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In Focus
NAME:Joe Donato
COMPANY:InComm InCentives
POSITION:General Manager
Offering businesses a way to reward and incentivize their employees, InComm InCentives is redefining company cultures across the globe, spearheaded by General Manager Joe Donato.

There’s nothing quite as gratifying as a bit of appreciation. Especially when it comes in the form of something tangible, something you can actually use and enjoy. This is the premise behind InComm InCentives: a clever solution that helps employers reward and recognize their employees.

With a vast range of options within its portfolio, spanning more than 1,000 gift card brands, the Apple Rewards Store and over 6,000 merchandise options, InComm InCentives can tailor rewards to suit each client: from monetary incentives in the form of digital and physical gift cards, to personalized award certificates, merchandise, experiences and travel.

The company is also the exclusive program manager and distributor for all American Express prepaid products in the United States and Canada.

“These are products that can really help people accomplish their core business goals.”

It’s not only B2B solutions that InComm InCentives offer, either – the company also boasts customer appreciation reward programs to increase loyalty and retention.

“We have a lot of consumer research that shows the growing consumer sentiment around prepaid products and gift cards continues to be extremely strong, not just as a preferred gift for the recipient, but as a comfortable gift for the giver, because they know the person who receives one will be able to pick out exactly what they want,” General Manager Joe Donato tells The CEO Magazine. 

“When you talk about employee rewards and recognition, when you talk about acquiring customers – which can be a challenge given macroeconomic environments – these products have evolved to become an attractive and cost-effective tool to address those different needs,” he continues.

“We’re really well-placed in that, even as consumer sentiment ebbs and flows, we’re able to adapt to those situations and serve different segments of the market.”

Innovation at the Center

As part of the InComm Payments family, which has over 32 years’ experience in the fintech space and nearly 2,500 employees in over 40 countries, InComm InCentives has been drawing on this unrivaled expertise for the past 12 years to set the industry benchmark.

“I want leaders to understand how versatile and cost-effective these products can be when speaking to their customers or employees, whether that’s retaining customers, acquiring new customers or appeasing a customer who had a less than desired experience,” Donato says. “These are products that can really help people accomplish their core business goals.”

When it comes to how InComm InCentives approaches innovation, Donato enthuses that it is truly a core value for the company, and something that is discussed on a daily basis.

“Innovation starts with a customer-centric approach and listening to customers and having space to understand what their problems are,” he says.

“Of course, we can’t solve everyone’s problems, but by listening we can approach the intersection between InComm’s technology, people’s expertise and the problems our customers are facing.”

“InComm has been a strategic partner for over two decades and together we’ve focused on enhancing the prepaid industry. With its leadership and guidance, we have become FSC certified, established a fulfillment center, and made numerous investments to better support both InComm and the market. Having a partner like InComm has been invaluable to our success.” – Rob Harris, CEO, Diamond Graphics


Ultimately, Donato says, this leads the company in directions that it wouldn’t perhaps have anticipated, but that may be immensely valuable.

In an effort to further pursue innovation, InComm InCentives collaborates with Go Studio, a specialized innovation center within InComm Payments.

“We have dedicated full-time employees at the center, but other employees can also volunteer to work on specific projects or do a stint there,” he explains.

Having a Choice

In turn, by continually striving to be at the forefront of innovation, InComm InCentives also ensures a focus on sustainability.

“Our focus on digital is twofold,” Donato says. “We want to give choice to the companies that we work with and the best products that they think are going to speak loudest to their customers and their employees, no matter what they’re trying to accomplish.

“But really our mantra is all about choice. And when consumers are given the choice, they will over time gravitate toward digital. We saw a 10 percent increase last year in the number of digital cards that we issued, and over 70 percent of our overall issuance at InComm InCentives is digital.”

“Our mantra is all about choice.”

And with 90 percent of closed-loop gift cards purchased annually from its contracted printers now made out of paper, the company is truly taking tangible steps to support sustainability.

“That’s a dramatic change from what it was years ago,” Donato says. “That takes a lot of innovation and work investment from the card printers. It’s not an easy switch from plastics to paper, but it’s been amazing, and shows the real transformation of the industry.”

In addition, the company offers paper-based giftable packaging for cards that is made from sustainably sourced timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

In order to guarantee that InComm InCentives is evolving into an ever more sustainable version of itself, having trusted suppliers who are on the same page is essential. Printing company Diamond Graphics have partnered with InComm Payments for over two decades, and in 2023 they worked together to initiate the switch to FSC-certified paper.

“We work closely with InComm to continuously identify how best to serve our market and deliver innovation and creativity. At the heart of our collaboration is trust, which allows us to embark on unique projects, and learn and succeed together.” – Peggy O’Leary, Chief Development and Digital Officer, CPI


“We do really have an outstanding story about the length of some of these key partnerships for 10, 20 or more years,” Donato enthuses. He adds that demonstrating their shared values in good times and in bad is a key element of their successful relationship.

Donato emphasizes that robust partnerships are also about reacting to problems and working towards mutual goals.

“We look to understand our customers’ goals, making sure there is alignment and being there when they need us,” he says.

Another highly valued supplier of nearly 20 years, CPI is one of InComm Payments’ card production partners, with whom it has worked together on open-loop gift cards, refining processes to innovate a print-on-demand system for card fulfillment, which reduces waste and prevents overproduction.

Leading by Example

Having been part of the InComm family since 2013, Donato was promoted to Vice President, Account Management and Operations for Digital Solutions in 2015, where he remained until stepping into his current position of General Manager for InComm InCentives in May 2021.

By employing a ‘lead by example’ mentality at all times, he hopes to inspire and demonstrate to his team, as well as the broader company, just how committed he is to their goals as a business, as well as their own career development, advancement and individual wellbeing.

“For me, there’s always a strong trickle-down effect when people see how passionate a leader is about the business as well as the people,” Donato continues. “That creates an environment beyond the daily work, one that bears fruit year after year.”

“I love being part of a growth company where there are always new challenges.”

He adds that it’s even more important to be a stable and encouraging leader when challenges inevitably arise.

“It’s about how you act and react when things are not going well; how you rally the team, create a culture of collaboration and focus on resolving issues,” he says.

As a result, Donato has successfully fostered a workplace environment that sees employees happy, productive and appreciated.

“The people that I work with show an extraordinary dedication to each other, to the team, to InComm and to our customers. There’s a shared sense that we rely on each other and succeed together and that’s what keeps me going.

“I love being part of a growth company where there are always new challenges. We always want to hit new milestones and goals – and that’s what I find motivating in a business.”

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