Visionaries

Charity Charge: Helping People Find New Ways to Donate

| Updated November 28, 2017

Charity Charge credit cards provide nonprofits with a recurring revenue stream

Charity Charge CEO and founder Stephen Garten talks about his motivation to provide nonprofits with a new recurring revenue source through a credit card rewards program that enables cardholders to automatically donate their cash back to charity. MissionBox co-founder and CEO Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk talks with Stephen about this new way for people to help their favorite nonprofit with every purchase.

How did you get the idea for directing credit card rewards to fund nonprofits?

When signing up for a credit card, you're promised a variety of points, miles, or other rewards that give some kind of benefit. It occurred to me that with all this value in so called points and rewards, instead of using the benefit for myself, I could donate to charity every time I used my card.

A recent study that came out from Bankrate states that 31 percent of all credit card holders in the US —over 60 million people — have never redeemed their credit card reward points. This equals nearly 16 billion dollars in expired or unused rewards each year. How many of those 60 million people are potential donors?

In what way is Charity Charge different from any other credit card?

Charity Charge is a credit card created in partnership with MasterCard that works just like any other credit card. Charity Charge takes the concept of points or rewards and with every purchase, the cardholder earns one percent cash back that is automatically donated to any nonprofit or charity of the cardholder's choice. The card has no annual fee and the cash back donations that cardholders earn are tax deductible.

How can a potential donor/cardholder sign up for Charity Charge?

The application for Charity Charge is on our site. Go to CharityCharge.com, enter your email, choose any nonprofit to support, and you will be taken to the bank's application. The entire process is initiated by you. Once a customer has signed up for a credit card and chosen a nonprofit, he/she is automatically and easily funding their favorite organization.

When a cardholder's credit card arrives in the mail, it's already set up to support the nonprofit organization the cardholder selected on our site.

How do nonprofits connect with Charity Charge?

Charity Charge partners with GuideStar and every single nonprofit in the U.S. is already listed in our system, including K-12 schools. We strive every day to generate more profits for nonprofits and cover 100 percent of the donation processing charges ensuring that 100 percent of cardholder donations reach the designated nonprofit.

Charity Charge is different than an affinity credit card that you might see tied to a large organization like a college. Banks are willing to partner with really large nonprofits or large college alumni associations to offer affinity cards, but smaller organizations like Hill Country Conservancy, or Austin Pets Alive for example, do not have affinity credit cards. There's not enough of a profit incentive for the bank. Charity Charge makes a great alternative to affinity cards.

We also provide all of the promotional tools that nonprofits need to share the Charity Charge card with their donors. We encourage anyone associated with a nonprofit to visit our site and click the tab called, “Work for a nonprofit?” This page has helpful materials that detail our partnership program as well as a short form that enables visitors to book a call with our Director of Partnerships.

We have connected with over 500 nonprofits who have shared our card with their donor-base and have in turn generated cardholders who now support their cause with cash back on everyday purchases.

We provide things like custom fundraising pages, custom videos, blog post features, and much more to simplify the donor engagement process for nonprofits so they can gain cardholders and recurring revenue without diverting any resources to our program.

Can any nonprofit have their credit card branded with their logo?

Yes, they can! Nonprofits generally have a group of loyal supporters who love the added perk of proudly displaying the logo of their favorite nonprofit on their credit card. Any organization that is interested in providing its donors with a branded card should complete the form on our nonprofit page and book a call to discuss the process with our team.

Know another visionary leader or organization working for social good? Let us know! Email editorial@missionbox.com.

After earning his economics degree at Washington University in St. Louis, Stephen visited Austin in 2009 and discovered that the city was a “personification of who he is and who he strives to be.” Several months after his visit, he returned to Austin for good and found a job with the Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin. Stephen launched Charity Charge in 2016.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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