Donate Button with Paypal Integration

A Donate button with Paypal integration through a NodeJS/Express server

Made with: Node and Express

Source Files | Live Demo

I got the inspiration for this project from this post in Willem Middelkoop’s blog. While Willem’s post went through the basic process, it didn’t provide detaied instructions on how to make this work on an actual server, or how to interact with the payment platform’s API. That’s when I went online and searched for tutorials and videos that might help me.

Fortunately, I run across this video by Brad Traversy that does a wonderful job of explaining how to tie a basic Node/Express server with Paypal. However, I wanted to go a step further and not only get the application to work in my own computer but on a Virtual Private Server accessible from the Internet. It just happens that Brad had already created this other video that teaches you how to deploy a basic Node/Express app in a VPS, together with domain name mapping and HTTPS certification. The video comes with detailed written instructions.

Rather than explain every single detail, which Brad can do better than me, I’m going to lay out the basic steps I took:

1) Build a basic Node/Express app:

const express = require('express')
const app = express()
const port = 3000
// Set our template engine of choice
app.set("view engine", "ejs");
app.get('/', (req, res) => res.send('index'))
app.listen(port, () => console.log(`Example app listening at http://localhost:${port}`))

'index' is a the page where our donation form is located.

Note: if you’re not familiar with how Express works, you may want to familiarize yourself with that first.

2) Get a virtual private server at Digital Ocean: That’s where you will deploy your application. This process involves:

  • Sign up
  • Create a Droplet (Digital Ocean’s name for their virtual private servers)
  • Make a note of your assigned I.P. address (you will need it later)

It may be useful at this point to learn how log into your droplet via SSH (so you don’t need to use a password), and to how create a new user with sudo privileges so that you don’t have to log in as root. Follow this tutorial.

3) Get a domain name and point it to your Digital Ocean virtual private server. Follow these instructions.

4) Deploy your basic Express app in your virtual private server: You can either copy the files one by one, or push your app to a Github repository and then clone it in your VPS. You may want to install a process manager like PM2 so that your application runs all the time, even when you log out of your server.

5) Create a NGINX web server and configure it so that your Express app is not just visible through a port (e.g. but through your plain domain: This process is known as setting up the NGINX server as a reverse proxy.

6) Create a Paypal dummy business account and a personal account: You need to sign up at

7) Add routes and functionality to your Express app so that the Donate button becomes fully functional.

Steps 1 to 5 are covered in this video and its companion notes.

Steps 6 and 7 are covered in this video.

My demo is now finished and fully functional.

If you want to try it out, click on the Donate button below and use these dummy credentials so you can go through the motions in Paypal’s sandbox environment:


Password: BmWWp#S4

DON'T WORRY: You won't get charged. This is a dummy environment!

Last updated: May 30, 2020

© 2024 Mario Sanchez Carrion