Charitable Advice

Dear Loyal Readers,
I recently decided to cash out my credit card points from my American Express card to move. In my program each point is worth 1/2 a cent. As you could imagine most of the items in their store are “overpriced” at that ratio, but through their “Giving Express” program, AmEx allows for donating points at a rate of 1 cent per point to any charity in the GuideStar database.
I currently have 8,000 points left which translates into one $50 donation and three $10 donations.1 The question is, where should it go?

This is a surprisingly difficult decision. I’ve been trying to come up with some plan for maximizing how much good can be done. Since AmEx deducts 2.25% per donation to “cover processing costs,” I know I’m better off giving at least $50 to one organization.
Years ago I wrote about charity navigator2 which has been helpful to some extent, though not all charities are listed in GuideStar. But this doesn’t make the decision any easier. For example, here are the some3 charities I’m currently considering:

I’m open to more suggestions, but I’m more curious how people make such decisions. For myself at least, I’m realizing that I tend towards smaller charities with a focused mission. To the loyal readership out there: what are your criteria and inclinations regarding donating to charities?
I’ll add a comment when I’ve made a decision, but at least I know that for this decision, there’s no real wrong answer.

1. I’m restricted to 1,000 and 5,000 point denominations.
2. In an update to that post, the Masorati Foundation has made significant improvements since then, now earning a 4 star rating.
3. This is not an exhaustive list, but just one to show how difficult the decision can be. I mean, how do you answer the question: “should I help battered women or sick children?”


  1. Naomi
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