The short story in less than 50 words: Three colleagues and friends wanting to build a business together; a great idea to turn an industry on its ear; a way to build social responsibility into a sustainable business model; and a desire to celebrate the lives of two amazing educators whose lives were cut short.
The three friends are Denise Senter, Don Paris and David McKay. The industry to be disrupted was Credit Card Processing, by partnering with non-profits for introductions into their business supporters and communities rather than employing an army of sale reps knocking on doors. Social responsibility comes from those businesses that join the program knowing that every month, 25% of our proceeds on all transactions they process are donated in their name to the education non-profit of their choice.
Why education? That’s where the story takes a dark turn. It begins on September 11, 2001, when Jim and Mary Trentini were on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center. Jim and Mary were life-long educators, the type of people who knew every kid in their schools by name. And helped them out at every turn, whether they needed structure, a smile or friendly ear, lunch money, or a couch to sleep on. Jim and Mary were also Don’s wife’s parents. Don and his family did what many families did after 9/11: took some time to heal, and then went into the fundraising business in order to create a lasting memorial to two amazing people. But like a lot of fundraising efforts, they started strong, but saw donor and volunteer fatigue over the years sap the effectiveness of their mission.
Thus was born the School Spirit Pays model of creating passive, ongoing fundraising built on the everyday activities of businesses in a community. We don’t obsolete event-based fundraising (in fact, we’re happy to work your golf tournament if you’d like), nor charitable giving programs.
But we do create a monthly, recurring revenue program that scales up to be as big and profitable as each educational non-profit would like. Businesses are going to pay to process credit cards anyway, so why not make sure that a portion of those fees goes to benefit their community? And by ensuring we match their existing rates to the penny, we make joining the program an easy, no-cost decision. Education wins, communities win. All in all, exactly what we hoped to accomplish when we sat down and decided to create School Spirit Pays.
School Spirit Pays is headquartered in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area, with regional offices throughout the US.