GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

Banner Ad
Issue 06:11:02
News

Industry Update

Access controls key to secure POS network

Interchange: Something's got to give

2006 Holiday shopping preview

Features

Money for nothing, Czechs for free

By Missy Baxter, ATMmarketplace.com

Industry Leader:
Stuart H. Rosenbaum

Respecting the art of sales

Card Associations get aggressive on PCI enforcement

Views

The skinny on cash advances

By Patti Murphy, The Takoma Group

Ride the direct seller wireless wave

By George E. Devitt, WAY Systems Inc.

Garbage in, garbage out order fulfillment: An obvious solution

By Biff Matthews, CardWare International

Education

Street SmartsSM:
One small man provides giant inspiration

By Michael Nardy, Electronic Payments Inc. (EPI)

It's now or never: Get time on your side

By Jason A. Felts, Advanced Merchant Services Inc.

Are you liable for data security breaches?

By Adam Atlas, Attorney at Law

Hackers anonymous and ominous

By Joel Rydbeck, Nubrek Inc.

The ABCs of the ADCR

By Ross Federgreen, CSRSI

New Products

PIN pad for a global market: Flexibility is the key

Sell your merchants on RDC of checks

Working hand in glove with back-office software

Company Profiles

Chase Paymentech Solutions LLC

Inspiration

Angels come in all forms, including yours

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

The do good, feel good godsend of giving

Many people who are in the payments industry, or have ties to it, contribute time and money to charity throughout the year. Their methods can be highly public. For example, Oprah Winfrey gave $1,000 debit cards to more than 300 audience members during her Oct. 30, 2006, telecast - with instructions to donate the cards to their favorite causes.

Or, donors can be nearly anonymous. For instance, the merchant level salespeople (MLSs) of the GS Online MLS Forum took up a collection when a fellow member lost his home in a catastrophic fire.

The reasons for supporting charitable causes are many. They can encompass feelings of satisfaction from knowing you are aiding an important cause, potential tax savings, increased respect from your employees, closer ties to like-minded customers and being valued as a responsible member of the communities you serve.

Considerable commitments

American National Payments has an active charitable contribution calendar. Its employees have donated over 5,000 volunteer hours, more than $10,000 in advertising costs, and thousands of dollars in direct contributions to a wide range of community causes - in 2006 alone.

"We feel strongly that if you are doing well, you owe it to the community to give something back," said Lisa Lineback, the ANP Senior Vice President who oversees the firm's charitable activities.

Marc Gardner of North American Bancard agrees. His company has made a conscious effort to increase its charitable contributions as it grows.

Glenn Goldman, Chief Executive Officer of Capital Access Network, the parent company of AdvanceMe Inc., was recently honored by Herbert G. Birch Services for being one of its "heavyweight" supporters. The agency offers special education services to people facing significant challenges in the New York area.

Goldman first learned of the nonprofit in a "60 Minutes" television segment. "My family and I jumped at the opportunity to become involved," Goldman said. "In our more than 10 years of service, our lives have been enriched and enlightened not only by our relationship with the children and adults served, but also with the staff and volunteers of the Birch organization."

Benevolent betting

Jared Isaacman, CEO of United Bank Card Inc., has hosted the Charity Poker Tour at every regional acquirers' association show for the past couple of years. Tournament proceeds have been donated to Goodwill Rescue Mission in Newark, N.J. (a homeless shelter), as well as various foundations established to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"In addition to the business donations and money raised from the Charity Poker Tour, I have also donated personally to the same foundations," Isaacman said. "To date, proceeds from the Charity Poker Tour alone are reaching close to $75,000."

UBC is also working to modify its merchant application to include an option for automatic donations. "Essentially, the merchant can select which foundation they are interested in donating to (we will offer a variety on the application) and a dollar amount they would like automatically donated ... on their behalf," Isaacman said.

"This could be as little as $0.01 per transaction, or more," he said. "UBC will provide stickers to the merchant that can be placed on their window that will alert the community and consumers that proceeds from every transaction will be donated to the charity. We believe this will increase consumer spending at that merchant's location, which in turn will result in more money raised for the various foundations.

"UBC will provide monthly and annual recap reports for the merchant to identify how much has been raised on their behalf. I personally believe that more consumers and more business owners would donate to charity if they simply had the time to think about it and make the effort."

With this automatic donation plan, "everyday commerce will fuel the donations. It allows everyday purchases to add up and hopefully make a global difference," he said.

POS charity

Electronic Payments Inc.'s (EPI's) Money Back Processing program allows merchants to select causes that will receive a percentage of the processing fees they pay. The program's tag line is "Charity begins at the point of sale."

"If a merchant paid $100 in fees, and we rebate to the charity 1% of their fees, then that charity is getting $1 per merchant per month," said Michael Nardy, EPI's CEO. "Our program right now allows for charities to receive between 1% and 10% of the fees charged to the merchant, and it is quite successful.

"It may be a very small amount remitted to the charity, but it adds up. Last year, our ... efforts were able to donate more than $10,000 in EPI corporate donations to charity."

Fast Transact Inc. is developing a "split-funding" program. "It is similar to the system some cash-advance companies use," said Fast Transact President Anna Solomon. "This program is still in the development stage while we figure out some of the reporting/funding issues.

"What we hope to accomplish is that a merchant chooses a percentage of their processing to be sent to a designated charity. We contact that organization and set up ACH [automated clearing house] deposit with them."

Alternatively, American National Payments offers reduced processing rates to nonprofits.

Causal coffers

Hurricane Katrina offered one snapshot of the payments industry's generosity:

Soon after the hurricane hit, American Express Co., MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa U.S.A. each donated $1 million or more to Hurricane Katrina relief organizations. Morgan Stanley's Discover Financial Services LLC donated at least $2 million. Western Union cut its service fees in half for its Money In Minutes transactions sent from within the United States to states in the hurricane's path.

Dozens of ISOs and hundreds of individuals in our industry also donated time and money in Katrina's aftermath.

But donations can take many forms. Payment processing professionals have quietly and steadily been giving to others in need. For example, Ed Paez ("MLS King" on the GS Online MLS Forum) and his wife, Helen, donate food and clothing every November to hundreds of people in the Philippines.

They also volunteer with the Red Cross and their church. In addition, they own three medical clinics in the Philippines. The clinics offer free or low-cost services to the poor.

"My wife's a nurse, and she is very passionate about what she does," Paez says. "She is the charitable one. I learned from her and her family. We made it a point not to turn anyone away seeking medical help just because they can't pay. It's not work; it's love for others."

A forum of giving

MLS Forum members responded with overwhelming generosity when David Hanlin's ("Slick Streetman" on the Forum) house burned down while damage done to it by Hurricane Katrina was being repaired. Building costs had gone up since Hanlin had purchased his home insurance - particularly in the aftermath of Katrina. Hanlin found himself underinsured and staying with relatives.

By coincidence, Rick White ("hipoint" on the Forum) called right after the fire. He posted a message on the Forum titled "Slick troubles." Forum members rallied.

Dozens of members sent checks and gift cards "from $25 right up to an extremely generous check from Bob Carr [of Heartland Payment Systems Inc.]," Hanlin said. "It was not just the physical loss of our house - and my office. It was the emotional effects of the fire that was shocking.

"My wife, Ruby, and I were volunteer rape-crisis counselors. ... We attended training to learn how to give [rape victims] support in their tragic time of need. The course taught us how devastated, violated, terrorized, and spiritually crushed that the victim would be. I told Ruby several days after the fire that I can now more [empathetically] understand how a rape victim felt. She said, 'Yeah, I know what you mean.'

"Ruby was so depressed after the fire that she cried daily. When the checks and gift cards started coming in, Ruby started smiling for the first time in several weeks. It raised my spirits greatly. ... I could see her rising out of the victim role and getting back to her cheerful self again.

"The kindness of the people on the Forum really helped bring us out of our gloom and doom. They're like an alternative family, but many of them had [n]ever actually met us. Quite honestly, with all the work I missed, I don't know what we would have done without their kind help."

Karmic circle

Most contributors say they get as much - or more - from giving as do the organizations or people receiving their gifts. The most generous contributors don't do it for the recognition. Many individuals interviewed for this article were actually bashful about The Green Sheet touting their accomplishments.

"I don't do these charities for any publicity," said Jerry Cain, CEO of iMax Bancard. "It is purely because it is a good cause." Many, like Steven H. Bryson, CEO of Global Electronic Technology Inc., agreed to be interviewed because they thought it would be worthwhile "if it gets even one more individual to become charitable."

But in the spirit of what goes around comes around, many have found their businesses also gain something. Some cite the rewards of networking and the benefits of displaying a more humane face in a field that has a reputation for being money-hungry. Sometimes they find concrete business benefits, as well. Some such benefits are expected; others are a surprise.

A well-know perk for philanthropy is a reduction in taxes. "Generally, for individuals, contributions to tax-exempt charitable organizations are limited to 50% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income for the tax year," said Craig Harris, Director of Liberty Tax Service Inc.'s Tax Department.

"For S [corporations] and partnerships, charitable contributions are passed though to the individual and are taken on the individual's return. For a C corp., charitable contributions can be taken as an expense against taxable income up to 10% of that income," he said.

Chuck Saden, President of POS Card Processing, supports the Future Farmers of America, low-dose naltrexone (a potential HIV/AIDS therapy) projects and a number of multiple sclerosis (MS) causes, including the BP MS 150 Bike Tour and the MS Walk annual events. Saden signs up as a rider every year, but because he has MS, he doesn't ride.

"Each year, I find someone at the last minute that needs funds to hit their fundraising goals," Saden explains. "One was a waiter at one of our accounts. He said he was training for the MS 150. When I asked him if he had his fund raising goal yet, he truthfully said he was way short. He was shocked when I ... had one of my $300 accounts assigned to him.

"He wasn't going to ride, but he said it changed his life. I imagine he was going to blow it off without having the funds goal hit. I like that he thought I was helping him, when he was helping me."

Another year, Saden made a donation to a rider in need, and "the next thing you know, she had her mom give us the POS card processing on their three restaurants."

Munificence multiplied

Lineback knows of several ANP employees who chose to work there because of the company's community involvement. "Not only are we making money, but we're also trying to make a difference," she said.

"The fact that we make an effort to give something back makes it an easier sale, I think, and at the end of the day, people like to feel good about their organization."

As the holiday season approaches, opportunities to make a positive difference in the world abound. North American Bancard, for example, is sponsoring 150 kids in the Michigan Department of Human Services' foster care program this holiday season.

"We have 150 employees in this location, and the response from the employees was overwhelming, so we asked for 150 kids to help out this year," said NAB's Julianne Gordon. NAB employees will provide children with gifts, and the company is footing the bill for a holiday party.

That bill and similar obligations incurred by members of the payments industry are bound to be a pleasure to pay.

Article published in issue number 061102

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2006, The Green Sheet, Inc.