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NerdWallet has an excellent piece on costs to charities of various donation options. There is a complex tangle of fees charged to charities, with eyebrow-raising cuts taken by some crowd-sourcing intermediaries. Capital One, though widely dismissed by the hoity toity premium travel miles and points set, has a great program called No Hassle Giving, which transfers 100% of donations made on the site with Capital One cards to recipient charities.
Partnering with Network for Good for donation processing and drawing from GuideStar’s database of IRS registered charitable organizations, the site is a breeze to use. Registration is fast (separate from Capital One account management), the charitable organization search tool is well-oiled, and single or recurring donations can be set up ($10-$25,000). For donations to multiple organizations it is faster than going to separate websites, and easier at tax time as receipts are also centrally managed. Those who need the tote bag or CD should go to the charity directly, but The Rapid Traveler always declines those baubles so donations are fully put to work.
The Rapid Traveler made a half dozen donations just before Christmas. It was a convenient pleasure to take care of them in about ten minutes, knowing that the charities will get the full take, and a nice bonus to still earn the 2% reward on his Venture card. He will treat those like re-invested dividends and apply them to his next round of donations.
Capital One takes a lot of heat for reasons The Rapid Traveler has never fully understood. He has generally found their customers service to be comparable to competitors, they charge no foreign transaction fees on their cards, even cards with no annual fee, and they were one of the first to launch online travel notification, which many card issuers still do not have. No Hassle Giving is wonderful, especially compared to the lame options from competitors (see again the NerdWallet article).
Still time to donate for 2011!