At the height of the recession, IRN Payment Systems President Dino Sgueglia founded the nonprofit organization Danny's Wish to honor his son, now 15, who by all accounts has led a normal, active life. But early on Danny was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disability that reportedly afflicts 1 in 88 children born in the United States today.
Because autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects the development of social and communication skills, it renders speech difficult. Through Danny's Wish, Sgueglia launched iPads for Autism, a program that helps bridge the communication gap by providing specially equipped Apple Inc. iPads to deserving families. Each of the iPads comes embedded with Proloque2Go, an application that enables autistic children to communicate using touch-screen symbols.
"It gives these kids like Danny, who don't speak and don't have the ability to actually communicate, the ability to read pictures and voices and different types of cues that you set up for them," Sgueglia said. He added that requests for the specially equipped iPads are now coming from as far away as Europe.
The next step for Sgueglia was to figure out how to generate recurring donations to charitable organizations, without creating an after-tax dollar burden on a particular person, group or company. After much research and consulting with a prominent law firm in Long Island, N.Y., he founded a second organization known as The Hope Process.
The way it works is straightforward. Merchants who switch their credit card processing to The Hope Process, which is powered by IRN, are entitled to rebates on their monthly processing. Rebates are issued to merchants directly or to a maximum of two merchant-designated charities per quarter. The Hope Process provides a rebate equal to 100 percent of the net profitability based on card processing the first year, and 25 percent each year thereafter that merchants remain a member of The Hope Process.
"You're paying X for credit card processing; we're going to charge you exactly the same price as you're paying now, no difference," Sgueglia said. "But every month, we're going to show you how much you're getting back in a rebate, and every quarter we're going to send that rebate to the charity of your choice. You're using the business resources to actually fund a charity of your choice, up to eight charities a year, and you're potentially eligible for a tax deduction."
Sgueglia would like to see more issuers and acquirers adopt a similar approach to charitable giving. "I would love for all the other credit card processors in the industry to do it," he said. "If they call me, I will tell them how to do it. At the end of the day they're going to get market share."
Sgueglia is already planning the next stage, which is to build the first Danny's Wish Center for Autism. His goal is to one day provide better treatment methods for ASD patients.
"We're working right now on a business plan to try to build a center here in Long Island and, hopefully, have eight of them across the United States," he said. "That's one thing we're working on, because there has to be a core of different teams of doctors to treat this aggressively. You can't just throw in nutrition and not treat sensory integration. You can't just treat sensory integration and not nutrition and vitamin supplements."
In Sgueglia's experience, the medical community has tended to place a greater emphasis on treating symptoms than the root causes of conditions that persist with ASD. For example, after ordering several blood tests, he found Danny was not absorbing Vitamins A and D properly and lacked two vital bacteria necessary for food digestion. He adjusted his son's diet to include probiotics, vitamin supplements and enzymes. Danny is now thriving. Sgueglia's hope is that others will thrive, too.
Editor's note: If you're involved in charitable work, or if you know of other payment professionals who are giving back to local, national or international communities, we'd like to know so we can spotlight such inspiring efforts in Gift of Giving, a new periodic feature in The Green Sheet. Reach out to us via email at email@example.com or by phone at 800-747-4441.
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