Save The Bay Joins With MBNA

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MBNA next week will launch a new affinity credit card program for members and supporters of Save The Bay, Providence, RI.

The program is replacing a former one that Save The Bay started back in 1995 with the Citizens Financial Group, Providence. MBNA recently purchased the Citizens Financial Group's credit card portfolio, and because of the success of the first program, Save The Bay decided to continue with an MBNA-sponsored card.

Save The Bay is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help protect and preserve the Narragansett Bay and the surrounding waterways and rivers that flow into it. The areas cover portions of Rhode Island and reach to the southeastern Massachusetts.

According to Save The Bay spokeswoman Eve Formisano, the last program, which had several hundred members, helped generate thousands of dollars annually in donations.

"It gives us the opportunity to further our name recognition in the places our members will use the card," she said. "This type of cause marketing is beneficial to both the nonprofit organization and the for-profit entity in that it helps them to develop a relationship where they both share a mutual gain. It is a good way for us to extend the opportunity to our donors and friends to help make a difference for our cause."

To promote the program, MBNA will drop a 10,000-piece mailing at the end of March to Save The Bay's members living in the Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

"[MBNA] will initially be targeting our member file with a mail piece and then contacting them again with a telephone call," she said. "We [Save The Bay] will be conducting our own direct mail campaign in the future. We haven't worked out any details about that yet because we are going to focus on the MBNA campaign for now."

Information about the program will be posted on the organization's Web site ( and will appear in its newsletter. Formisano said Save The Bay also will make applications available at numerous festivals and fairs it expects to attend this year.

Other marketing options have yet to be finalized.

Save The Bay has nearly 20,000 members. "Our member and donor base is made up of private citizens, businesses, community groups, school groups and fishermen," she said. "A lot of our members live in Rhode Island and the area surrounding the bay, but a number of them don't. There are members who only vacation here during the summer or people who once lived here and later moved but still support the organization."

MBNA is involved in a number of other affinity programs and has close to 1.5 million customers taking part. Other special interest organizations include Ducks Unlimited, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society.

Peter Frank, MBNA director of media relations, would not disclose whether MBNA planned to promote the card to MBNA cardholders living in the area who are not members of Save The Bay.
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