Nov 29, 2010

Just 51 Bucks Challenge to Raise Funds for Ailing Charities

Americans asked to invest $51 of holiday gift money in Charity Gift Cards. And then challenge their friends to do the same.

SEATTLE, Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The top four Charity Gift Card providers,,, and today issued the Just 51 Bucks Challenge, asking Americans to give a gift of charity instead of "stuff" this holiday season.  By investing $51 – which is 10 percent of what the average U.S. consumer will spend this year(1) - in Charity Gift Cards rather than conventional holiday gifts of stuff, Americans can close the charity budget gap.

The Just 51 Bucks Challenge is in response to a cry for help from the charity community.  The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports a shocking 11 percent drop in donations to the nation's 400 biggest charities - the worst decline in 20 years. And USA Today reports concern that federal income tax changes will further erode charitable contributions during the critical end of year giving season(2).

"If one in a thousand American holiday shoppers redirect $51 of their holiday gift purchases to buying a Charity Gift Card for friends, family, clients, siblings or children, new charitable giving will top $10 million this year," says Jon Siegel, Executive Director for  "Together the Charity Gift Card sector urges shoppers to make a difference by giving a meaningful gift that promises money for a charity that needs it."

"A donation of $51 can go a long way," Jon Siegel says.  "It can provide a year's worth of meals for two impoverished students, protect three acres of forest, deliver 25 books into the hands of children, and provide a home for two animals otherwise scheduled for euthanasia."  "Or it can buy a new tie for someone who already has a closet full of ties," adds Jon glumly.  

Charity Gift Cards make charitable giving fun and interactive.  With a Charity Gift Card, the gift giver makes a charitable donation and the gift recipient chooses the charity that will receive the donation.  By issuing the Just 51 Bucks Challenge, Charity Gift Card providers hope to help ailing charities in two ways: first by re-allocating gift dollars normally spent on stuff to charitable organizations, and second by growing the pool of Americans that participate in charitable giving.

The Just 51 Bucks Challenge will use Facebook to increase reach through social media.  Once a shopper purchases at least $51 in Charity Gift Cards, they will be invited to post a message to their Facebook wall that says,  "I took the Just 51 Bucks Challenge, will you?" and challenges friends to find $51 in their own holiday gift budget to invest in Charity Gift Cards rather than conventional gifts of stuff.

Heather Bohannon, Director of Corporate Relations and National Events, Autism Society of America, says, "Charity Gift Cards offer a new opportunity for our Autism Society of America to broaden its reach. The cards provide us with an additional source of financial support that we could not otherwise reach. And of equal importance, the Charity Gift Cards are starting conversations about philanthropy between parents and their children, among friends and family—and increasing awareness about our organization and our work."

Since its inception three years ago, the Charity Gift Card category has grown steadily on the praises of its customers and card recipients as well as economists and media. Branded cards are now used by convention planners as gifts in place of pens and mugs, companies give Charity Gift Cards to customers and employees as a component of their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.  Marrying couples give Charity Gift Cards as wedding favors to demonstrate their commitment to giving.  Parents and grandparents give Charity Gift Cards to children to share with children the joy and satisfaction of sharing with others who are less fortunate.  

"Charity gift cards are a meaningful, worthwhile and fiscally responsible innovation in charitable giving," said Paul Shoemaker, founder of Social Venture Partners in Seattle and an expert on charitable giving. "In our experience, Charity Gift Cards introduce many potential donors to charitable organizations that they otherwise would not connect with. That is a good thing at a time when so many non-profit organizations are struggling to survive.", (CharityChoice), and all offer Charity Gift Cards online in varying amounts from $5 to $5,000. Each gift card recipient spends the gift card by donating the card value to a charity (or charities) of the recipient's choosing.

For more information on Charity Gift Cards, visit,,, and

1 According to NRF's 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $518.08 on holiday gift shopping.

2 "Tax Uncertainty Could Hurt Charitable Giving", USA Today, November 12, 2010

SOURCE TisBest Philanthropy