by Donna M. Airoldi | November 18, 2010

The holiday season isn’t just for giving thanks to your loyal employees and customers, it’s also an ideal time to give back to the community. One organization, the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC), a strategic industry group within the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), is doing just that with its holiday drive to collect gift card donations from members to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Make-A-Wish, which was founded 30 years ago and today has 64 chapters in the United States and its territories, grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“The Foundation will utilize the gift cards to fulfill wishes, which ultimately helps to reduce the average wish cost. [The cards] will also be used for wish enhancements and wish parties,” says Beth Murnane, corporate development manager of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. “We are extremely grateful to IGCC and all of its member companies for their generosity.”

This is the first year the IGCC is running a holiday drive.

“Over the last year or so, many IGCC members—who are highly committed professionals representing the gift card sector for most of America’s leading national retailers—have discussed helping some less fortunate folks in our communities,” says Rory B. Smith, director of sales for Lisle, IL-based Royal Performance Group (the service provider for Shell gift cards), and chair of the 10-member volunteer IGCC Task Team, which was formed as soon as the executive committee approved the donation idea.

“The gift card industry is about gifts and excitement and making dreams come true for people, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation is about making wishes and dreams come true for children who have life-threatening illnesses,” adds Smith. “What better fit could there be for our selected charity for 2010?”

IGCC considered many worthy national charities, but ultimately selected the Make-A-Wish Foundation because the organization indicated that it was always looking for gift card donations since cards could easily fit into almost every wish, “from obvious cards like Disney, to not-so-obvious ones, like gas cards for getting children to the hospital,” says Smith. “As a sick child greatly challenges an entire family, often with huge bills, gift cards are helpful in offsetting some of these burdens.”

Since launching the drive in October with a goal of collecting at least one donation per IGCC member, the group has raised more than $10,000 worth of gift cards—from hotel, restaurant, entertainment, gas, grocery, and super-store retailers—and with about two weeks to go in its campaign (donated cards should be delivered by Nov. 30), anticipates that the finally tally could reach $15,000, which the group is really pleased with, says Smith.

More than 40 companies have contributed thus far. In addition to Smith’s company Royal Performance Group/Shell, donors include Arden Red Door Spas, Marriott Global Incentives & Gift Cards, InteliSpend, Fandango, National Gift Card Corp., Staples, Travelocity Incentives, Nike, Carlson Marketing, Bass Pro Shops, the Children’s Place, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, the Home Depot, Lowe’s, Hyatt Hotels, Hallmark Business Connections, and many others.

To contribute, see a complete list of donors, and learn more about the program and IGCC, visit www.usegiftcards.org. For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wish.org.