As we’ve worked to roll-out our first card programs over the last few years, we’re often asked about our competitors. And while there are other pre-paid card companies working with affinity groups, we don’t really view them as direct competition. Why? Well our mission has always been about helping nonprofit and philanthropic organizations create sustainable revenue sources. Unfortunately, there are more of these underfunded organizations than we could possibly help. So, we’ll be thrilled if one of our so-called competitors can help another nonprofit become more successful. Because in the end, it’s an extension of our own mission. That being said, there are important differences between GroundSwell and some of the other pre-paid card companies working in the industry today.

Long Term Plans

We recently ran across this post in the Delaware Business times about Prepaidian, a company that could rightfully be called a competitor. Much like GroundSwell, Prepaidian offers branded pre-paid debit card programs and has worked with local Delaware branches of the Boys and Girl’s Club and Goodwill as well as national organization like USA Volleyball. But as the Prepaidian founders were explaining their long-term business strategy, we ran across a quote that neatly illustrated how GroundSwell is different. Here’s what Jim Shanahan, CEO and founder of Prepaidian said about their company’s long-term strategy:

“Right now, we’re seeking investor capital in the $2 million to $5 million range over the next six months to get this business scaled and dramatically expanded, leveraging our ‘first-mover advantage,’ ” said Shahahan. “Virtually all of that will go into branding, marketing and business development.” 

“With that kind of investment, and the successful launch and expansion it will fuel, this company will be ready for acquisition by one of the big national or global financial services companies in three to five years at something in the $100 million range, perhaps more, according to what industry leaders tell us,” said Shanahan.

Did you catch that? Cut through all the startup speak about leveraging first-mover advantage and you’ll see that Shanahan plans to sell his company to a big national bank or global financial services company in three to five years. Prepaidian isn’t a long-term endeavor. It’s a short-term play that comes with a big personal payoff for its founders.

So What’s the Difference?

Of course, founders have every right to do what they please with their businesses. But this strategy does reveal a critical difference between his company and GroundSwell. For our organization, our stated social purpose isn’t a marketing gimmick or a method to realize a huge financial payoff. Instead, giving back is baked into our company’s DNA. Our founders started GroundSwell not as a means to get rich, but out of a sincere desire to change the world. And we’re doing that by leveraging the tools the big banks have used for years to pad their profits and enrich their shareholders. The same big banks that the Prepaidian founders hope will acquire them sometime in the very near future. Do you think a company owned by a big bank will be more concerned with their nonprofit partner’s success or its own bottom line? If history is any indication, the answer is already clear.

So as you continue to follow the growing pre-paid affinity marketing card industry, remember that not all companies are created equal. Some are using their giveback model as nothing more than a convenient marketing tool. While others – like GroundSwell – are deeply concerned with amplifying the good that’s already happening in the world by helping nonprofit and philanthropic organization be more successful in their work. And we plan on continuing our work for many years to come.

If you’d like more information about how our program works, or are a nonprofit interested in partnering with Groundswell, you can email us at or call us directly at (888) 601-0050.