FAQs for Candidates
What is NYC Votes Contribute?
NYC Votes Contribute is a universal online credit card processing platform available to all candidates for City office. Contribute is aimed at simplifying the process of accepting, reporting, and documenting credit card contributions for your campaign, in compliance with NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) regulations. Candidates for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president, and City Council can use the platform after registering with the CFB. Contribute can be accessed through any browser on desktop, tablet, or mobile, and you can embed it in your campaign’s website.
Signing up for Contribute
How do I sign up for Contribute?
To use Contribute, you must be a registered candidate with the CFB. To start, create a candidate account on the homepage.
Stripe is a payment services provider which enables campaigns to accept credit card contributions through Contribute. Stripe processes payments received via credit card online, allowing your campaign to solicit contributions. You must create an account with Stripe to use Contribute. If you or your contributors experience any issues with Stripe, you must resolve them directly with Stripe, not the CFB. Use of Contribute and Stripe is completely voluntary.
What campaign information should I have ready to sign up for a Stripe account?
After you’ve set up your campaign’s Contribute account, you will need to create a Stripe account. You can do this by visiting your campaign Account page. Scroll to “Manage Stripe Account,” where a button will prompt you to connect with Stripe.
To create your Stripe account, you must have the following campaign information handy:
To comply with federal law, Stripe requires that a customer provide proof of identity — as is common on most merchant account applications — including an individual’s social security number and date of birth. We recommend you use the candidate’s personal information for your campaign’s application. Stripe’s website has an explanation of why it requires this information, which you can find on Stripe’s support site. Neither Contribute nor the CFB stores or has access to any of this information.
Does Stripe charge processing fees?
Yes, for each successful charge, Stripe withholds fees and deposits the remainder in your designated campaign bank account. You can find more information about Stripe’s pricing on Stripe’s website. You will receive a monthly statement from Contribute, which will show you the amount of fees paid. Your campaign will be responsible for reporting these fees as expenditures in C-SMART.
Collecting Credit Card Contributions Using Contribute
Does Contribute or Stripe require a campaign to have a separate merchant account?
Contribute does not require a separate merchant account through a bank in order to be able to accept credit card contributions. It connects to your campaign’s Stripe account, which serves as both a merchant account and a credit card processor. Stripe deposits funds directly into your campaign’s designated bank account, net of fees.
How do I embed Contribute on my campaign’s website?
After you have connected your Stripe account, you can embed Contribute on your own campaign website. Make sure your campaign’s website has been disclosed to the CFB as part of your registration.
NOTE: The iframe embed will only function properly if you have already created a Stripe account and linked it to your Contribute account. CFB staff will not be able to assist your campaign with technical support related to the technical aspects of your website.
Do contributors receive confirmation that their contributions have been processed?
Contributors will receive a "Thank You" email after making a successful contribution. An identical version of this email will be automatically sent to the campaign.
How can I initiate refunds to contributors?
For prohibited contributions (i.e. corporate or over-the-limit contributions), refunds must always be made via certified check from your committee bank account.
Where can I see a list of my contributions by date/time? Where can I find a history of all transfers that have taken place from Stripe to my bank account?
On the Account screen under NYC Votes Contribution Data, you have the option to email yourself an up to date contributions spreadsheet to check on your fundraising progress. Additionally, you will receive monthly account statements via email.
How long does it take for contributions to be deposited in my committee bank account?
Transfers to your committee bank account are made daily and are composed of contributions received two days prior. Note that your first transfer might take up to a week to process.
Compliance and Disclosure
Will Contribute help me with the CFB’s public disclosure requirements?
Contribute helps by collecting the contributor information the CFB requires for compliance and disclosure purposes including employment information, “doing business” status, and the contribution affirmations required by law.
How do I upload contribution data and documentation from Contribute to C-SMART?
The data and documentation for contributions collected using Contribute must be imported into C-SMART. In your campaign account, go to the Contributions tab. At the top of the screen you will either see a count of contributions yet to be uploaded to C-SMART or information indicating you have no contributions to upload. To upload contribution data and backup documentation to C-SMART:
WARNING: If you do not perform these steps prior to the submission of your next disclosure statement, you will miss the opportunity to claim eligible contributions for match. Failure to merge duplicate name records may result in over-the-limit contributions, subject to penalty.
Does Contribute only accept matchable contributions?
No, Contribute can receive out-of-city and non-matchable contributions from any legal contributor. It is your responsibility to decide which contributions to claim for match, and to report all contributions correctly using C-SMART.
Will Contribute allow the contributor to submit a contribution if all fields are not completed?
Contribute will prompt your contributors for all the information required for compliance with CFB requirements for collecting and documenting contributions by credit card.
Security & Privacy
What security features does Contribute have in place?
The payment processor Contribute uses is called Stripe. Financial data, including credit card information, is stored with Stripe, which is certified as a PCI Level 1 Service Provider. See information about Stripe’s security features on Stripe’s support site. Additional data collected through the app and stored for compliance purposes is SSL encrypted, and the app itself is securely hosted.
Does Contribute store my financial information?
All of your campaign’s financial information, including the sign-up information you provide to Stripe, is stored securely with Stripe and only with Stripe. Contribute retains only basic information about each contributor and each contribution that enables your campaign to complete your public disclosure reporting to the CFB.
For questions regarding committee registration, public disclosure, and compliance with the Campaign Finance Act or CFB Rules, contact the Candidate Services Unit at 212-409-1800 or CSUmail@nyccfb.info.