by Donna M. Airoldi | December 22, 2010

Mobile giving has been all the rage this year, but for those who prefer to give a physical gift—and one that keeps on giving—it’s not too late to purchase Charity Checks and have them delivered before the Christmas holiday.

For orders valued at $100 or more and placed by 3 p.m. EST Dec. 23, 2010, Charity Checks will provide overnight shipping at no extra charge.

The checks come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250, and $1,000, and allow recipients to choose any U.S.–based 501(c)(3) charitable organization they wish to donate to. The company has an online charity location finder where you put in a zip code and the results include nearby charities. Other denominations are available as part of Charity Checks’ customizable service, which also includes printing corporate logos and personalized messages.

Other than a nominal fee for customized orders, there are no other charges. To cover postage expenses, the company asks for a donation. The full amount of the checks gets paid to the nonprofit organizations that redeem them, with no fees or reductions in the amount from the value printed on the certificates.

There is, however, an expiration date. Checks ordered now expire May 31, 2011.

“We use an expiration date to encourage the funds get to charities faster and the money can be put to good work more quickly,” says Lisa Sonne, who cofounded the Los Angeles–based Charity Checks with her husband. “But if people call and need to extend the date, we always have [accommodated those requests] in the past.”

This year also happens to mark the tenth anniversary of Charity Checks. When Sonne and her husband founded the organization in 2000, there weren’t many other options for people wanting to give a donation to a nonprofit organization as a gift.

“The idea of giving somebody a gift to give to any charity was really unusual ten years ago. People were used to giving gifts in someone else’s name, but for a check to be good for any charity, that was completely novel. We had to start from scratch to create a nonprofit and back-end [accounting system] acceptable to the IRS,” says Sonne. “There are so many options now. Click on an ad and a portion goes to charity, pink programs, etc. Also, the number of nonprofits in the United States has really grown. When we started there were about 350,000 501(c)(3)s, now there are over 1.5 million.”

Over the years, Charity Checks have been popular as speakers gifts and employee client gifts.

“They’re also an inexpensive way for small companies that don’t have charitable programs to have employee gift funds,” says Sonne. “Corporate sponsorship of classrooms is a great way to be active in the community and see where funds are going.”

Not surprisingly, Charity Checks has seen fewer sales this year, due to the general state of the economy.

“People have continued to give during the down economy, but the checks are smaller,” says Sonne. “But we’re just really glad people haven’t stopped their generosity. It’s been wonderful to see families develop new traditions for the holidays, based on helping others, and it’s great to get thank you notes from companies and people who are so glad this gift option exists.”

For more information or to order, call (800) 854-5601 or visit