Swiping cards for a charitable cause

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Great Neck-based Reliance Star Payment Services has been helping businesses on the North Shore and across the country accept credit card payments since 2004.
But now, Reliance Star co-founder John Kim said, the company is looking to provide a service for local nonprofit organizations and charities.
“The nonprofits are really struggling in terms of awareness. Not too many people know what they do and where they are located and how to really reach out to them and help them,” Kim said. “So why not, as a processing company, create an initiative where we help the merchants really make a bigger impact to the local communities? I think it’s going to be great for their business.”
He said Reliance Star has officially launched its “Payments for a Cause” initiative, which allows businesses that use the company’s services to donate a portion of  processing fees to a charity of their choosing.
“We’re really looking to meet up with local business leaders, nonprofit leaders and business owners that are interested to get involved and enroll in the program,” Kim said. “We’re allowing them to, if they have a charity that they support or are passionate about, they can let us know and we’ll contact the charity directly and set them up for the program.”
He said that once businesses sign up with Reliance Star to process their credit card payments, each business chooses which charity or nonprofit it wants to support and that group will then receive 10 percent of the monthly processing fees.
There is no additional cost to switch to Reliance Star and the company will give a free assessment to a prospective business  explaining  the processing cost and how much money  can be saved.
Kim said a big part of the “Payments for a Cause” initiative is using social media to link business leaders, businesses and nonprofit groups because it allows shoppers to see how local businesses are affecting communities and gives them a reason to patronize those businesses.
“I think it will help them market their business because, talking to restaurant owners everyday, they’re struggling,” he said. “The data shows that about eight out of 10 new restaurants that start close down. It’s a tough business.”
“We thought this would be a great way to really bring everyone together,” Kim added.
He said that Reliance Star has been reaching out to local business leaders and various Chambers of Commerce on Long Island to spread word about the program.
Reliance Star’s website for the program, paymentforcause.com,  lists charities that businesses can support.
Kim said that charities interested in getting on the list can submit an online form and his team will reach out and get more information so they can become an option for the program.
He also said that if business owners are unsure  whom to support, Reliance Star can make recommendations.
“Payments for a Cause,” Kim said, is “basically a start-up” and the focus is currently on reaching out to the media, business leaders and businesses to inform them about the initiative.
“We want to focus on the Long Island area first, and we’ll move into the Queens area, eventually New York City,” he said. “But I think Long Island itself has so many cool charities out there that need support and are doing great things.”
 Kim said he wants the program to grow to the point where Reliance Star could hold events and seminars for nonprofits to inform the community on the work they do and to honor businesses for their positive impact.
He said his parents were small-business owners, so he understands the struggles facing small businesses every day.
Kim said the company is excited to “be in a position to help small businesses grow” and build awareness for nonprofits and charities that are “great causes that need support.”
He also said that he wants the program to be a way of showing his children that it is important to work hard “but at the same time you have to give back to the community.”
“Business is business, but supporting local nonprofits, I think, is pretty cool,” Kim said.

By Joe Nikic

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