Here’s a problem. You’d like to donate some cash to a charity but you’re concerned that the charity will put you on their mailing list and keep asking for more donations. Worse yet, because some charities share their mailing list with other charities, donating to one charity may get you on the mailing list of multiple charities. Your dislike for getting marketing mail may hold you back from making that donation in the first place.
People who have a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) solve that problem by donating to their Donor-Advised Fund and requesting a grant to the charity from their Donor-Advised Fund. But you need a minimum to open a Donor-Advised Fund account ($5,000 at Fidelity; $25,000 at Vanguard). You also have to pay an administrative fee every year. It’s an overkill if you only want to donate some cash to a charity.
I found a life hack to donate money to charities without worries about getting junk mail. It’s simple and free.
Charity Gift Card
TisBest Philanthropy in Seattle runs a charity gift card program. TisBest itself is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage people to give gifts of charity, as opposed to gifts of stuff. Other than having used TisBest once as a user, I have no financial relationship with TisBest. This is not a sponsored post.
A gift giver buys a TisBest Charity Gift Card and sends it to the gift recipient, for birthdays, holidays, graduation, wedding, and what not. Instead of using the gift card to buy something, the gift recipient picks a charity and designates the gift to that charity.
100% of the gift card value goes to the charity picked by the gift recipient. The gift giver still gets the full tax deduction. TisBest covers the administration costs with money from its own donors. There is no purchase fee if you get the gift card code by email or print a paper gift card on your own printer. If you want a plastic card, it’s only $1.95 extra to have it mailed either to the purchaser or to the recipient.
Someone sent me a TisBest Charity Gift Card recently. I went to TisBest’s website and picked a charity for the money. It was a simple process.
While the TisBest Charity Gift Card works great for its intended purpose, I think it also works well for donating money to a charity yourself while protecting your privacy. You buy a TisBest Charity Gift Card and have the gift card code emailed to yourself. Then you “spend” the gift card on a charity of your choice. TisBest will pool all donations to that charity from all its users and send a lump sum to the charity each quarter. TisBest won’t share your information with the charity. Other than a time delay, the charity you choose still receives 100% of your donation. From TisBest’s FAQs:
Do you give names and contact information to the charities? Whose name is the donation made in?
We understand the problem with unwanted phone and mail solicitations, so we do not share any customer names or contact information with charities unless you ask us to. Donations are made from TisBest Philanthropy. If you want to register with a charity to receive their mailings, we will offer you that opportunity after you have spent your gift card.
TisBest has a directory of featured charities. The list covers major charities in many different causes. If the one you’d like to support isn’t in the featured list, TisBest also uses a database of all U.S. charities. You can use the search feature to find it.
If you’d like to donate money to more charities but you hesitated because you hate junk mail, now you can use TisBest as a “poor person’s Donor-Advised Fund.” Donate to your heart’s desire with no worries about junk mail. Several other organizations also run similar charity gift card programs. TisBest is the only one I saw that forwards 100% of your donations to the designated charities.
Reference: TisBest FAQs