As our annual December ‘season of giving’ comes to a close, the rush is on to tally up the amount of donations made to U.S. non-profits. The promise of year-end tax deductions, the holiday spirit and the desire to help others fuels over 31% of all U.S. charitable donations in that one month.
By Kelly Hlavinka, CLMP
In 2017, you could say it has been a full year of giving. U.S. citizens have witnessed an incredible number of disasters this year: the horrendous Hurricane Harvey floods in Houston, the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida and, most recently, the unprecedented wildfires throughout Southern California. Such defining events reshape the way people give -- so consumers are opening their wallets even wider to give to the relief efforts.
In fact, U.S. citizens are seeking to amplify their cash donations by donating their rewards points from the average of 14 programs they actively participate in. And, companies that help harness that urgent desire to help are linking their business philanthropy to their customers’ in a way that a simple, sweeping corporate donation would not. Whether it is donating Hilton HHonors points to the American Red Cross or donating American Express Membership Rewards points to Save the Children, these giving options provide an additional outlet for their members’ compassion and generosity.
In an international contrast, citizens in India recently became able to donate their rewards points to support livelihood, education, water & sanitation non-profit programs from one central portal. It is called Points for People (pointsforpeople.org), an initiative of Tata Trusts. Tata Trusts – one of India’s oldest and largest philanthropic organizations – has focused on issues related to the enrichment of marginalized and poor communities in rural India for almost a century, supporting programs targeted at bettering quality of life, health and education. Points for People launched on Sept 27th, 2017 with the objective of getting loyalty program members to donate their unredeemed loyalty points to projects/communities run by Tata Trusts so that they, too, can play an active role in effecting change towards a better India.
The benefits to companies that allow customers to gift their rewards points to charities and social development activities in India go beyond the good deed ‘halo’ effect. Indeed, it can provide an insightful window into what causes and interests any individual finds most compelling. Those insights can help brands connect with their best customers in a more meaningful and engaging way.
India’s need for kind-hearted philanthropy is never-ending. This year’s floods in North East India, the on-going famine in Central India and the foundational need to fuel much-needed social development activities present a demand to assist many more people than any of the U.S. disasters this year. So, why not harness the power of the rewards points you have earned to help those in need? Yes, rewarding yourself is wonderful but you may find that using your points to help others is the most rewarding option of all.
About the author: Kelly Hlavinka is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP). She is also a strategic advisor to India-based, Strategic Caravan (strategiccaravan.com/points-for-people/) and a loyalty consultant that helps retail, hospitality and financial service companies craft the most effective loyalty programs. Contact Kelly via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/kellyhlavinka.