In May I worked a gala for a group here in the Washington, D.C. area. During our wrap-up conversation, the Gala Chair commented that a good friend of hers accompanied her to the event, eager to spend money.
Upon arrival, she learned that the group’s auction checkout procedures didn’t include taking AMEX. They’d opted against setting up an AMEX account. She couldn’t buy anything.
Our assembly listened to the story and then one of the women explained. “The Board has repeatedly decided not to accept AMEX because of its higher fees.”
This is a comment I’ve heard before. Groups decide to accept only Visa and Mastercard (and sometimes Discover) to avoid the higher fees charged by AMEX.
But is it possible that AMEX users buy more at your charity auction?
If so, perhaps it would be worth accepting the card – even with its higher fees – if you made thousands of more dollars.
Last fall during an educational teleclass, I asked an expert for an answer on this persistent question.
GreaterGiving has processed $1.5 billion for nonprofits from over 20,000 nonprofit events. They have a good idea of what people spend at charity auctions and how they choose to spend it. I asked my contact at the company to weigh in on this debate.
She did some digging and shared two pieces of juicy information.
- About 1/5 — 20% — of your donors will swipe AMEX, when given the opportunity.
- About 30% of the processing dollars go to AMEX.
AMEX accounts for a relatively small 20% of the transactions, but accounts for a whopping 30% of the processing. The remaining 70% is split between Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.
Yes, AMEX donors spend more.
She went on to tell a story about a guest who had spent $2000 at a charity auction, but confided she was ready to spend $5000 on one item. “I couldn’t do it,” she lamented, “because this group would only take my Visa and it’s got a $2000 limit.”
What about you? Are you a dedicated AMEX lover or just can’t understand the fuss?
Comments welcomed below.