Local gift cards are revolutionizing cities and towns across the U.S. by providing an easy way for community members to shop locally. Yiftee, the leading company in local gift cards, works with over 500 Chambers, Cities, Main Streets, Downtown Associations, Visitors Offices and other entities to launch local gift card programs and help keep local dollars local. Yiftee’s innovative Community Card program provides custom branded, closed loop gift cards that can only be redeemed at participating businesses. In 2022, 8,500 businesses benefited from tens of millions of dollars kept local with Yiftee. In this post, we’ll provide a rundown of how local gift cards work and why they’re impactful, along with tips for implementing your own local gift card program.
Why Support Local Businesses?
Before we dive into what local gift cards can do for your city or town, let’s talk about why they’re important. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S. In fact, the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses and supporting them can have a tremendous impact on local economies.
Local gift card programs encourage community members to shop locally. They drive foot traffic to downtowns and Main Streets and put small businesses in the forefront. This is important because when funds are spent locally, they stay local- for $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community while only $43 stay in the community when you spend $100 at a national chain. Small businesses also help create jobs and have been known to play a significant role in supporting local charities and causes. Finally, local businesses make our towns and cities unique and attract tourists and visitors.
Yiftee makes supporting small businesses easy with the Community Card program- a local gift card program that allows community organizers to sell gift cards for local businesses to individuals and companies.
Additionally, Community Cards bring millions of dollars in new revenue to small businesses that they are not getting today from corporate and institutional buyers. A large percentage of gift cards in the U.S. are purchased by companies, non-profits, hospitals, schools and governments for employee reward and recognition programs, client appreciation and holiday gifts. This represents billions of dollars going to national brands and online merchants. Yiftee's Community Card is a popular substitute - allowing institutional buyers to appreciate employees and clients while also supporting their local communities. While a corporate buyer may not purchase gift cards for an individual nail salon, coffee shop or pizza place, they do purchase Community Cards because recipients will be able to choose where to use them.
How can a local gift card program boost your local economy?
Chambers of Commerce, Main Streets and Downtown Associations are organizing shop local programs to drive sales to their small businesses and promote them long term. Many of them have turned to Yiftee. Yiftee provides community organizers a program focused on keeping local dollars local, which creates measurable revenue for local businesses. Yiftee’s Community Card Program makes it easy for community members – consumers, local government, employers, professionals, and others – to spend their money at local shops and restaurants instead of at large national chains. These local Community Card programs sustainably enable buyers to funnel dollars to their local businesses, instead of leaving the community via ecommerce and national brand gift cards.
About Yiftee Community Cards
A Community Card is a digital gift card, branded for a city, town, neighborhood or marketplace. It can be spent at many businesses that the program organizer has invited to participate. Community Cards give people an easy way to support the local businesses that make their communities unique. Branded for the community, these cards have many uses from personal to corporate. Local companies can give cards to schools to celebrate their teachers, hospitals to appreciate essential workers, realtors to welcome new homeowners, parents to thank coaches/babysitters/etc. and friends for birthdays and holidays. Not only is the recipient excited to use their Community Card, but the giver feels good for supporting the community. With potentially hundreds of choices for how to spend the card, multi-brand Community Cards are more versatile and valuable to buyers than any single-brand card.
Yiftee Community Cards are free for participating businesses and for community organizers to set up and launch. They work like prepaid Mastercards and participating businesses just have to key in the cards’ 16 digit code into their POS systems to redeem. There is no additional equipment or software required.
Closed Loop Gift Cards Vs. Open Loop Gift Cards
While open loop gift cards can be used anywhere, closed loop gift cards, like Yiftee’ Community Cards, can only be used at a specific business or a group of businesses. Yiftee uses innovative technology so that your Community Card can’t be redeemed anywhere except your local businesses. Participating businesses run “Activation Cards'' to opt into their local Community Card program. This creates a web of local businesses that can accept the gift card, excluding any businesses that haven’t run “Activation Cards.”
Community Cards- How Do Small Businesses Benefit?
A survey conducted in March 2021 showed that 51% of card holders used Community Cards to shop or dine at new places. An incredible 92% of card buyers surveyed said they preferred to support their local businesses with a Community Card vs. buying national brand gift cards. Community Card programs not only spark an influx of revenue in the short-term, but they also provide businesses with a strong, loyal customer base for the future.
Community Card Success Stories
The City of Warrick, IN, launched their Community Card, Warrick Bucks, in November 2022. With $500,000 in ARPA Funds they sponsored a Buy One Get One promotion where customers purchasing Warrick Bucks Community Cards got free matching bonus cards as rewards for supporting local businesses. These sponsorship funds were doubled by the consumer purchases, generating over $1,000,000 in business for 76 of the town's local merchants who opted-in to the program. As of February 2023, people have redeemed $650,000 plus additional "overspend" on the cards. "This program has been amazing! I especially value the new customers and additional foot traffic in my store - it's a win-win-win for the City, its residents and the local business owners!," said XYZ business owner, business name.
In 2022 Kent State University purchased $82,000 in Kent Cards, sponsored by the Kent Main Street Association, for over 3,000 university employees. The program was such a hit that this year, Kent State purchased an additional $10,000 in Community Cards to give to prospective students attending campus tours.
Through the "Farmers Market Dollar Program," the Town of Riverdale Park is helping those in need by awarding them with $100 eGift Cards once a month to be used exclusively at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market. This program was created as a part of their larger “Partners in Economic Recovery Program.” Launched in Spring 2020, the program has been running successfully ever since, benefiting 225 households and 15 farmers, and injecting more than $270,000 into the local economy. "Using Yiftee for this program vastly simplified its administration for the City as well as the recipients and farmers. No more paper certificates that get lost in the mail, or manual reimbursements to the farmers for purchases. It's all digital and automated, buying us more time for other City programs," said Ryan Chelton, Title, City.
Yiftee Community Cards vs Other Gift Card Companies
As local gift cards have gotten more popular in the U.S. many gift card companies have started offering community-wide gift card programs. So, why is Yiftee your best option? Yiftee has been around since 2012 and was the first eGift Card company to launch a Community Card program. They are currently the leaders in the local gifting field, with over 500 Community Cards across the U.S. Unlike other gift card programs, Yiftee’s Community Cards are free to set up and launch and they offer the ability to restrict what businesses can accept your local gift card.
Yiftee also provides excellent customer service as well as an extensive reporting tool that allows organizations to track gift cards being sold and redeemed. This tool also generates data on gift card redemptions in stores, which allows organizers to provide tangible evidence of the value they deliver to their members and communities. Finally, the ability to run Buy One Get One promotions and other special deals helps organizations get their community excited about supporting local businesses.
Buy One Get One Promotions
Buy One Get One Promotions (BOGOs) engage the entire community in the Shop Local Movement. Yiftee offers the option for Community Card organizers to run Buy One Get One promotions where they can set whatever price points and deals they’d like to offer as well as limits on bonus gifts per purchaser. Community Card BOGOs have proven to be wildly successful with 2X ROI in the first month, 4X in 3 months and up to 8X ROI in a year. Many organizers use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and other federal grants to fund their BOGOs, but we’ve also seen private companies sponsor Buy One Get One promotions in exchange for marketing. Companies that fund BOGOs get to be the hometown heroes and local merchants get more customers in their doors- it’s a win win for everyone!
Yiftee & The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
Signed into law on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included funding for states and local governments to mitigate the negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Yiftee has worked with various cities using ARPA funds to launch local gift card programs that generate business for local merchants and benefit the entire community. Yiftee communities have used their ARPA funds to run Buy One Get One Promotions and to send Community Cards that can be used at local businesses to low income households. The results have been extraordinary, with hundreds of thousands of dollars being pumped into local economies across the U.S. Below is a quote from Cutler Bay, FL Mayor Tim Meerbott, regarding their Cutler Bay Cash Community Card program.
“We’re very pleased to launch the Cutler Bay Cash program. While the program has a very palpable and immediate positive effect — quickly introducing $150,000 into our local economy — there is also a long-term effect that will continue boosting our local small businesses.”
Steps to implement a Community Card Program
Hundreds of Chambers, Main Streets, Cities and Downtown Associations have chosen Yiftee as their partner in their shop local campaigns. Launching a Community Card is as easy as these 4 simple steps:
- Attend a demo. You can sign up here. After the demo, you’ll receive the Community Card agreement. Sign it and send it back to Yiftee and your portal will be set up.
- Customize the branding on your Community Card page.
- Recruit local businesses and get them to opt into the program.
- Launch your Community Card.
Learn More About Yiftee Community Cards
You’ll find all the information you need on Yiftee Community Cards here and if you’d like to get a more in-depth understanding of how they work, you can sign up for a demo. Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.