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How credit-card link finances `Working Assets' projects

To fund a potpourri of social causes, Working Assets (800-522-7759) started out with a money-market fund and a single credit card that it offered to supporters. Now, in partnership with the National Network of Women's Funds, the group is backing a second credit card: the ``Working Assets Women's Card.''

At the normal nickel a use donation rate, this card will channel funds only to organizations which ``better the lives of women and children,'' says Laurie Scher, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based firm.

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For instance, funds will go to finance shelters for battered women and rape crisis centers.

The card's purpose is also to combat credit discrimination against women. Although application standards will be no different from other credit cards, Ms. Scher says the group will be counseling women on how to apply and will send a regular newsletter to Working Assets cardholders.

The rates and fees for the card will be 16.5 percent. Each card will have a 25-day grace period and a $20 annual fee (which has been waived until April 1988).

Working Assets is also branching into the travel business.

Two percent of every hotel room, auto rental, or airline ticket bought through the group's new travel service will go into the pool of social causes it supports.

In partnership with a California travel agency, ``we guarantee the lowest rates or we will refund customers the difference if a lower rate is found,'' says Scher.

Travel service customers are not required to be Working Asset cardholders.

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Working Assets is also in the planning stage of a group health insurance plan for cardholders.

Last year, some 13,000 cardholders donated $32,000 to 16 different peace, human rights, hunger, and environmental groups.

These include the US Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Greenpeace USA, Oxfam America, Amnesty International USA, the Native American Rights Fund, and the Africa Fund.

So far this year, Working Assets has collected more than $25,000 from some 25,000 cardholders. And it plans to move toward a more ``democratic'' distribution of funds collected from the credit-card operation, says Scher.

This year, cardholders will nominate social groups to support. But the final selection will still be made by the Working Assets board of directors. The cardholders will be able to vote on the allocation of funds.

``Eventually, cardholders will have the final say on which organizations will be suppported,'' says Scher.

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