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New initiative to generate funds for Ky. churches

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Is your church raising money for a planned building expansion, mission trip, or summer camp? A new initiative through the Kentucky Baptist Convention could soon help with that.

KBC iBennie has been created to allow members of Kentucky Baptist Convention churches to receive discounts and cash back from thousands of online retailers. The initiative will be piloted in about 125 churches beginning later this summer and could be offered statewide as soon as next year.

“This has the potential to generate some serious money for churches,” said KBC Business and Finance Team Leader Lowell Ashby. “We’ll know just how much after the initial group of churches give it a trial run. From all appearances, it will be win-win for church members and for their churches.”

Through KBC iBennie, Ashby said, members earn up to 20 percent cash back at more than 2,000 online retailers. They also can save an average of 20 percent on hotel bookings. And they can save up to 70 percent on prescription medications.

However, those discounts aren’t the only benefits to using iBennie.

KBC churches would also receive donations of 1 percent each time they book hotel rooms or purchase tickets to theaters, sporting events and concerts. They would receive 50 cents each time they purchase prescription medications. And they would receive a 10 percent donation based on the cash back earned by their members in purchases from a wide array of retailers, including Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Petco.

“In essence, the initiative saves money for shoppers while generating contributions for their churches,” Ashby said.

Membership in iBennie is free to members of participating churches. However, iBennie has partnered with The Entertainment Book to provide more than 365,000 coupons for an annual fee of $20, half of which iBennie will return to participating churches.

“We are a loyalty platform that provides incredible savings and discounts to the members while their purchases help support their favorite charities,” said Brad Renzelman, president of iBennie. “This is one of those initiatives that may sound too good to be true, but, in fact, it works as advertised. Other companies have been offering this service for years. What we’re doing is making it work for the benefit of Kentucky Baptists and their churches.”

Renzelman described it as a great stewardship opportunity where members can save money and churches can get additional charitable donations.

“We see it as a way for churches to have extra money for mission trips and ministries,” Ashby said.