Charity Gift Cards: Making Your Gift Count

Updated May 6, 2021
Charity Gift Card

Charity gift cards are a great way to pay it forward to both a loved one and a worthy cause. Learn about the different types of gift cards for charity, pros and cons, charities available, and costs.

What Are Charity Gift Cards?

When it comes to giving a gift for the person that has everything, consider giving them a charity gift card. Charity gift cards can get kind of confusing. They allow you to make a charitable donation in some way. However, there are different types of charity gift card donations available.

Types of Charity Gift Card Donations Available

When you start researching charity gift card donations, you'll notice you can make a donation when buying a gift card or buy a gift card specifically for funds to be donated to a charity. To find out which one you want, view the difference between the two.

  • Gift card purchase donation allows the recipient to purchase whatever she wants, and a portion of the sale goes to a charity. For example, you buy a gift card at Nike, they donate 1% of the purchase to a charity. Your money only goes to one specific area and you don't get to choose where it goes.
  • Gift card for charity allows the recipient to donate the amount of the card to the charity of his choice. For example, Charity Choice allows the recipient of the card to donate the funds on the card to Habitat for Humanity.

Where to Find a Charity Donation Gift Card

Most people looking to purchase a charity gift card are looking for gift cards they can purchase for a specific charity. There are a lot of different ones out there. Check out a few different ones.

Fees Options
Charity Choice

5% administrative fee

3% credit card transaction fee

$0.50 per card from card balance

Physical Gift Cards (minimum purchase amount: $5 )

Gift eCards (minimum purchase amount: $2)

Honor Cards (minimum purchase amount: $2)

Custom Physical Gift Cards (100 cards or minimum order of $1,500)

Printable Gift Card

*Cards never expire

GlobalGiving 15% administrative fee Physical Gift Cards (minimum purchase amount: $10) that expire one year from the date of purchase
TisBest Philanthropy

$1.49 processing fee for Plastic Gift Cards

no fees for email and printable gift cards

Plastic Gift Cards (minimum purchase amount: $10)

Email and Printable Gift Cards(minimum purchase amount: $10)

Types of Charities Supported

When purchasing a gift card for charities, you aren't limited to the types of areas you can support. For example, many allow you to support worldwide and local charities. For example, Charity Choice allows you to choose from over 1,000 registered charities. Just a few include St. Jude, the American Cancer Society, and Habitat for Humanity International. Other areas people might choose to donate to include:

  • Animals
  • Children
  • Cultural & education
  • Disabilities
  • Disaster relief
  • Elderly
  • Environment
  • Health & disease
  • Homeless
  • Hunger
  • Poverty
  • International
  • Military
  • Women's Issue
man giving gift card to girlfriend

Pros of Charity Gift Cards

Gift cards are an easy way to support your favorite charity. Plus, they have a lot of different pros.

Benefit Charities

It's hard to overlook the obvious benefit that charity gift cards support charities. What's more, they support charities in a way that requires nothing of the charity in question. Whereas most fundraising efforts are driven directly by the charities themselves, a gift card is organized by a third party and the charity simply gets the check.

Reduce Consumerism

What do you get for the person who has everything? Getting that person more stuff doesn't make sense. However, getting him a meaningful gift that allows him to donate to a charity has the appeal of not adding to material possessions.

Tax Deduction

When you purchase a charity gift card that can only be redeemed for a donation to a nonprofit, you can claim the deduction for the value of the card on your tax return as a charitable donation. Just be sure to keep the receipt so you can use it for proof of purchase at tax time.

Cons of Charity Gift Cards

While charity gift cards seem like they wouldn't have any cons, they do have a couple that you need to keep in mind.


Most charity gift cards are accompanied by an activation and processing fee. Most card providers charge a flat fee as well as a processing fee. The flat fee can range from 50 cents to $5, while the processing fee can range from three to eight percent. So, if you purchased a charity gift card valued at $100 that was accompanied by a $3 activation fee and six percent processing fee, you'd spend a total of $109. Also, keep in mind some charity gift cards will deduct these fees from the total value of the gift card, decreasing the amount of your donation.

Expiration Dates

Unlike standard gift cards, these products typically come with an expiration date. If the card is not used in a timely manner, the funds will be forfeited.

Limited Flexibility

If you purchase a gift card that cannot be redeemed by the recipient for a gift, you are in essence forcing them to donate to a specified list of charities. Unfortunately, their preferred charity may not be on the list. Not all charities will be included on the roster, especially the smaller ones. To avoid this issue, only purchase charity gift cards from a reputable provider that has a wide variety of organizations to choose from.

Shipping Costs

You probably won't be able to walk into the nearest big-box retailer or drug store and purchase a charity gift card. Instead, you'll need to do so online from a reputable seller, so that means you may have to pay a fee to have the card shipped to the intended recipient.

Gift Cards for Charity

The next time you're in the mood for gift-giving or a special occasion rolls around, a charity gift card may be a viable option. They're a great way to put a smile on the recipient's face while supporting a good cause. However, before you make a purchase, be sure to read the fine print from the provider to ensure the terms and conditions best suit your needs.

Charity Gift Cards: Making Your Gift Count