants who was recently the victim of online fraud on their website. This non-profit merchant was hit with 13,700 fraudulent transactions and the associated $2,065 in processing fees. This is a specific type of fraud where criminals use your website to test credit card numbers generated by a computer program. They can run an endless amount of transactions for small amounts (Sometimes for only $0.01!) to see if the numbers are valid, which will cause your authorization charges to pile up.  In addition, once the fraudster discovers the legitimate card numbers, the actual credit cards are compromised and can be used for further fraudulent transactions. The cardholders are stuck with the nightmare of stolen credit card info and the merchant might get stuck with multiple chargebacks.

If you are processing through the Authorize.net gateway, this type of fraud can be prevented simply by setting your Daily Velocity Filter. This allows you to limit the total number of transactions received per day. All transactions received in excess of your established threshold will be processed according to the filter action you select, such as “hold for review.” To enable your Daily Velocity Filter, please follow the instructions here. For more helpful tips, please visit the FAQ section of our website.

Thank you! Nicole

June 12, 2013

What’s New! Card Associations Settlement and MasterCard Fee increase

Whats New - logo-MasterCardThere are a couple of things to note this month about the credit card processing industry.  The first is that a number of states have filed objections to the proposed $7.25 billion settlement that is currently on the table against the Card Associations (Visa and MasterCard).   Seems like they don’t like the fact that this settlement includes an exemption against further litigation if the court approves it in its current form.  A final judgment is due to be passed in September.  Meanwhile, the Card Associations have asked the court to rule that current Interchange fees are legal, which would prohibit merchants from pursuing separate damages beyond the proposed settlement.  What does this mean for you?  Nothing yet.  We will keep you posted about further developments and what this judgment may mean to you.  

Settlement update part deux – The second part to this lawsuit provides relief to all merchants who participate in the settlement in the form of a 10 basis point reduction in percentage rate fees for all Visa/MasterCard credit card sales generated from July 31, 2013 through March 30 2014.  These amounts will be administered by a third party appointed by the court and paid to each merchant in one lump sum after that period.  We will send more information in future newsletters. 

As far as adjustments to any current fees, MasterCard has announced that they will increase the NABU (Network Access and Brand Usage) fee from the current .0185 cents per transaction to .0195.  For Dharma’s merchants this is a pass-through cost (no markup ) and will take effect in the July billing period.   

May 01, 2013

5 reasons to Choose eCommerce Vs. PayPal:

5 reasons to Choose eCommerce Vs. PayPal:

One of the biggest questions nonprofits face when putting together their websites is whether to use Paypal to accept donations or get a merchant account with an ecommerce company. While PayPal has its strengths, it is not always the best choice for nonprofits. An account with an ecommerce company offers your nonprofit more advantages, fewer issues and the opportunity to raise more money online.  Dharma partner 4AGoodCause offers the following 5 reasons to use an ecommerce company versus PayPal:

PayPal may be one of the biggest but that doesn't mean it's right for you!  Read the full article here. 

February 25, 2013

Featured Merchant: Planting Justice

Planting JusticePlanting Justice is an income-generating non-profit that is creating green jobs in edible landscaping and grassroots organizing, while increasing access to healthy food, building community, and offering environmental education and green entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged communities. Their urban food forest program produces low-cost, organic, nutritious food in communities that structurally have little access to it. They empower urban residents to create sustainable, replicable gardens that demonstrate how it is possible to grow a complete nutritional diet safely and profitably in the city.

Planting Justice also works with local schools on programs that build skills in critical thinking, community organizing, public speaking, ecological entrepreneurship, and permaculture design, empowering youths to change the way they identify with the food they consume and strengthen their collective power to affect structural change in their communities. They work with community groups like The Canal Alliance, a comprehensive community resource center that has been serving Marin's low-income immigrant populations since 1982, to build sustainable gardens. They are also working with the Insight Garden Program at San Quentin State Prison to provide inmates with job-training skills on urban permaculture and organic food production.

Their "Transform Your Yard" program turns empty space into abundant edible landscapes and living classrooms for homeowners, creates green jobs for local youth that train them for a future in permaculture design and urban farming, and subsidies edible gardens for low-income families. Check out the fascinating pictures that show the remarkable progress over time of turning a plain yard into a thriving food oasis, and imagine this at your house!

January 18, 2013

Featured Merchant: Flora Grubb Gardens

FloraGrubbIn addition to sharing the magic of San Francisco's own Flora Grubb Gardens, we'd like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to Flora Grubb for being recognized as one of 11 recipients for Martha Stewart's first annual American Made Awards! It was a well-deserved honor, as FGG is not just a nursery but an oasis of creativity, beauty and innovation.  With a mission of "introducing a real peace and joy in city dwellers' lives through the act of gardening", FGG accomplishes that by carrying delightful decor, beautiful pottery and radiant indoor and outdoor plants. There's even a Ritual Coffee (another beloved Dharma client) cafe right in the 28,000-square-foot solar-powered, open-air store. They offer garden design, horticulture and floral services but also specialize in free workshops where their expert staff teaches ways to cultivate natural beauty in gardens and homes.  The Dharma team enjoyed a field trip to FGG to when moving into our new office, and we enjoy our beautiful plants every day. We're so grateful to be working with them!

October 11, 2012

Dharma Tours Ritual Coffee

Ritual Logo WHITE

Dharma partner SFMade is an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting San Francisco local manufacturer’s.  Our friends at SFMade offered public tours of its member merchants this summer to highlight merchants who manufacture, create or bake products within the city limits.  SFMade has over 350 members dedicated to creating job opportunities right here at home.  We were surprised to learn how many food and beverage producers were headquartered in San Francisco.  One of our favorites was San Francisco based single-source coffee producer Ritual Coffee.  With 4 retail locations in the Bay Area and a new roasting facility located in SOMA, Ritual has brought the art of artisan coffee roasting directly to SF coffee connoisseurs and has quickly built an intensely loyal fan base. 

“Coffee is a delicious, sweet, complex fruit. Plucked off its tree, it has a range of flavors that reflect its upbringing--cultivar, soil, pruning, and care,” comments Eileen Hassi, Ritual Coffee’s founder.   “We work with producers who care for their trees as they would their children, giving them both the love and attention that they need to live up to their full potential. We walk with these producers through their small farms. We sleep on the farm, we breathe the farm, trying as hard as we can to understand how our producers make magic happen in our cups.  Our continual mission is to present these coffees to ourRitual Employees SMALL customers in the same sublime condition that we tasted them, both by serving them seasonally, to preserve their freshness, and by roasting them with the intention of accentuating the intrinsic qualities within.”  Eileen Hassi shared her belief that conscious businesses can serve as anchors for communities, both for the employees and the  customers.  Eileen's goal is to see Ritual Coffee grow organically and in harmony with her community. "I enjoy when regular customers meet, fall in love, marry or bring in their children to the stores."  

At right, a few of the Ritual Coffee community of  employees: Bryce Navin, production
Kaleena Stoddard, production manager
Eileen Hassi, owner
 and Ben Kaminsky, director of Quality Control

Ritual is unique in its commitment to buying coffee direct from coffee producers. Of the  166,000 pounds of coffee Ritual roasted last year, nearly 90% came from producers they work with directly.  Buying direct enables Ritual to source the very best coffees while ensuring that the quality-focused producers are rewarded for their hard work.  It also means that when you're drinking their coffee, you're only one step away from the producer responsible for this exquisite coffee.  Not only does this produce a delicious cup of coffee, but it also produces a fair and direct profit for the farmers growing the coffee  beans.  Hassi believes that it isnt necessary to give up integrity in exchange for great taste.  In fact, operating conciously and buying direct from the source has helped Ritual Coffee build a dedicated following in the Bay Area and beyod.  You can help celebrate Fair Trade Month in October by dropping by your local Ritual Coffee location or visiting there website.


September 26, 2012

SFMade and Buying Local

sfmadeBy now, the idea of buying locally is imprinted on the minds of most sustainably minded consumers.  Buying food and products sourced from local vendors and stores close to your home (and preferably within your city limits) is smart AND eco-friendly for many reasons;

1.Local manufacturing and production of goods is vastly more eco-friendly
because the product doesn’t have to travel miles on a truck to get to you OR to be manufactured.

2.The money from your purchase stays in your community, allowing the business owner to reinvest in the community by hiring new employees and upgrading their facilities

3.Farm fresh produce from your local farmer’s market is picked at the peak of freshness and tastes delicious!

Organizations like SFMade know this better than anyone.  SFMade is an organization whose mission is to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco  that sustains companies producing locally-made products, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce.  Similar organizations have sprung up across the country in places as diverse as New York and Detroit to Chicago and Philadelphia;  all dedicated to promoting local manufacturing jobs.  Over the summer, I was able to tour several local SFMade merchants operating within San Francisco and was amazed to see the diversity of businesses operating and manufacturing products right here in the city limits.   From food and beverages to  clothing and accessories, I was amazed by how much actual manufacturing is done right here in San Francisco.   I will be profiling a few of these local businesses over the next week to share how they use local resources to produce superior, sustainable products.  Do you know of “Locally Made” organizations in your city?  If so, please let us know in the comments section below.

September 19, 2012

Featured Merchant: Sungevity

Danny Kennedy Graphic smallThis month we’re honored to feature Sungevity, one of many of our beloved clients here at Dharma. One because we love solar, two because we love founder Danny Kennedy (the brilliant, passionate, orange-loving, former Greenpeace activist Aussie) and three because we love Danny's new book: Rooftop Revolution (How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Our Planet - from Dirty Energy).

Sungevity is a solar power installation company that revolutionized the market with a virtual quote system: you can learn about solar energy and get a free, personalized iQuote for a lease on a system within 24 hours--all online before you make a payment. They use satellite images and Infographic smaerial photography to assess your roof remotely, and accurately determine your home's solar potential. Sungevity consultants then personally designs two to five system options for you, taking into account all available rebates and incentives in your area to provide you with the most accurate quote available. In addition, Sungevity offers leasing programs, so you avoid the large upfront cost of buying solar panels and instead pay a monthly fee to Sungevity, which owns and maintains the panels. The leases are structured so the home owner's electricity bills will go down because of the electricity generated by the solar panels.

We’re reading Danny’s book the Rooftop Revolution (How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Our Planet - from Dirty Energy) right now, and will follow up with a book review in Books We Love on our blog. So far it’s incredible, and we highly recommend it!  For more information check out the book's website, or purchase it on Amazon.

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