DALLAS (WFAA) -- Gift cards can be the perfect gift when you cannot seem to find the perfect gift. But research shows they can also become a perfectly good waste of money. Tower Group found between the years 2005-2011, nearly $42 billion dollars in unused gift card balances went by the wayside.
On a micro level, Andrew Ydoyaga was confronted with the same problem a couple of years ago.
“I had all these left over gift cards from the holidays and I did not know what I was going to do with them,” said the 19-year-old Ydoyaga.
But the answer came to him thanks to a class project while he attended Richland College. While tasked with creating something to benefit his local community, Ydoyaga developed the concept of GiftCards4Change.org. Now that college project has become a registered non-profit charity hoping to make good use of the unused.
“It is just an insane amount of money going to waste.”
GiftCards4Change.org allows people to donate the unused balances on their gift cards to a number of causes. Ydoyaga said the charity is picking up steam having already liquidated thousands of dollar in gift cards while also receiving grants to support their efforts.
It took some talking and convincing to get the backing of the companies who allow GiftCards4Change to liquidate the cards, but Ydoyaga said once he finds the right person to speak with and explains the mission, the companies have been willing to support the cause. Right now, about 30 companies are on board and Ydoyage said some of them like Starbucks have even matched amounts donated from cards.
On the GiftCards4Change.org website, there are several different causes from Habitat to Humanity to child advocacy organizations to homeless services. Ydoyaga believes with as much unused money is sitting on little pieces of plastic, there is plenty to go around.
“We believe we can help a lot of people with that money. Even just 10-percent of $42 billion would help a lot.”