THIS VETERAN BUSINESSMAN AND PHILANTHROPIST IS NOW UNITING COMPANIES, CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS, AND CONSUMERS FOR THE GREATER GOOD
BY AMANDA McCOY
In early 2017, entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Benson began the initial research for B-Causes, a cause-focused discount buyers’ club headquartered in the Garden State. An accomplished businessman, the Manasquan resident’s resume includes creating a booming online marketing business and taking a company public.
But it wasn’t profits driving this newest venture; his vision was to craft a symbiotic system that would equally benefit companies, charitable organizations, and consumers. For Benson, it wasn’t merely a smart financial enterprise, but a calling that is a lifetime in the making.
Born with glaucoma, Benson underwent several operations as a child and was the youngest baby in the world to have glaucoma surgery in the early 1960s.
Living his entire life with the potential threat of losing his vision, he launched a non-profit organization in 2014 with a mission to create unforgettable life experiences for people battling blindness. The Visual Experience Foundation received national media attention. It did not, however, generate enough funds to support his cause.
“Most non-profits are people that were called to do good work,” explained Benson. “They want to improve someone’s life, and they never think about websites and all the competition. They wind up getting so pulled into raising funds and settling for what work they can do.”
The numbers agree. According to data from GuideStar, there are more than 1.5 million registered non-profit organizations in the U.S., yet only about eight percent of them have raised more than one million dollars for their cause. Consumer interest in supporting meaningful causes is on the rise, however (a 2017 case study from Cone Communications found that 87 percent of Americans will purchase a product because a company supports an issue they care about), but for businesses, it simply isn’t possible to support each cause that their customers are interested in helping. Benson set out to change that.
Tapping into his extensive experience, he created a platform for B-Causes that would provide immediate value for each of the three groups involved: businesses interested in cause marketing; non-profit organizations needing to raise funds; and consumers interested in saving money
while shopping with purpose.
“We built an ecosystem of consumers, businesses, and charities to come together under one umbrella. The consumer saves, and at the same time the business receives tremendous cause marketing, and is able to help all causes. It raises money for the initiatives that the consumers care about.”
The owner described how the program works; consumers sign up for a free membership and choose from a list of participating charities, and they then are given access to deals and discounts from local and national businesses. Once they purchase a deal, such as a discounted dinner for two or sale on a product or service, a portion of each sale—as much as 80 percent—goes to the charity of their choice.
“We leave it up to the business owner to set his or her offer in real time daily,” Benson further explained. “What we ask is that there is always some kind of savings.”
As for the charities, there is no cost or barrier of entry to join. It’s been a year since the platform went live, and B-Causes’ network has grown to more than 100 non-profits.
“I lived and went backward for four years trying to build a non-profit,” he added. “I know what their problems are. I realized that what I could not do myself, we could do together. And we’re just getting started.”
732.554.1200 / B-causes.com