I was looking at the marketing materials for a charity (which I'll call X) over the weekend, when I saw something odd at the bottom of their donation form:

Check here to increase your donation by 3% to defray the cost of credit card processing.

It's not news to me that credit card companies charge merchants a cut of every transaction.  But the ramifications of this for charitable contributions had never sunk in. I use my credit card for all of the purchases I can (I get pretty good cash-back rates). Automatically drafting from my checking account (like a check, only without the check) costs X nothing. So I've increased the effectiveness of my charitable contributions by a small (<3%) amount by performing what amounts to a paperwork tweak.

If you use a credit card for donations, please think about making this tweak as well!

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7 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:47 PM

It does depend on how much you're giving. Handling checks requires some overhead in terms of time for the recipient. For example, GiveWell suggests that people sending them less than $1,000 do so via credit card and above that via check.

Ow, good point. Thanks for the GiveWell Link.

Other options of comparable effectiveness:

In general I wonder whether we should have a Financial Effectiveness Repository.

An option that's 10 times better than the Amazon Smile service in that link is to do all your Amazon shopping via the EA Shop for Charity portal, which earns a 5% commission on all your spending (at no cost for you) for the effective altruist foundation Charity Science, which automatically regrants all this money to GiveWell-recommended charities (currently deworming ones).

Tell All Your Friends!

Also, a Financial Effectiveness Repository is a great idea. Do you want to create that?

I think that's a great idea! I would have loved to have something like a sequence starting at the fundamentals of Effective Altruism and boiling down to specifics like this.