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Guide to donating to HIV/AIDS awareness

With so much pressure to spend money this holiday season, consider making a charitable donation for AIDS awareness month


With December being AIDS awareness month and December 1 World AIDS day, the spotlight is on HIV and AIDS awareness, causing many people to consider how they can donate this holiday season.

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There are approximately 37.7 million people globally living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. There is no effective cure to date, but dozens of nonprofits worldwide are fighting to combat the disease that has taken the lives of nearly 36.3 million people since the start of the epidemic in 1981.

Donating to causes such as HIV and AIDS research has become easier than ever as more organizations begin using online donation portals and partnering with businesses such as Amazon. Everyday shoppers can effortlessly support the fight against HIV and AIDS just by being mindful of where they shop online or using cash back rewards to donate directly to a charitable cause.

Shop smarter and make a difference

Organizations such as (RED) have been partnering with brands to help raise money and awareness for the fight against HIV/AIDS. By shopping for these brands or through certain portals, you can contribute to health and community programs around the world that are working to stop HIV/AIDS.

(RED) Partners

(RED) is one of the largest and most well-known organizations dedicated to the elimination of HIV/AIDS. Every year, it partners with big brands to collaborate on special edition items. Brands donate a certain amount to the Global Fund for each purchase of a (RED) collection item.

Here are some of their 2021 partners:

  • Apple: As a (RED) partner for 14 years, Apple has raised nearly $250 million for the global fund through its line of products to support (RED), including a special edition iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7. Through December 31, Apple is working with (RED) to redirect 100% of eligible proceeds from (PRODUCT)RED purchases to the Global Fund COVID-19 response. This provides critical support to health systems most vulnerable to the outbreak, and helps preserve HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Bank of America: By renewing its partnership with (RED) through 2025, Bank of America is expanding its commitment to the AIDS fight with more than $35 million in donations to date. For every dollar donated to (RED) through December 31, Bank of America will triple your contribution.
  • Beats: Beats donates a portion of the proceeds from every (PRODUCT)RED Solo3 Wireless Headphones sale and (PRODUCT)RED Pill+ Portable Speaker purchased to help support the fight to end HIV/AIDS.
  • Telcel and Claro: By donating a portion of every (TELCEL)RED phone purchased, Telcel and Claro are helping fund programs in high-prevalence countries in Africa and Latin America. Telcel also raises awareness for AIDS by hosting annual road races in Mexico.
  • Starbucks: Since launching its partnership in 2008, Starbucks has contributed over $16 million to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS with (RED).
  • Fiat: (RED) and Fiat have partnered to fight HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 by donating a portion of the proceeds from its (500)RED Family vehicle sales to the Global Fund. Fiat is committed to supporting the range of prevention, treatment, counseling, testing, education, and care services for communities in need.

You can check out the full list of collaborations that support (RED) ‘s mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic on its website. You can also support (RED) by shopping for products on Amazon. Amazon offers a large line of (RED) products, including a few of the special edition items listed above, to online customers. (RED)-supported Global Fund grants from proceeds gained through Amazon purchases go to programs focused on empowering women and girls, supporting health care workers, providing access to testing and treatment, education programs and fighting the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Using your credit card to fight HIV/AIDS

By using your credit card to donate, you can earn rewards or cash back on your donation. Many credit card issuers, major airlines and hotel loyalty programs allow customers to donate unused points and miles to support a wide variety of causes, but options tend to be limited. As it becomes more widely discussed, we hope this list is expanded to a wider pool of charities.

If you have a cash back card, you can cash out your rewards and donate that money wherever you want. Some card issuers will offer charitable donations as a redemption option.

If you are an American Express cardholder, you can also donate to a wide variety of charities supported through JustGiving by using your Membership Rewards to donate to charities, including Aid for Aids International.

Multiple airlines have at least one donation partner that contributes to the cause, and there are a few hotel chains that also allow you to donate rewards points to charities like Unicef, which uses funds to help those affected by HIV/AIDS. American Airlines has been the participating airline of the Change for Good program since 1994. American Airlines AAdvantage members can donate miles as part of its Miles for Social Good program, which supports impact organizations, including UNICEF USA.

Hotel loyalty programs give members the option to donate to a variety of charities. Hilton Honors has an extensive list of charities you can donate to directly from your account through its partnership with PointWorthy, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, among many others.

Best credit cards to use for charitable donations

Donating with your credit card is a great way to give back while earning rewards, however, the downside to using a credit card for charitable donations is the transaction or processing fee that may be applied. For most cards, the fees range from 2% to 4% of the total amount charged.

We are all familiar with the fees credit card issuers charge merchants, but the same fees can be directly charged to charitable organizations when you make a donation using your credit card. While this shouldn’t discourage you from donating, it is something to keep in mind when maximizing your online donation.

With that in mind, here are some of the best credit cards to use when making a donation this holiday season:

  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card: The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on non-bonus categories such as charitable donations.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card: You’ll earn 2% cash back (1% when you buy and an additional 1% when you pay it off) on every purchase you make, including charitable donations. Your rewards can also be transferred to a Citi ThankYou account from where you can directly donate your rewards balance to one of Citi’s eight nonprofit partners, including UNICEF USA.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: The Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5% cash back on all general purchases, including charitable donations.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: If you are thinking about making a large donation, The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers 1.5X Membership Rewards points for all purchases over $5,000. If you are making a donation, it is important to note that this 1.5X multiplier only applies to individual charges of $5,000 or more (cap applies).

Choosing a reputable charity to support

As it becomes easier to donate online and support causes through co-branded shopping experiences, it also becomes easier to fall prey to scams. Here are a few things to consider when choosing where to donate and which charities to support:

  • Check to see if they are a 501(c)(3) charity. This exemption status is typically a high indicator that an organization isn’t secretly supporting private stakeholders or individual interests. You can do a quick online search through an IRS finder tool, or you can call toll-free at 1-877-829-5500.
  • Know where they spend their money. Many charities spend more money on fundraising than they do on actually helping the cause(s) they support. If a charity is spending less than 50 percent of its budget on its programs, you might want to consider donating to an organization where you know your money is going directly towards helping people in need.
  • Donate at the source. While GoFundMe pages and other crowdfunding sites have gone viral in recent years with campaigns that support just about any and every cause, it’s always safer to donate to organizations and causes directly through their website donation portals.
  • Keep your information safe. Make sure you aren’t sharing information unless it’s through a secure form on a secure website.

HIV/AIDS Charities you should consider donating to

Choosing the right charity can be challenging because there are so many nonprofit organizations fostering education efforts, research, and providing care to our most vulnerable communities at home and across the globe. Here are a few vital charities that have worked tirelessly for decades to combat HIV/AIDS:

  • UNAIDS: Since it started operations in 1996, UNAIDS has helped to position, shape and scale up the response to HIV in order to provide strategic information and direction to communities most affected by the disease. UNAIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • AIDS United: Established following the merger between the National AIDS Fund and the AIDS Action advocacy group, AIDS United has spent decades supporting community-driven efforts to combat HIV. The agency supports over 300 organizations with direct and indirect grants and works to expand access to care, capacity-building, HIV advocacy and prevention.
  • Black AIDS Institute: Black Aids Institute was created in 1999 to mobilize and educate Black Americans about HIV/AIDS treatment and care. BAI is the only Black HIV “think and do” tank in America dedicated to ending the HIV epidemic through revolutionizing the HIV response by centering Black experiences and perspectives.
  • The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR): amfAR’s mission is to end the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. It is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, education and advocacy.
  • Housing Works: Since 1990, Housing Works has been fighting for funding and legislation to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to quality housing, healthcare, HIV prevention and treatment and many other services. Their mission is to end the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS.
  • Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is committed to a comprehensive response to fighting HIV/AIDS through research, global advocacy, strengthening of local health care systems, and growing the capacity of governments and communities in the world’s most affected regions.

There are so many ways you can help those in need all year round. By using credit card rewards and being mindful of where you shop, you can help change the lives of the millions of people worldwide who suffer from HIV/AIDS.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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