I find most charities have a website that allows you to donate via credit card, paypal, or a physical address you can mail checks (if you dig hard enough). Each have their own transaction costs.

  • Paypal - easy to find transaction rates, plus slightly lower costs for 501c3
  • Credit card - unclear exactly what the transaction rate is, but appears that it probably varies slightly by card provider. One benefit of donating with credit card is that most credit cards have rewards or cash back, which means a slightly larger donation can be made.
  • Check - no specific transaction cost per se, but requires time for a paid employee or volunteer to process the check. Impossible for me to know the true cost of this.

Now I'm not donating at Bill Gates level, but I'd still like to maximize my donation by reducing the transaction cost to the charity as much as possible. So which of these methods would typically be advised for lowest transaction costs? Does the answer change as the charitable donation is increased ($100, $1k, $10k, etc.)?