How to Set Up Donations on Twitch

There are more ways to get donations on Twitch besides PayPal

Comic book man in a Super Mario Bros video game world getting gold coins
There are several ways to get donations while playing video games on Twitch. yuoak / DigitalVision Vectors

Accepting donations from viewers is a popular way to earn additional income while streaming on Twitch. Despite its popularity though, setting up a donation system is more complicated than simply enabling a big purple Donate button (which Twitch unfortunately doesn't support) on a Twitch user profile.

Users are required to think outside the box and use features such as Twitch's first-party bits/cheers system or one of the many third-party options made available by other companies. Here are the four biggest donation solutions for Twitch streamers and how to use them.

Twitch Bits

Bits (also called cheers) are Twitch's official donation system. They're a little more complicated than simply sending some cash to a streamer with a push of a button though and are only available for Twitch Affiliates and Partners. Bits are essentially a form of digital currency that are purchased directly from Twitch with real-world money using Amazon Payments.

These bits can then be used from within a Twitch stream's chat box to trigger a special audio and visual alert onscreen. As a reward for using their bits, users earn special badges which are displayed alongside their names in the stream's chat. The more bits they use, the higher the rank of the badges they earn. The Twitch streamer earns $1 for every 100 bits used during their stream.

  1. To enable bits on your Twitch partner or affiliate channel, open the Partner Settings tab on your dashboard.

  2. Locate the group of settings on this page called Cheers and click on Enable Cheering with Bits.

  3. Viewers can now use their bits in your channel by typing cheer and the number of bits they wish to use. For example, cheer5 would use five bits while cheer1000 would use 1,000.

PayPal Donations on Twitch

One of the easiest ways to accept donations on Twitch is to use PayPal. Streamers can ask viewers to send them money directly by using the email address associated with their own PayPal account. An easier option, though, is to simply set up a link which streamlines the entire process for the viewer due to its clean design and easy-to-understand interface. Here are some effective ways to use a address for receiving donations on Twitch.

  • Verbally mention your full address during a stream.
  • Post your link within your channel's chat. Not only will this get your viewers' attention but it will be a lot more effective due to the link being clickable from within the chat.
  • Add a donation section to your Twitch Channel page by going to your channel, clicking on the Edit Panels switch, then clicking on the giant + symbol, and then filling in the Panel Title and Description fields. Add your link to the description along with a brief message to your viewers explaining why you think they should donate.

Bitcoin & Other Cryptocurrencies

The use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum to send and receive funds online continues to increase year over year due to their speed, security, and lower transaction fees. Receiving a payment into your cryptocurrency wallet is as simple as sharing your wallet's address with another user. Here's how to make this work with Twitch.

  1. Open up your chosen cryptocurrency's wallet app. Bitpay is a popular wallet app for new users.

  2. Click on the Receive button or link. All wallets will have this option regardless of currency or app maker.

  3. You will see a single line of seemingly random numbers and letters. This is your wallet's address. Tap the address to copy it to your device's clipboard.

  4. Create a donation section on your Twitch profile as described above in the PayPal section on this page.

  5. Paste your wallet address into the Description field making sure to mention what cryptocurrency the wallet address is for. Users will be unable to send Ethereum to a Litecoin wallet or Bitcoin to an Ethereum wallet so it's incredibly important to label the address correctly.

    While in the Receive section of your wallet app, take a screenshot of the QR code. This code is the QR version of your wallet address and can be scanned by others to send you money. You can add the saved image of your QR code to your Twitch profile's donation section or even add it as a media element to your Twitch layout in OBS Studio (as you would a webcam window or other image) so your viewers can scan it with their mobile phones while watching your stream. Don't forget to mention which currency the QR code wallet address is for.

  6. You should now be able to receive bitcoin using Bitpay.

Twitch Donation Page Services

There are a variety of third-party services which Twitch streamers can connect to their account to activate additional features such as donations and alerts. Some of the more-popular services are Gaming For Good, StreamTip, Muxy, Stream Elements, and StreamLabs. All of these services create a unique donation page for your channel hosted on their own server which you can direct your viewers to to make a donation.

The following directions are for how to set up a donation page on StreamLabs, which has the most features and is the easiest to use for beginners. These steps are very similar for setting up a donation page on the other sites.

  1. From your StreamLabs Dashboard, click on Donation Settings.

  2. Click on the PayPal icon to connect your PayPal account to StreamLabs. This is needed so that donations can be sent directly to your PayPal account from the donation page. You can also add other payment options on this page such as Unitpay, Skrill, and credit cards but PayPal should be the primary method you activate due to how widely used it is among Twitch viewers.

  3. From the Donations Settings page, click on the Settings tab and select your currency as well as your minimum and maximum donation limits. Setting the minimum donation to five dollars is a good idea as this will discourage users from spamming your account with small donations.

  4. Click on the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page.

  5. The Settings page will display your donation page website address. It should look something like Copy this address and add it to your donation section on your Twitch Channel page.

Should You Accept Donations on Twitch?

Accepting donations or tips on Twitch is very common practice and isn't frowned upon by either streamers or viewers. Donations are one of the few ways smaller channels can earn revenue. However, once a streamer gains more followers and becomes a Twitch Affiliate or Partner, it's important to invest some time into learning about Twitch subscriptions. Subscriptions on Twitch have proven to be a way to earn a significantly higher volume of money than one-off donations and also have the potential to increase over time.

Are Twitch Donations Taxable?

Yes. Despite being referred to as donations, tips, or gifts by streamers, money made by streaming on Twitch is considered to be a valid source of income and should be claimed when completing a tax return.

How to Prevent Donation Chargebacks

While using PayPal can be a very convenient and trustworthy method of accepting donations, it does have one major flaw that is occasionally exploited by scammers; chargebacks. A chargeback is essentially when someone who has paid for something online via PayPal files a complaint with the company claiming that they never received the purchased goods or services. When this happens, PayPal more often than not completely refunds the buyer leaving the seller without their product and no money to show for it.

Unfortunately for streamers, there are a growing number of reports of scammers and internet trolls donating large amounts of money to Twitch channels only to have it all chargedback a couple of months later. There really is no way to 100% protect yourself from this sort of scam with PayPal which is why many experienced streamers prefer to focus on bits (which are protected by Amazon Payments) and cryptocurrency donations (which can't be cancelled or chargedback).

How to Encourage Your Twitch Viewers to Donate

Most viewers on Twitch are more than happy to support their favorite streamer but they won't think to donate if they don't know that it's an option in the first place. Here are five simple ways to remind your audience to donate without coming across as too pushy or spammy.

  • Thank your donors verbally during a stream. This not only reminds all of your viewers that donating is an option but rewards those who already have with their three seconds of fame.
  • Add a Recent Donor widget that displays the names of the last few donors to your onscreen Twitch layout. This can be set up by using the StreamLabs service and the OBS Studio program. Note that this won't be an option if you stream directly from your video game console.
  • Create a list of donors on your Twitch profile page. This could get unwieldy for larger channels but for streamers with a smaller audience, this can be a great way to thank those who have donated and encourage those that haven't yet to give it a go. Some streamers also choose to create a list for their top five donors which can really make viewers competitive.
  • Create a goal. Viewers are more likely to donate if they know what their money is going towards. Services like StreamLabs can create a free progress bar which can be added to a stream layout in OBS Studio. This visualization updates in real-time as more people donate and can be a great motivator for an audience to work towards a goal. Donation goals can also be mentioned verbally and within a Twitch profile description.
  • Use custom alerts. One of the best ways to reward viewers for donating is by customizing your alerts. Alerts are visual and audio cues that trigger during a livestream when a viewer follows, subscribes, donates, or tips with bits. If you've seen a stream when a message saying something like, "Thanks for following!!" appears onscreen, you've already seen an alert in action. Alerts can be customized in StreamLabs with any animated gif and sound file. Usually the more entertaining the combination is, the more likely it will be to encourage viewers to donate again to see the alert.