Charitable loyalty coalition aids local businesses
AmeriCardGold has unveiled a new fundraising programme that uses a loyalty card (the 'U-Card') to electronically raise money for community non-profit organisations while helping to boost sales for local business owners.
The programme is being piloted in Loveland, Colorado, USA, in association with local internet media firm Colorado Town. The new 'Loveland Green Card' was designed to reward customers, raise funds for schools, churches, and other local charities, and increase local trade.
Consumer benefits Cards are being distributed for free through the community's non-profit organisations, and each cardholder receives a free credit value of between US$5 and US$10 (depending on the merchant) at each participating local outlet to help drive initial consumer engagement.
Consumers receive rebates for every purchase made using the loyalty card. Each rebate can be redeemed against future purchases with the merchant that issued it.
Every time the card is used, AmeriCardGold automatically sends the customer an e-mail thanking them for visiting the merchant, and reporting their latest reward balances and non-profit donation earnings.
Merchant benefits Local businesses stand to benefit from the scheme in several ways. Apart from building more local trade, the financial model is different from most other community card programmes. Instead of transaction or subscription charges, participating businesses are simply charged a percentage of each transaction's value, with 50% of those fees being donated back to the consumer's charity of choice.
Merchants can also use the card as private gift cards, and load and redeem value for consumers the same way any other gift card would work, but without incurring any additional fees.
Coalition fundraising The stored value card combines localised loyalty rewards, community fundraising, and a gift card application on a single card that works at every merchant inside a regional coalition, and has the benefit of allowing individual merchants to customise the programme for their own clients.
According to Adam Miller, president for AmeriCardGold, "Carrying one card with multiple balances and unique rewards from a wide range of merchants is something that the average consumer has not been able to do until now. Most of these types of programmes use a credit card to track customer spending inside a network of stores. We worked out how to do it with a standard loyalty card that can be distributed in massive quantities through the non-profit community without any complex paperwork or application processes. Once the merchant base is installed in a local town, all consumers have to do is take a card and display it at participating merchants inside the network."
Merchant platform options The system is available in two hardware/software platform options:
- A PC-based point of sale (POS) terminal with a direct internet connection The programme can run directly from the internet through a standard Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser. To use this option, each merchant location must have a cable modem or DSL (high speed) internet access. Customers' cards are swiped using an existing or new card swiper that plugs into the PC's USB port. As an option, a customer receipt can be printed from a local POS printer. When a card is swiped, the customer's profile appears on-screen with various transaction options. All transaction activity is submitted in real-time to AmeriCardGold's central database for back-end reporting, and for any necessary adjustments to be made to the cardholder's account and balances.
- A VeriFone Omni 3750 credit card terminal The programme can also run on the VeriFone Omni 3750 multi-application terminal, which was a large back-lit screen and an integrated receipt printer. The terminal can be used to process debit and credit cards as well as running the rewards programme, or it can be configured to run the rewards programme exclusively. Daily transaction activity is also submitted in real-time to the central database (via a telephone line connection).