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The Best Ways To Collect Donations Online & Improve Your Fundraising

Are you a nonprofit looking to improve your online fundraising? Read this guide with practical tips, software reviews, and a list of the services available for online donations.

    Chris Motola
  • UPDATED

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Charitable donations and nonprofit fundraising can benefit from learning the best ways to collect donations online. Online donations can remove a lot of the friction from charitable giving, and the last thing you want is to make it difficult for people to hand you money.

Below we’ll share some practical tips on how to start taking donations online, as well as some of the best ways to collect donations online. We’ll look at some software tools and services that can help you raise funds for your cause. Read on to find out more!

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CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
Donorbox

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  • No monthly fee
  • 1.5% + processor fee per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 1.5% + processor fee per transaction

Visit Site

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PayPal

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  • No monthly fee
  • 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction

Visit Site

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Square

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  • No monthly fee
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Visit Site

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Stripe Payments

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  • No monthly fee
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

Visit Site

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Shopify Lite

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  • Monthly fees start at $9
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Monthly fees start at $9
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

Visit Site

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GoFundMe

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  • No monthly fee
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Visit Site

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Facebook

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  • No monthly fee
  • No additional transaction fees
  • No monthly fee
  • No additional transaction fees

Visit Site

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Square Cash App

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  • No monthly fee
  • 2.75% per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 2.75% per transaction

Visit Site

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Venmo

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  • No monthly fee
  • 1.9% + $0.10 per transaction
  • No monthly fee
  • 1.9% + $0.10 per transaction

Visit Site

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Show Fewer Options

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Collecting Online Donations For Nonprofits: What You Need To Know

Taking donations online has many advantages. These include:

  • Freeing up manpower for other tasks
  • Being able to take donations around the clock
  • Automating processes like recurring payments
  • Storing donor information for future outreach
  • Easily promote and raise awareness of future campaigns

Finding a payment processor that works well with your needs can allow you to do all of these things, often with a nonprofit discount.

Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are also particularly suited for the online format. With crowdfunding, people all over the country — even the world — can donate to your cause. This would be a much harder endeavor if done in person and would otherwise have been only the territory of big international charities (such as the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders).

With crowdsourcing, places such as Facebook make it easier to designate ambassadors/team captains to help you raise funds among close friends and family for events (e.g., charity runs).

5 Best Nonprofit-Friendly Tools To Accept Donations Online

The best nonprofit-friendly tools for accepting donations online combine competitive transaction fees with excellent tools for soliciting donations across a wide variety of websites.

Below, we’ve collected five of our top choices for nonprofits.

1. Donorbox

Donorbox


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Pros

  • One-stop-shop for nonprofits
  • Automatic tax receipts
  • Customizable donation forms
  • Pay as you go

Cons

  • Additional per-transaction platform fee for each use
  • Additional fees for premium services

As the name implies, Donorbox is an all-in-one donation management software.

Donorbox Features

Donorbox features include:

  • Customizable donation forms and buttons
  • Fundraising pages
  • Credit and debit card processing
  • Mobile wallet support for Venmo, ApplePay, PayPal, GooglePay, and Mercado Pago
  • Payment links
  • Support for 44+ currencies and 11 languages
  • 15+ integrations
  • Fundraising coaching (premium)
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising tools (see below)
  • Crowdfunding
  • Membership infrastructure
  • Event ticketing

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a new feature offered by Donorbox that allows your supporters to launch personalized campaign pages to raise money on your behalf.

Donorbox Pricing

  • Transaction fees: 1.5% platform fee + payment processing fee (Stripe or PayPal nonprofit fees, see entries below)
  • Events: 2.95%
  • Memberships: 2.95%
  • Crowdfunding: 1.5%
  • Peer-to-peer: 1.5% main campaign fee, 2.95% for supporters’ campaigns

Commitment

Donorbox uses, by default, a pay-as-you-go model. If you’re not processing transactions with it, it won’t cost you any money. Custom plans may have different requirements.

Donorbox donor data can be exported as a .csv file.

Where Donorbox Really Shines For Collecting Donations

Donorbox has just about everything a nonprofit could ask for in a donations-raising platform, and it continues to innovate new tools like its peer-to-peer campaign option. You (or your donors) will pay a higher price for your transactions than you would if you just went directly to Stripe or PayPal, but if you can make use of the specialized infrastructure Donorbox offers, it’s easily worth it. And if you don’t need it, the pay-as-you-go pricing makes it easy to walk away or use Donorbox seasonally.

Get Started With Donorbox

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2. PayPal

PayPal


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Pros

  • Can accept donations from around the world
  • Massive payments ecosystem
  • Discounted transaction fees for nonprofits
  • Pay as you go

Cons

  • Inconsistent customer service
  • Transaction fee is high for micro-donations

Practically everyone’s heard of PayPal, but maybe not everyone knows that PayPal gives a discount to qualified nonprofit businesses. In fact, PayPal makes it easy for your nonprofit to work with them, no matter its size.

PayPal Features

PayPal features include:

  • Donation buttons
  • Peer-to-peer donation links through PayPal.Me
  • In-person transactions through PayPal Zettle
  • Credit and debit card transactions
  • Mobile wallet support for Venmo, ApplePay, PayPal, and GooglePay
  • Bookkeeping tools
  • Over 200 countries and 25 currencies supported
  • Numerous integrations

PayPal Pricing

PayPal charges registered 501(c)(3)’s 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction.

Commitment

By default PayPal is a pay-as-you-go service, meaning you’re only paying transaction fees. There’s no commitment. Donor data can be exported as a .csv

Where PayPal Really Shines For Collecting Donations

If you’re taking care of a lot of your own software and UI needs, PayPal’s simplicity and ease of setup can make it easy to start taking payments quickly. Just be aware that the cost of microdonations through PayPal is very high.

Get Started With PayPal

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3. Square

Square


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Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Impressive feature set
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent support for in-person transactions
  • Pay as you go

Cons

  • No nonprofit discount on transactions

Popular payments platform Square comes with a host of free business productivity features that can be useful to nonprofits, especially those that also take a lot of donations in person.

Square Features

Square features include:

  • Donation buttons and templates
  • Payment links and QR codes
  • In-person transactions with cost-effective hardware
  • Recurring payments
  • Free online store
  • Event ticketing
  • Credit and debit card transactions
  • Bookkeeping tools
  • Customer engagement tools
  • Numerous integrations

Square Pricing

Square charges 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions, including donations.

Commitment

Square’s pricing is pay-as-you-go, so you’ll only pay for transactions. Customer data can be exported from Square as a .csv file.

Where Square Really Shines For Collecting Donations

While Square doesn’t offer specialized pricing for nonprofits, its feature set is robust enough to handle most of your donation collection needs without having to shell out extra money for software. If you’re mainly accepting donations online, there are cheaper options, but Square’s infrastructure for supporting in-person payments and donations is second to none.

Get Started With Square

Read our in-depth review

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4. Stripe

Stripe Payments


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Pros

  • Can accept donations from around the world
  • Excellent nonprofit discount rate
  • Feature-rich
  • Pay as you go

Cons

  • Nonprofit discount makes some advanced Stripe features more expensive
  • Developers needed for first-party installation

Stripe is one of the most prolific online payment processors, with powerful eCommerce tools. It also offers a number of features which may be tempting for tech-savvy nonprofits.

Stripe Features

Square features include:

  • Custom donation forms and buttons
  • Ready-made donation forms through Stripe Checkout
  • Payment links
  • Limited in-person transaction support with Stripe Terminal
  • Recurring payments and subscription management
  • Free online store
  • Credit and debit card transactions
  • Supports 47 countries and 135 currencies
  • Bookkeeping tools
  • Customer engagement tools
  • Powerful developer tools
  • Numerous integrations

Stripe Pricing

Stripe charges nonprofits 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction.

Commitment

Stripe uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model, so you’ll only pay for transactions. Donor data can be exported from Stripe as a .csv file

Where Stripe Really Shines For Collecting Donations

You may have noticed that some other entries on this list use Stripe as their backend processor, which speaks to how effective its online infrastructure is. Not only that, but Stripe offers one of the better flat-rate transaction fees for nonprofits. Be aware, however, that using Stripe directly comes with a higher learning curve for installation. Another thing to note: accepting the nonprofit fee will make some Stripe features that would normally be free have an additional cost per transaction.

Get Started With Stripe Payments

Read our in-depth review

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5. Shopify

Shopify Lite


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Pros

  • Extensive platform for donations and sales
  • Nonprofit discounts on transactions
  • Automatic tax receipts
  • Easy-to-use

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • Features can get expensive

Shopify offers some of the most thorough eCommerce tools in the business. As it happens, Shopify also has a lot to offer nonprofits. It’s also a convenient way to get access to Stripe’s payment processing tools without having to implement them yourself.

Shopify Features

Shopify features include:

  • Donations through Shopify Payments (Stripe by default)
  • Reduced transaction fees with advanced plans
  • Buy/donate buttons
  • Email marketing
  • Recurring payments
  • POS integrations
  • Extensive eCommerce tools
  • Unlimited user accounts
  • Absurd number of integrations
  • Credit and debit card transactions
  • Automated tax receipts
  • Crowdfunding
  • Blogging functions
  • Application forms for volunteers

Shopify Pricing

Shopify plans range from $9/month to $99/month with a 10% discount if you pay annually. Shopify Payments uses Stripe by default, so it’s possible to take advantage of Stripe’s 2.2% + $0.30 nonprofit transaction rate. Using a different processor will add up to a 2% fee on each transaction in addition to what your processor charges.

Commitment

Shopify is a month-to-month service, so you can cancel at any time. You can export your donor list as a .csv.

Where Shopify Really Shines For Collecting Donations

If you want extensive eCommerce support and don’t want to hire a team of programmers, Shopify is a great all-in-one platform. Yes, there’s a monthly fee, but with numerous tiers to choose from, you can purchase as much Shopify as you need. It also doesn’t hurt that you’ll get access to Stripe’s excellent nonprofit discount rate.

Get Started With Shopify Lite

Read our in-depth review

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Alternative Ways To Collect Donations Online

So far we’ve looked at ways for nonprofits with their own websites to collect donations. Don’t have a website? Check out these alternatives for collecting donations.

 

1. GoFundMe

GoFundMe


Visit Site

Pros

  • World’s largest charitable crowdfunding site
  • No platform fee
  • Donors to 501(c)(3) organizations get a tax-deductible receipt
  • Funds can be kept regardless of whether goal is hit

Cons

  • Poor customer support
  • Some campaigners have difficulty withdrawing funds

GoFundMe has taken on a reputation for raising money for personal causes, but there’s no reason it can’t be used to crowdfund nonprofit agendas.

GoFundMe Features

GoFundMe offers:

  • Crowdfunding tools
  • Versatile campaign uses
  • Keep-what-you-raise terms
  • Tax-deductible receipts to nonprofit donors

GoFundMe Pricing

GoFundMe charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Where GoFundMe Really Shines For Collecting Donations

GoFundMe has a narrow use case, but it’s one of the most straightforward ways to crowdfund a nonprofit. You get to keep everything you raise regardless of whether you hit your funding goals. And while it’s possible to offer rewards to backers, you aren’t required to.

Get Started With GoFundMe

Read our in-depth review

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2. Facebook

Facebook


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Pros

  • No fee to use
  • Plenty of fundraising tools
  • Huge global reach

Cons

  • Users who aren’t Facebook ad-buyers may have reduced visibility

If you’re running a smaller-scale charity or nonprofit, you can take donations without paying anything extra (besides the costs required by your payment processor) if you run your campaign entirely on Facebook. Given that so many people are already on Facebook, making your campaign Facebook-exclusive probably won’t affect your reach at all.

Facebook Features

Facebook’s charitable giving tools require you to first set up a business page and designate it as a nonprofit. From there you’ll have access to:

  • Donate buttons for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram
  • Fundraisers
  • Donation matching
  • Allow other users to fundraise on your behalf
  • Event creation

Facebook Pricing

There are no additional fees for using Facebook Pay to conduct your campaign. However, there are reports that Facebook’s algorithms do not, shall we say, prioritize campaigns that aren’t buying ads.

Where Facebook Really Shines For Collecting Donations

A lot of people use a combination of Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. If you’re a small nonprofit that doesn’t have much of its own infrastructure, leveraging Meta’s venerable social media tools can be a low-cost way to reach your prospective donors.

Get Started With Facebook

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3. Cash App

Square Cash App


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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Popular P2P transaction app
  • Pricing is favorable for micro-donations
  • Cash tags are convenient and easy to remember

Cons

  • Limited functionality

Cash App is Square’s P2P payment app. While limited, it can be an easy way to accept donations without any other infrastructure.

Cash App Features

Cash App offers the following features:

  • App-to-app transactions
  • QR code payments and payment links
  • Unique “cash tag” identifier for easy payments
  • Bitcoin transactions

Cash App Pricing

Like Square, Cash App does not offer any nonprofit discounts. By switching over to a business profile, you can accept non-personal transactions. These cost 2.75% per transaction.

Where Cash App Really Shines For Collecting Donations

Cash App is a popular P2P application that’s on many users’ smartphones, which makes it easy to take donations on the fly. Further, Cash App’s transaction pricing is favorable for micro-donations, making it a good tool for collecting a little bit of money from a lot of people.

Get Started With Square Cash App

Read our in-depth review

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4. Venmo

Venmo


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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Integrates with PayPal ecosystem
  • Good pricing for P2P transactions
  • Built-in social feed for promotions

Cons

  • Fees for gateway-based transactions are high

Venmo is another popular P2P transaction application and is a part of the greater PayPal ecosystem. Venmo’s pricing structure makes it very cost-effective for in-person transactions, less so for website integration.

Venmo Features

Venmo offers the following features:

  • App-to-app transactions
  • QR code payments and payment links
  • Venmo debit card
  • Social feeds
  • Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin transactions

Venmo Pricing

Venmo does not offer nonprofit discounts. Business transactions on Venmo cost 1.9% + $0.10 each if made through the Venmo app. Venmo transactions made through PayPal Checkout or Braintree cost 3.49% + $0.49.

Where Venmo Really Shines For Collecting Donations

Venmo can be a low-cost way to collect donations so long as you’re making them directly with the Venmo app. The social feed aspect of Venmo, while controversial for individuals, can be a major asset for nonprofits that want to promote their activity to other Venmo users.

Get Started With Venmo

Read our in-depth review

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Can You Collect Donations Online For Free?

It is possible to collect donations online for free, but this typically means passing on the transaction fees to your donors. Someone is still bearing the cost of the transaction.

Whether or not this is worth doing depends on your fundraising strategy. Passing on costs to your donors requires disclosure and adherence to the policies of the processor. Sometimes simple and cheap services don’t provide the breadth or depth of features that could help you reach a larger pool of donors.

For more on nonprofit payment processing strategy, check out The Complete Guide To Nonprofit Payment Processing.

8 Tips How To Get More Donations Online & Improve Your Fundraising

There are a lot of good causes in the world, and while yours is just as worthy as the rest, the fact is, every one of these causes is drawing from a limited pool of charity money so they can do their version of good. In other words, you’ll have to compete with them.

We admit that we don’t know the secret to fundraising success, but we have come across various tips that might help in the course of researching this article. We’ve compiled them below:

  • Have A Compelling Story: Fundraising is a matter of the heart, so if you can’t reach your potential donor’s emotions, you probably won’t be able to get them to open their wallets. Think about what motivated you to spend an enormous amount of your own time on your charity and write that down in one sentence. Then expand that one sentence into a couple of paragraphs. Let the paragraphs sit for a few hours or days, then reread them. If they move you, then they’ll likely move others. Understand that this is supposed to be hard, but it’s important that you get this one right.
  • Start With Those You Know: Your friends and family are the ones most likely to understand your passion, so start with them. And don’t forget that donation doesn’t always mean money — see if they can donate their time too. You’ll need volunteers to help you do all the work that’s ahead.
  • Use Social Media: Remember those friends and family that you asked for donations? Ask them to donate their social media contacts too. Make sure you have accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else you can think of (and have time to update). Ask your friends and family to spread the word by liking, retweeting, and generally publicizing your cause outside your immediate circles.
  • Set Up A Focused Donation Page: The donation page where people enter their donation information should be laser-focused. It’s the place for people to send you money, so there should be no distractions.
  • Make The Donation Process Easy: Make it easy for your donors to give you money. Give them options on how they want to pay, whether it’s debit or credit card, ACH, bank transfers, or even PayPal. The fewer clicks/buttons they have to hit, the better.
  • Track Your Donations: Investing in quality software to track your donations can help you maximize the money you receive. For example, Quickbooks offers some useful features for nonprofits.
  • Contact Reporters: Once you’ve exhausted your friends and family, you’re ready to expand your circle of possible donors. The fastest way to do this is to contact your local reporters. They’re always looking for a good story, and they already have social media accounts or even specific emails set up to collect possible story ideas. Just look at the byline in newspaper articles or watch the local news to find out what these are, then contact them, sending them your already-prepared summary of your charitable cause. Don’t give up too easily if you don’t hear back. Follow up a couple of times, if necessary.
  • Tell Your Donors What You Did With Their Money: When people donate, they want to know if they’ve actually made a difference. So tell them. Give updates on your social media accounts. Post pictures and videos of what you’ve been able to accomplish while also telling them what more you still have to do. This way, when you do have to go back and ask for more money, it’ll be easier because they know that their money had an impact.

What Is The Best Way To Collect Donations Online?

Hopefully, you now have a better sense of how to get donations online. Ultimately taking donations online means payment cards, ACH/bank transfers, and similar. With the tools we profiled in this article, you can easily see and compare your costs of using such services. And if you wish to analyze donor data, we’ve touched on software platforms that can help too.

Just in case your fundraising efforts fall short of expectations, however, you won’t necessarily have to give up. There might be other sources of money (such as loans for nonprofits and grants for nonprofits) that you can draw from. If you’re successful in getting a loan or a grant, that money might be able to tide you over until you can show some actual results from your charitable efforts. After that, you can try again with online donations.

Whatever you do, be persistent. Nothing worth doing is easy, so if you feel strongly about helping others in some way, keep at it, and, one day, you’ll get the donations you need.

FAQs: How To Collect Donations Online

Is PayPal or Venmo better for nonprofits?

PayPal’s discounted nonprofit rate makes it a better choice for typical online transactions. However, so long as you’re sticking to peer-to-peer transactions, Venmo may be a cheaper option for limited campaigns.

What is the best way to accept donations online?

The best way to accept donations online is through a payment processor that matches your campaign’s size and strategy.

Can I accept donations on my website?

You can accept donations on your website by using a payment processor that offers a payment gateway. Donations can be collected in a similar fashion to for-profit transactions, although many processors do offer tools specifically for donations.

In Summary: 5 Best Nonprofit-Friendly Tools To Accept Donations Online

  1. Donorbox:
    • No monthly fee
    • 1.5% + processor fee per transaction
  2. PayPal:
    • No monthly fee
    • 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction
  3. Square:
    • No monthly fee
    • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  4. Stripe Payments:
    • No monthly fee
    • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
  5. Shopify Lite:
    • Monthly fees start at $9
    • 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

    Alternative Ways To Collect Donations Online

  1. GoFundMe:
    • No monthly fee
    • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  2. Facebook:
    • No monthly fee
    • No additional transaction fees
  3. Square Cash App:
    • No monthly fee
    • 2.75% per transaction
  4. Venmo:
    • No monthly fee
    • 1.9% + $0.10 per transaction
Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in personal and business loans and financial health, Chris Motola has been writing about small business finance and payments for over 5 years. He has been cited in various industry publications, including Forbes Advisor, GoBankingRates, and Medium. Chris is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
Chris Motola
View Chris Motola's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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