The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Charity Charge Nonprofit Business Card Helps Organizations Manage Spend and Establish Credit

Charity Charge Nonprofit Business Card Serves Charities
Mike Senecal

Written by: Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal
Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal draws on more than 20 years of editorial experience to update readers on industry trends, business news, and best practices in budgeting and credit use. Mike has worked for decades in academic and trade publishing, including roles as managing editor and technical editor at the University of Florida and as contributor to finance industry publications, including Surety Bond Quarterly and Independent Agent, among others. Mike holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina, and he enjoys bringing his years of academic and industry expertise online to help consumers of diverse financial backgrounds.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

See full bio »

Our experts and industry insiders blog the latest news, studies and current events from inside the credit card industry. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines.

In a Nutshell: Nonprofit charitable organizations, schools, and associations have essential social missions to uphold. Yet they also must exist in the world of business and payments to grow and extend their mission. Charity Charge is a public benefit corporation dedicated to helping nonprofits thrive. The Charity Charge Nonprofit Business Card offers easy no-fee purchasing and spend management exclusively to nonprofits. Charity Charge also provides tips, tools, and information to help nonprofits create and grow a modern organization.

Charitable nonprofit organizations exist to make the world a better place. Donors, grantors, and staff collaborate through philanthropy to fill gaps left by the public and private sectors in healthcare, education, social justice, environmental advocacy, and other equity arenas.

In other words, charitable nonprofits step in when public consensus and the profit motive fall short.

Although charities are mission-driven, they aren’t pie-in-the-sky entities. They must consume resources to operate, grow, and extend their effectiveness. Management, staff, office space, communications tools, partnerships, and much more fall under the purchasing purview of charitable nonprofits.

Charity Charge logo

Just as it’s common for business entrepreneurs to put their credit at risk by bootstrapping their company on a personal credit card, the same is true for nonprofits. It’s never a good idea to mix personal and organizational expenses. But many nonprofits feel they have no choice but to ask staff to purchase with personal cards when the alternative is a high-fee business credit line.

That’s where Charity Charge comes in. The Charity Charge Nonprofit Business Card is a pay-in-full credit card created exclusively for nonprofits. Features include no annual fee and Mastercard® Zero Liability and ID Theft Protection. The card allows nonprofits to manage users, integrate with QuickBooks Online, and build a discrete credit history.

Charity Charge is a public benefit corporation, meaning it is a for-profit entity organized to engender positive social impact. It offers tips, tools, information, and mentorship to help nonprofits gain efficiency and grow.

More than 2,500 US nonprofits work with Charity Charge as a valued partner in driving social change.

“Nonprofits were looking for a card solution for their organization’s purchases,” said Founder and CEO Stephen Garten. “It’s a fit for a nonprofit that wants to focus on its mission instead of being bogged down by unnecessary friction and fees.”

A Public Benefit Corporation Exclusively for Nonprofits

Charity Charge is for organizations that generate at least $100,000 in revenue and have existed for five years or organizations with at least a two-year history that generate $500,000 in revenue, although they have another solution for smaller nonprofits too.

Garten leads the company as his passion and mission in life, according to the Charity Charge website.

“What we’re able to do for nonprofits is something no other ‘credit card company’ has bothered to do,” he said on the site. “I’m so proud of our credit card offering that’s helping nonprofits all across the country.”

Stephen Garten
Founder and CEO Stephen Garten views Charity Charge as his passion and mission.

Charity Charge’s status as a registered public benefit corporation is a big part of that. Charity Charge is a for-profit entity, but public benefit status legally allows it to pursue social impact goals beyond the profit motive.

“I didn’t want to take on random venture capital money or dollars from people I didn’t know I could trust down the line to guide the vision,” Garten said.

The result is a streamlined offering that meshes with the mission-driven goals of nonprofits and puts them in a position to succeed. Charity Charge is free to use. The company receives compensation from Mastercard and Commerce Bank.

Nonprofit staffing is volatile. Creating a discrete credit history for the organization is handy and can result in lower-cost credit and other financial benefits. It’s also easy to transition accounts from outgoing to incoming staff members.

Card management is seamless. There’s no limit to the number of cards, no per-card fees, and easily adjustable spending limits that keep expenses on track. As a pay-in-full credit card, Charity Charge promotes organizational financial discipline.

“We drive responsible credit card use,” Garten said. “Charity Charge is a great way for nonprofits to establish or build credit that makes future borrowing more accessible, say for vehicles or real estate.”

Educational Resources Create a Charitable Ecosystem

Nonprofits gain more than a credit line when they sign up for Charity Charge. They gain access to educational resources on the site and to mentorship and support from Garten and his team.

Garten said there can never be enough education to support mission-driven nonprofits. His focus with Charity Charge is not just about providing a credit card but also an ecosystem that can help charitable organizations thrive.

“That’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Site resources include content devoted to nonprofit marketing, professional development and career growth, technology, financial management, board governance and leadership, and fundraising strategies.

Charity Charge card
The card provides a no-fee entry to spend management and credit building for nonprofits.

Marketing pieces explain success metrics, brand building, email marketing, and automation tools. Professional development and career growth content tackles management courses, remote work, events and conferences, and community service ideas.

Technology articles discuss event and donor management software and the advantages of the Venmo and PayPal financial platforms. Financial management content looks at preparing financial statements and budgeting.

Board governance and leadership material provides valuable insights for building a successful organization. Fundraising content encompasses online strategies and matching gift programs.

“We’ve worked with many unique organizations in cause and size, but we also see many similarities,” Garten said.

Garten spends much of his time learning from organizations so he and the team can introduce elements and components to drive Charity Charge forward. Communicating with nonprofits also allows Garten to mentor them.

An extensive archive of Charity Charge podcasts chronicles Garten’s conversations with nonprofit changemakers and provides source material for up-and-coming organizations. A vibrant Facebook community brings nonprofit voices to the fore.

“Nonprofits aren’t meant to spend beyond their means — they’re meant to have a board and govern their finances very closely,” Garten said. “We set up our ecosystem to match that.”

Supporting Best Practices and the Nonprofit Mission

Garten’s inspiration for Charity Charge came from his experience signing up for a personal rewards credit card. He came to view the points system as empty consumerism and wanted to create a rewards card for consumers to donate to charities.

A few pivots later, Charity Charge as a credit card for nonprofits was born. But the rewards idea continues through a two-part program that gives cardholders access to rebates and discounts with more than 50,000 vendors nationwide.

Garten with Victor Brick
Garten (right) with Victor Brick, Cofounder of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation, a Charity Charge card user.

Through Mastercard® Easy Savings, cardholders earn automatic statement rebates on travel, fuel, and business services. CHAMPS GPO offers 10-20% discounts on office supplies, shipping, transportation, and medical supplies through group purchasing pricing, with no enrollment fees or purchasing minimums.

“Another thing that’s a huge benefit for nonprofits is extended rental car insurance, which is automatic with the card,” Garten said.

Meanwhile, the heart of the program is that it sets up an easy-managed credit line for the nonprofit. With Charity Charge, the days of putting personal credit on the line are gone.

“Our card is underwritten to the organization,” Garten said. “You’ve got people who are passionately running a nonprofit, often underpaid for doing meaningful work, and we’re proud to make their roles a little easier by empowering them to make everyday purchases on a card tied to their organization.”

The result is that Charity Charge brings a credit line’s convenience and financial flexibility to nonprofits so they can follow their passions. And they can do it with a public benefit corporation that shares their commitment.

“If you’re a nonprofit executive director or financial officer, you want to focus on your mission, whatever it is,” Garten said. “Our program is straightforward and empowers you to do just that.”