Minnesota Superheroes: The Community HeroCard Rewards Cardholders for Shopping Locally

The HeroCard program in Minneapolis, Minnesota rewards members for their volunteering and local shopping efforts.

| July/August 2003

Good citizens know they help their community by volunteering and shopping locally, but their valiant deeds typically get as little attention as Clark Kent. Community HeroCard rushes to the rescue. Minneapolis do-gooders carry a card that earns them - and their nonprofit organization of choice - financial rewards while supporting local businesses.

It's a bird; It's a plane: Developed in Minneapolis by CHC Data, the Community HeroCard program combines community service with customer loyalty. Cardholders earn financial rewards by shopping at local stores and restaurants; rewards double if they volunteer at a participating nonprofit organization.

Able to leap tall buildings: The credit card-size HeroCard contains a magnetic strip encoded with the cardholder's name and volunteer organization. It functions like a customer loyalty card, but with the advantage of allowing shoppers to spend rebates earned in one store at any participating merchant. Each business decides how much of a rebate to provide, ranging from 5 to 20 percent of a total purchase. About 2,000 Minneapolis residents, 24 nonprofit organizations, and 40 local stores participate.

In a typical transaction, a $100 purchase generates a $10 rebate from the merchant. The cardholder earns a $4 credit to spend at participating stores; CHC Data collects $2 to fund the program. The remaining $4 are credited to the cardholder if he or she volunteers at a local nonprofit within 180 days. If not, the money is donated to the cardholder's chosen nonprofit.

Coming to a town near you: CHC Data plans to bring HeroCard to Washington, D.C.; Boulder, Colorado; Phoenix; and California's Stockton/Tracy/Modesto area.

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