by Eric Stearley
In November, Wabash native Jessica Weiss will be making big waves in the world of crowdfunding and prepaid cards with the release of the WeCare Card, a project she’s been working on for more than three years. The card will, for the first time, combine the two industries, allowing for donation-based crowdfunding campaigns to upload money raised directly to a prepaid Mastercard product.
Jessica, who worked as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit for nearly 20 years, has long seen the struggles many families have as they try to balance urgent medical needs with everyday life. Primary among these struggles is, all too often, financial hardship. These struggles hit home when Jessica’s husband, Brad, was diagnosed with a brain aneurism in 2009.
“When word got out that Brad was sick, a lot of the community, family, friends, churches rallied, and we got all kinds of gift cards, greeting cards, home-cooked meals,” Jessica recalled. “I mean, the love and support from Wabash was amazing.”
In the midst of this outpouring of support, Jessica recognized a central problem that many people in similar situations face. Her family was very grateful for help in any form, but often, the gifts could have been more useful in a different form. As was the case with the Weiss family, extended hospital stays and a series of doctor visits can make travel and lodging as difficult for a family to pay for as the health insurance deductable itself. Jessica used the example of restaurant gift cards to explain the limitations that many run into.
“Brad had his surgery at Cleveland Clinic Hospital,” said Jessica. “What if I really need money for my hotel or gas or those things? So that’s kind of how the WeCare Card was born and how I came up with the idea.”
Jessica realized that there was a huge need for a more versatile “gift card.” At the same time, she recognized the growing success of crowdfunding, a (usually) internet-based means of financing start-up companies, projects, products, and most important to Jessica, causes. As platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo found success raising money for business and art endeavors, platforms like GoFundMe and YouCaring grew as donation-based models for helping people in times of need. Through social media, donors could connect with causes and help people through difficult times.
What these models accomplish in raising much-needed monetary support, they often lacked in convenience for the recipient. Sometimes, a campaign would have to be finished or a goal achieved before the money was received. Other times, donations were deposited into a personal bank account, making them hard to distinguish from other money, such as regular income. Perhaps most importantly, many crowdfunding platforms lacked a reliable verification process, causing some to question the legitimacy of campaigns.
“People see a link and they feel compelled to donate to a campaign,” said Chief Marketing Officer for WeCare Card Katharine Mobley. “Well, typically, unless you know that person, you really don’t know what you’re donating to. Being tied to a card, our verification process is much more in depth. It mitigates fraud at a whole new level that no one else is doing in the industry.”
Mobley took the job as WeCare Card CMO in January of this year. After spending much of her career marketing national brands such as Dodge, Bank of America, Arby’s, Vitamin Water, and Coca-Cola, she received a call from Jessica in late 2013 regarding the WeCare Card.