Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What to Do With All Those Unused Gift Cards - How to Donate These Unwanted Holiday Gifts to Charity


Who didn't give and/or receive at least one gift card this holiday season in this day  and age where giftcards have never been more popular, politically correct and widely used? Whether via the  internet with online codes as well as those physical pieces of plastic that work like debit cards when you take them to a traditional store -- chances are that you are a member of that card-carrying club. And you are not alone because the National Federation of Retailers estimates that 8 in 10 consumers bought at least one gift card in 2011. 
'C' stands for Consumer Cards to Charity
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch 's wisdom is no stranger to this blog. She points out the season of giving isn't over yet, especially here in the U.S. where Americans are still looking to make tax deductible contributions to legitimate non-profits before the federal fiscal year officially ends just before midnight on January 1, 2012. With unwanted gift cards being so prevalent right now and people still in generous frame of mind, it makes sense to introduce a concept many consumers may have not considered before. That is, the possibility of contributing those cards to a worthy charity rather than allowing them to waste away in a drawer for years.

Woroch suggests some questions to ask prior to donating gift cards 

How Much Are You Actually Donating? 
What percentage of the card will be directed towards the charity's mission and how much towards administrative and overhead? Carefully research the non-profit you are thinking of giving to and feel free to contact them directly if you have questions. 

What is the Minimum Balance You Can Donate? 
Some charities are grateful to accept any balance, while others won't accept a card that's worth less than $10 or $20 because of handling of the gift outweighs its benefits. 

How Will the Charity Use Your Donation? 
Gift cards sometimes end up being given directly to the charities clientele, while other non-profits resell the card for a percentage of the face value so they can take advantage of the cash. 

Should You Simply Resell the Card Yourself? 
Remember donating gift cards for charity is still relatively new, so there are still many non-profits that don't accept gift card contributions for a variety of reasons. If the group you want to give your gift card to doesn't take that type of contribution, you can always convert your gift card into cash yourself on websites like GiftCardGranny and then donate all or part of the money received directly to the organization of your choice. 

Would the Charity Prefer You Donate Purchased Items? 
Another good idea is to check with the non-profit to see if they would rather you purchase groceries, clothing, etc. and donate these items, instead of the cards or cash. If your gift card comes from a merchant selling products the charity doesn't need,some stores will let you exchange these for another store. 

Can You Donate the Gift Card to a Silent Auction or Raffle?
One way to make sure cash goes directly to the intended non-profit is to contribute your card as a biddable item for a fundraising auction. 

Please leave a comment. Have you contributed a gift card to charity before? Why or why not. If yes, I should you'll share your particular experience as well as additional thoughts on this topic. 

Happy Holidays!

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