When the end of the month arrives, sometimes the only type of service a customer receives is an invoice. But Fred Barnes, founder of Working Assets Long Distance Service, in San Francisco, looked at his company's billing statement as a way to elicit strong customer bonds in the fiercely-competitive telecommunications industry.

Working Assets gives customers an easy, painless, and regular way to donate to a variety of causes and charities. On each month's statement, customers can choose to round up the amount of the payment due and have every penny of the excess funds donated to the charity of the month. At the end of the year, customers receive statements detailing the total amount of their charitable contributions for the year, for their tax records.

"We choose causes that we believe will be popular with our customers, on the basis of their past record of giving," says Laura Scher, president of Working Assets. Scher reports that the company has grown to $100 million in revenues and has collected $3 million in donations for nonprofit organizations in 1997 alone.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing