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Is your affinity program still benefiting your organization or non-profit?

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Park University Affinity Card (CardPartner from UMB)RFPs, grant proposals, annual fundraiser dinners, donation drives. If you work for a non-profit or professional association, you’re always searching for new, creative ways to raise funds. Affinity credit card programs are one way to do this by helping to raise awareness and donations with each new account.


For organizations big or small, here are five tips to help begin, migrate or simply reevaluate affinity programs and financial partners.

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Evaluate the rewards program

Some affinity programs pay partnering organizations for new accounts, give them a percentage of monthly charge volume and/or cut them a percentage off balance transfers. Some even reward supporters and members with points, miles or cash back.

But some rewards programs may not actually benefit the organization or the cardholder. Some issuers offer rich rewards to the group, but fund the program through the cardholders (higher rates and pricing). And some rewards have a short shelf life, with points that expire in a year.

Compare affinity programs to learn what the rewards are, who gets them, and most importantly, who pays for them.

Know the terms

Affinity card issuers see value in reaching a particular customer base, but they also have to make money on affinity card programs. Understand where that revenue is coming from—especially if it’s coming from your supporters.

Ask these questions:

  • What are the rates and fees?
  • Does the lender charge cardholders extra for personalization?
  • Are there hidden charges that lessen the value for your organization and/or its supporters?

Consider the marketing support

Traditionally, affinity card issuers have controlled the marketing, using direct mail as their primary, if not only, tool to communicate about the affinity program. With social media, the toolkit has expanded and organizations are gaining control and customization of how they market to supporters and members.

Ask these questions:

  • Does the issuer provide tools to support marketing efforts beyond direct mail?
  • Do you have to wait for bank approval of marketing messages or can you insert pre-approved copy in a newsletter or share it on social media?
  • Does the program give your non-profit the flexibility to send messages on your own timeline?

Control of your supporter list

Many lenders will ask you for direct access to your organization’s supporters and for the control over the marketing messages and timing. They do this so they can cross-market other financial products and services when they issue your affinity card. You’ll have to decide whether you want to give up that control.

Check references and reputation

When entering an affinity program, issuers not only get access to your organization’s database—they also get an implied endorsement.

Choose a banking partner carefully. Talk with current affinity partners. Weigh the bank’s reputation among other non-profits. Check their asset quality, capital adequacy, profitability and loan growth; all factors that indicate the bank’s strength, stability and economic responsibility. Based on your research, select a bank that shares your values and will become a long-term partner.


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The Five Cs of Credit

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Are you an entrepreneur looking to start up a new boutique or local restaurant? Or are you an owner of an established firm seeking to expand or upgrade? Either way, securing financing for your business is sometimes an overwhelming process.

UMB has a long history of being prudent in our lending. We don’t want to put our customers, or ourselves, at risk, so we follow a sound underwriting process to ensure we are making the best decision for everyone involved.

Here are some common guidelines we use when it comes to the loan process.

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This is the overall impression you make on the banker. Business experience and educational background will be evaluated, along with references and past experience.

Word of Advice: You need a business plan. Be open and honest – you should provide the most accurate and objective information about the business and industry landscape.


You will need to detail exactly how you plan to repay the loan. Business cash flow, repayment timing and likelihood of repayment will be considered, as will payment history on your current credit. Financial partners need to have confidence that your business will generate enough cash to operate and sustain the company.

Word of Advice: Prepare to have money set aside for a down payment.  Don’t come to the table empty-handed.


This is the money you have individually invested in the business and is used to assess your risk should the venture not succeed. It’s important for you to demonstrate a personal financial commitment before seeking third-party funding.

Word of Advice: Financial institutions generally require that at least one-third to one-half of the business be funded with your money.


This is where assets you own are pledged to the lender as a secondary source of repayment in case the loan is not repaid. You also may be required to sign a guarantee with the promise to repay the loan if you cannot repay it with the profits from the business.

Word of Advice: Most banks will expect the collateral assessment to be greater than the loan amount.


This is the outlined plan for the loan, with details on how it will be used and for what purposes. Current economic and business conditions for all industries, as well as your business’ specific industry, will also be evaluated.

Word of Advice: Have a strong knowledge of industry trends, both nationally and in the local market. Timing can be critical.

You should pick a financial lender that will be your partner, not just your bank. After that, securing a loan to start or grow a business should be a smooth process and you’ll be well on your way to fulfilling your dream!

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