If you use a credit card to pay your business expenses, chances are you are also earning points back on everything you spend. Whether those points are redeemable for cash back, merchandise, gift cards, or travel expenses, they can really start to add up.
Last year, we started a program to use those points to help causes we're passionate about. Below is a recap of how we make this work - perhaps other business owners might consider implementing something similar.
Here's how it works
- I redeem our credit card points periodically for gift cards at stores I normally shop at for basics and items I'd be buying anyway (Amazon for diapers, Target for groceries, etc).
- I personally use the gift cards for stuff for my family - just like any other gift card. For tax reasons, I don't use them for business expenses, since I wouldn't be able to deduct the expenses paid for with the gift cards.
- With our particular credit card, the points go further (have a higher cash value) when redeemed for gift cards than they do for cash back towards purchases, merchandise or travel.
- Next, we divide up the cash value of those gift cards among us, and each of us gets to choose a cause or charitable organization that we'd like to donate to.
- If the chosen cause benefits the most from a cash donation, I make the donation using our business credit card (which in turn, earns more points for the next cash-in).
- Some causes may benefit more from in-kind gifts or supplies, in which case we'd purchase the supplies with said credit card. Again, more points for next year!
We had quite a few credit card points racked up again this year and were able to donate $1,000.
Here's how we chose to contribute to organizations making a difference this year:
Allison chose to donate $500 to SAFEHOME, a Johnson County, KS organization that by provides shelter, advocacy, counseling, and prevention education to domestic violence victims and their children.
Violence inflicted by a trusted partner is more prevalent than most people realize, affects every demographic, and causes a wide range of negative indirect issues (beyond the obvious direct effect on the individual):
- On average, in the United States alone, 24 people PER MINUTE are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by a partner. That's over 12 million women and men each year.
- In almost 1 in 4 cases of partner violence, a child witnessed the violence.
- The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect suggests that domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in the US.
- One in 10 high school students has experienced physical violence from a dating partner in the past year.
- Nearly 8 million days of paid work each year is lost due to domestic violence issues – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs. (source)
SAFEHOME provides a healing atmosphere where survivors of domestic violence can gain inner strength, build self-esteem, explore options, and establish a life free of violence. Through SAFEHOME’s shelter and community services, approximately 7,300 individuals each year receive the support they need to lead healthy, independent lives.
Their generous network of staff, counselors and volunteers provide shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling, healthcare advocacy, children's services, transitional housing, economic advisory, as well as court and legal services. Last year, SAFEHOME provided almost 18,000 nights of safety for women and children affected by domestic violence and partner abuse.
We're confident that our donation of $500 will help SAFEHOME provide the needed supplies and services for those in our area who need their immediate help.
Andrew chose to donate $500 to the ALS Association Mid-America Chapter, an organization that supports people living with ALS through education, assistance, and research
Why I Chose The ALS Association
I, like many people, I had heard of Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) from time to time, but never really understood the gravity of the disease. Many of us became familiar with the disease after the viral "ice bucket challenge" in 2014. This helped make some great headway, so let's keep the momentum going!
It wasn't until my wife became a nurse, and she told me about the progression and symptoms, that I learned how debilitating and life-altering this degenerative disease could be. Currently, there is no known cure, but with support, early diagnosis, and proper treatment, patients can significantly slow down the rate of progression.
The ALS Association offers these services, just to name a few:
- Support - assistance for newly diagnosed patients, specialist placement, and family teaching/support
- Clinical Care - certifies and partners with top health care institutions in the area that are specifically suited for the needs of ALS patients
- Outreach - presents/teaches ALS awareness to local legislators, healthcare professionals, and unreached areas of the public
The ALS Association has already been able to significantly increase yearly funding, eliminate a 2 year waiting period for medicare, help veterans with ALS get access to VA benefits, and much more. If you want to get involved, go to www.alsa.org to find your local chapter!