Inside SQLSaturday – PayPal


This year PASS changed the way money is handled for a SQLSaturday. In the past, they had a PayPal account and all the money was collected there. You would then request disbursement from them, with a limit of like 3 or something and 30 days after the event they’d allow you to pull out any remaining amount. Now, you must provide your own PayPal Account. But what does that mean to you? These details are things that happened to me and may not be a concern for you, if you’ve mastered PayPal.

Verify your account
This was a newly-created PayPal account and we were unaware that you must verify your account. If this step isn’t completed, 30 days after receiving payment, PayPal will refund payments. This was only about 5 lunch registration fees. We received emails from a few attendees saying they had paid and were now refunded, what did they do? A quick call to PayPal resolved the issue; account was verified and they returned the refunded fess (note the attendees were not charged again).

Every single payment that is received I got an email for. EVERY ONE, all THREE HUNDRED LUNCH FEES! Also after 21 days, you get additional emails letting you know that you have funds available. This is a lot of email and you might want to get a rule set up early.

21 & 30 Days
Everything seems to have a magic number at PayPal. If you don’t verify your account, 30 days after receiving a payment, money is returned. Money isn’t available to you for 21 days after it is received. <-That one is really important.

A “regular” account has terrible reporting available but upgrading to a business account provides nicer and faster reports (more on this later).

Matching payments
Another interesting thing is that it is somewhat difficult to match a PayPal payment with an attendee. Attendees may register using their work email address and pay with their personal. Should you need to find them you’ll have to use the Payment URL found in the Unpaid Lunch Fee report to tie back to PayPal (Example of what you find in the Payment URL …&invoice=46585976-A45F-4C92-9D16-BDD884A1F7F3&…). This was needed when PayPal issued refunds to those 5 people because they didn’t use the same email addresses as stated above.

Sponsor Invoices are created but we don’t see an invoice number. The invoice is in PayPal and sometimes the payment doesn’t come from the company but the person making the payment. For example, national companies have regional sales representatives: Company ABC is sponsoring but sales guy Gus Salesdude is paying. The payment comes in under Gus Salesdude and it’s now difficult to match things up. This won’t matter if you are not running this through a company. Kerry is the bean counter in this house (shh! don’t tell him I went to college for Accounting) and he is very diligent in matching things up.

PayPal and SQLSaturday site hiccups. We had several attendees arrive with an email showing they had paid for lunch but the registration did not show as PAID and the lunch ticket was not generated. We were able to handle this onsite by giving them preprinted lunch tickets. The admin site now show one dollar amount available from lunch fees and PayPal has a different total. This might not matter too much but it will throw off any reporting unless I manually look at the payments received and the folks on the unpaid lunch report.

Paying Yourself
When I went to move money out of PayPal to my account, I discovered that without adding a SSN/EIN or credit card, I would only be able to move $500 at a time per month.

Tax Liability
I am not a tax accountant, I am not certified in anything so this is just a warning of something you need to consider. My SQLSat is in January. For 2014 I had till 12/31/2014 to spend all the funds from SQLSaturday or we were liable for taxes on the money. Great. Non-issue, though; the 2015 SQLSat launches in the fall, I can pay some of the expense up front with this money. UHHH…. Money started rolling in before the end of 2014 for the 2015 and we were told that if we didn’t spend that by the end of the year we’d pay taxes on that. (This doesn’t matter if you’ve set up an not-for-profit or a standard (C) corporation, but we are a S-Corp.) Just something to keep in mind; this wasn’t an issue the year before because all the money was held in the PASS account and not mine.

Pending Payments
After a quick phone call to PayPal today–thanks ALVIN you’re the best–I learned that personal accounts are designed to be purchaser accounts. This means they expect you to buy things not sell them. This explains the lack of reporting and features for the receiving money side. Business accounts are designed to be sellers, accepting payments. Why this matters?

  1. Reporting
  2. Money payments are held for up to 21 days in a pending state on a non-business account. This allows for disputes and to ensure the purchaser has received their goods.
    1. You receive an email for every single payment that moves from pending to available.
    2. Upgrading to a business account automatically released my pending payments.

Changing Things
I made a few mistakes.

  • I set my name up as follows  First Name: Tamera Clark Last Name: Nashville user group
  • I didn’t apply my EIN (my company tax number) until 2/1 and that now makes this a business account
  • I used the user group email address

Why are these mistakes?

  • I can’t change the name on the account online. After calling support I was told I needed to fax them documents to get this updated. After complaining she verified with a supervisor that I could email the documents in.
    • Documents required to show them my name is not Tamera Clark Nashville User Group (I did ask, “doesn’t it seem obvious that isn’t a name?”) a government issued photo id or a billing statement with just my name on it.
  • I can’t change the email to my personal email because I personally have a PayPal account. (Don’t get me started on the failed database design here.) My choices are to close my personal account or create a new email address just to use on the biz account.
  • Adding my EIN changed this account to a business one, I have yet to fully understand what that will mean.

Here is my advice or what I think you should take away from this.

  1. Set up your PayPal account entirely before you go live with your SQLSaturday. You are required to supply this info to PASS when you are finalizing to go live.
    1. Follow all the steps to get the account verified!
    2. Make sure your bank info is set up for payments.
    3. Make sure you have it configured to move money to yourself.
    4. If you are setting up as a BIZ do so from the beginning.
  2. Use an email address that makes sense. If this account is set up as the UG and you plan on handing it over to someone else if you leave, use that email. If this is “for” the UG but you are personally running it through your company, treat it as such.
  3. Set up email rules to move all the email notices PayPal will send you. I could not find a setting to change.


If you discover anything you feel should be added to my list please let me know; I would be more than happy to append it. Likewise if you find a fix to any issues I encountered please let me know, I could use all the help I can get.

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