From next month 5p of every pounds 100 spent on the bank's 700,000 Visa cards will go to national charities and local good causes.
The bank believes its 'Customers Who Care' scheme will raise more than pounds 500,000 in the next year. Each quarter cardholders will be asked to vote between four national charities. The bank will divide a pot of at least pounds 100,000; half will go to the charity with the most votes, a quarter to the second, 15 per cent to the third and 10 per cent to the bottom of the poll.
The first quarter charities the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers, Amnesty International and wildlife charity Tusk Force. Customers will also be invited to nominate a local cause such as a sports or community group or local charity for one of a hundred pounds 250 grants.
Terry Thomas, managing director, said: 'This is bringing the Co- op into the 21st century. It will appeal to those customers who want a good product and service but are more than happy to see some benefit from the money they have already spent going into someone else's pocket rather than their own in the form of Air Miles, car discounts and other perks.'
The Co-Op already runs affinity cards for some organisations and these will continue.
The bank announced an 81 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for the year ending January 1994. They rose by pounds 7.9m to pounds 17.8m.
Bad debt provisions were reduced by 10 per cent to pounds 38.4m. Mr Thomas said it was the first full year since the end of the recession.
'These results reflect our customers' improved trading conditions and increased confidence in the future.'
Customers in the North, West Midlands and South Wales fared best, with the South-east the worst region, excluding credit cards.
The bank is examining ways of starting to make provisions throughout the business cycle for further periods of recession. Mr Thomas said: 'There's going to be another recession. It's reasonable that we should start provisioning now, even though it gives you tax and ratio issues.'
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