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Everybody loves gift cards – and they make a perfect gift for special occasions, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and much more! But gift cards can be used as much more than just presents – they can be used to give back to your community, and fundraise for a worthy cause!

In fact, this is one of the growing reasons that many small businesses are implementing gift card programs – beyond the fact that gift cards are good for business. Gift cards can allow local businesses to provide nonprofits with simple, flexible gifts that can be used for fundraising efforts.

Small business gift cards are good for business, too. When gift cards are sold or given away at special charitable events, it provides small business owners with an opportunity to connect with their community – and potentially convert more paying customers. That means that small businesses can donate gift cards – and increase profits – at the same time! And that’s a win-win.

The person who received the gift card also benefits – because gift cards are flexible, they can choose the products or services they want, allowing them to have more control over their experience, and making gift cards more appealing for fundraising.

There are many ways that gift cards can be used in fundraising efforts – from raffles, to auctions, to contests and competitions, and much more. Nowadays, just about every fundraiser contains some kind of gift card, due to their popularity.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 simple ways that gift cards can be used in fundraising efforts. Whether you’re raising money for a charitable organization, a local youth association, a sports team, or any other cause, this article is sure to help you understand the benefits of using gift cards in fundraising efforts.

1. Auction Gift Cards To Raise Funds At Gala Events

Gala events are extremely commonplace in the fundraising world. The idea of the gala is simple – each person makes a charitable contribution for the opportunity to come to the event, eat dinner, meet and greet with other people, and dance the night away. These events allow people to donate to a charity while still having a good time, making them a very popular method of fundraising.

During the dinner, further donations will often be solicited, allowing charities to obtain more high-value donations from their donors. While this can be effective, it sometimes is a little bit off-putting to donors – they already paid, right? Why should they pay again?

Of course, not everyone reacts that way, but that’s one of the reasons that events like silent auctions are becoming very popular at fundraising events. Silent auctions are a great way to get guests to donate more money – but they also receive something in return, making it less off-putting for those who are less amenable to further donation.

Donated gift cards are hot items at silent auctions. Often, part of the silent auction takes place online, before the actual event. During this time, lower-value gift cards like $25 McDonald’s gift cards, iTunes gift cards or Starbucks gift cards are auctioned off. During the event, attention is usually focused on higher-value gift cards donated by local businesses – such as a $150 gift card to a local steakhouse – or very large gift cards in excess of $500.\

itunes gift cards

People love bidding on gift cards at silent auctions because they can donate to charity – while still getting a clear amount of value. For example, you may have a donor who wouldn’t be willing to donate $150 via check, but would gladly pay $150 for a $125 gift card to Amazon.com. This is because he’s willing to donate a little bit extra and give back to the community –  but still get something in return.

In fact, it’s very common for most gift cards to get sold at a higher-than-face-value price, because people are willing to spend a little bit extra, knowing that their money goes to a good cause. Essentially, this means that charitable organizations profit twice – once when the gift card is donated, and again when it’s sold.

2. Arrange Gift Cards Into Theme Baskets To Sell At Fundraisers, Or Auction Off

Gift cards are great – but a gift card alone may not be enough to get someone to donate to your organization. Because of this, it’s a great idea to combine gift cards with other items, in order to increase the attractiveness of the entire package.

Themed gift baskets are an incredible way to do this – they look awesome on the donation table, and they can be put together quite cost-effectively by shopping at low-cost stores like Dollar stores, or buying used materials from thrift stores.

By using a fun theme, a smart design, and a great selection of items, you can massively boost a gift card’s appeal. Here are a couple examples of what we’re talking about.

  • Italian Gift Basket – Grab a wicker basket, cover it with a checkerboard-print tablecloth, and fill it up with all kinds of specialty Italian foods! Dried meats like Salami, specialty cheeses, hard-to-find pasta, exquisite olive oil, biscotti, and a gift card to a local Italian eatery will make this basket irresistible to any Italian-lover at your fundraiser.
  • Pet Gift Basket – Who doesn’t love pampering their pets? Versions of this could be done for both dogs and cats. A dog gift basket may be built around a new doggy bed, piled high with treats, chewable bones, pet toys, and perhaps a gift card to a local dog groomer.A cat gift basket could be built around a litterbox (if you’re feeling fun!), and include catnip, scratching posts, brushes, and a gift card to a veterinarian, or a local pet goods store.
  • Dinner And A Movie Gift Basket – Grab a gift card to a local restaurant, throw in another to your local Cineplex, and toss them into a popcorn bucket alongside some classic theater treats like Junior Mints, Raisinets, and a list of movie showtimes in your area!
  • The Ultimate Tailgate Gift Basket – Sports fans will love this one. Pick up an inexpensive cooler and fill it up with baseball memorabilia from the local sports team, and a gift card or tickets to the local ballpark. You can also include snacks, beers (if your patrons are over 21), and everything else that a sports fan might need to have an awesome night at the ballpark.
  • Cooking Class Gift Basket – People love getting things – but more than that, they love doing things. A gift basket built around cooking classes is a great way to appeal to people who love experiencing new things. Grab a nice basket (or a colander, if you’re feeling fun) throw in some clean new dishtowels, measuring cups, stirring spoons, or other kitchen utensils, and a gift card to a local establishment offering cooking classes – or a specialty grocery store, if there are no cooking classes on offer nearby.This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve got a gift card, you can build a themed basket around it. Gift card to the local movie rental store? Pack it up with some candy and blankets – it’s home movie night! Got one for a sporting goods store? Stick it in a helmet with some Gatorade, a new football, and a couple sweat towels – the opportunities are totally endless!

3. Raffle Off Your Gift Cards!

Raffles are a fantastic way to raise money for your organization. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to spend a few bucks on raffle tickets – especially if the prizes are great. Even if a person who bought tickets doesn’t win the raffle, they’ll know that their money is going to a good cause, and it’s fun to have the chance to win something great from a raffle!

But a great raffle requires a great prize – people probably aren’t going to line up around the block for a raffle that features a boring or useless prize. That’s why gift cards are such a great prize for a raffle – their inherent flexibility allows raffle winners to choose what they spend them on, increasing the likelihood that you’ll sell more tickets and raise more money.

4. Sell Gift Cards To Raise Funds (If You’re A Small Business)

Many local businesses partner with schools, local charities, and other organizations to share profits – and this is a fantastic way to raise money for a great cause without just giving away your services for free. Usually, this takes the form of a special “event night”, where 10% of sales go towards benefiting a particular organization. While this can be a good way to raise money, it’s often difficult to find a night that works well for everyone.

So, if you’re willing, your small business can take a different path – and use gift cards to raise funds for charities. This allows you to give back to your community in a more long-lasting way. You could donate 10% of all gift cards purchased to an organization for a month or more, allowing you to provide a charity with funding and deepen your connection with your community – without simply giving away your products and services.

If you don’t want to invest in a new gift card system, that’s totally fine! Just keep track of your gift card sales – and donate a set percentage of the proceeds when the promotion is over! It’s just that easy – and you’ll be surprised at how the community engages with your business when you’re giving back.

5. Buy And Resell Gift Cards In Bulk

If you’re looking for a more large-scale way to raise money for an organization, many retailers offer discounted gift cards to charities that can be resold for full face-value, providing a fantastic way for nonprofits to organize fundraising efforts. An example of this would be Kohl’s Cares – eligible schools, nonprofits, and charities can purchase these cards and resell them, and all of the profits go directly to the organization.

Local businesses can also mimic this approach. Instead of donating a set percentage of profits during a set time period – as mentioned in method #4 – you can simply sell a bulk package of gift cards to a nonprofit for, say, 90% of face value. They can then resell these cards at 100% value, and keep the profits for their cause.

This allows businesses to profit from increased traffic and sales, and charitable organizations to profit by reselling gift cards at a higher margin, and using the profits to fund their own programs.

It’s usually a good idea to make this kind of program known well in advance – at a PTA meeting or other fundraising event, and take “pre-orders” for gift cards from interested individuals. If you’re a businessperson selling gift cards at a discounted rate, this will ensure that you don’t overcommit to selling gift cards – and if you’re raising funds, getting pre-orders is a way to make sure that you don’t have a bunch of discount gift cards sitting around and collecting dust.

Follow These Fundraising Methods – And Use The Power Of Gift Cards For Good!

Gift cards are awesome – and these 5 fundraising methods are a great way for you to harness the desirability of gift cards for a good cause. So whether you’re a small nonprofit, a local business owner, or just interested in how gift cards can be used charitably, it’s a great idea to learn about the ways gift cards can be used for good! Next time you’re involved in a fundraiser, suggest one of these ideas – you’re sure to get a great reaction!

And if you have gift cards you don’t need (or your organization bought too many for a fundraiser), don’t worry! You can always sell them on a website like EJ Gift Cards. We offer great rates for hundreds of different gift cards, and we can help you turn your extra gift cards into cash via PayPal.

Using gift cards for charitable causes is a great way to get fantastic results with minimum effort – so check out these simple ways to use gift cards for fundraising, and make a difference in your community!