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A penny donated is one not missed

Charitable giving

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Scott Jagow: If someone added one penny to every one of your credit card transactions, would you care? The United Way of America is pretty sure you won't.
Today, the charity launches a new campaign that allows people to donate one cent per purchase.
Here's Jeremy Hobson.


Jeremy Hobson: Ten small banks and credit unions are kicking off the program. Customers can opt in.

If it works, there's huge potential, says Alex Sanchez, a senior vice president with United Way. He says Americans make 40 billion credit card purchases every year.

Alex Sanchez: That is an awful, awful lot of pennies.

At a penny per transaction, it's $400 million. Now, Sanchez only expects 1 to 3 percent of consumers to eventually participate.

Sanchez: Still an absolutely significant number of pennies.

So why not ask for a nickel per purchase?

Sanchez: You know, we looked at all those different ways of giving through a credit card. But we really ended up on a penny, because that's the point at which people don't change any other behavior.

Art Taylor heads the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. He says the program is the first of its kind, and will succeed if United Way can prove the money is being put to good use.

Art Taylor: And I guarantee you, if it works, there will be others who follow suit.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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