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Motivating Charitable Choices in Loyalty Programs

Goals

To identify US brands/companies that allow customers to use their loyalty program rewards to make charitable choices/donations and to explore how these brands motivate their customers to choose to make charitable donations. This information will be used to help gain an understanding of the impact including charitable components can have on loyalty programs.

Early Findings

  • Most hotel, airline, and large credit card issuer brands with loyalty programs allow their customers to choose to make charitable choices by donating their points, miles, and cash back to charity with just a few clicks. The largest charities, including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Red Cross, and UNICEF as typically included in these programs, as are others such as Wounded Warriors and St. Jude's. More specialized charities like the ASPCA are also included in some loyalty programs.
  • Airlines that incorporate charitable choices in their loyalty programs include: American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Frontier.
  • Hotel Point Programs that incorporate charitable choices include: Hilton Honors, Choice Privileges, Starwood Preferred Guest/Marriot Bonvoy, and IHG Rewards Club.
  • Hilton Honors includes the following hotel brands: Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Conrad, Canopy, Curio, Double Tree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Home2 Suites, Homewood Suites, LXR, Tapestry Collection, Tru, and Waldorf Astoria.
  • Choice Priviliges includes the following hotel brands: Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Hotels, Mainstay Suites, Surburban, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn.
  • Starwood has merged with Marriot. As a result, over 30 hotels are part of Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott's loyalty program. These brands include: Starwood Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, Marriott, JW Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Westin, Springhill Suites, Resident Inn, St. Regis, and Ritz Carlton.
  • IHG Rewards Club includes the following brands: Holiday Inn Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and Hotel Indigo.
  • Major credit card issuer brand that incorporate charitable choices in their loyalty programs include: American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Discover.

WAYS BRANDS MOTIVATE CHARITABLE CHOICES
  • Brands motivate charitable choices in a variety of ways that range from commercial - resetting expiration dates on remaining miles, points, and cash back incentives, to altrustic - appealing to consumers desire to make a difference.
  • Loyalty programs usually consider charitable donations an account activity. That means that if someone was been saving miles, points, or cash back for a long period of time, waiting until they have enough for a big reward and they are in danger of them expiring, they can donate some of what they have to charity and the clock will be reset. This gives the customer both the opportunity to make a charitable choice and to continue saving towards their ultimate goal, allowing customers to benefit both a charity and themselves.
  • Younger people, especially millennials and teens, are often intrinsically motivated to give. In these cases, brands can often motivate them to both become loyal customers and make charitable choices through their loyalty programs simply by advertising the charities they work with. In 2018, a reported 63% of teens said they would be more to purchase from brands that support the same causes or charities they do.
  • A reported 37% of U.S. consumers show loyalty to brands that actively support causes they share, so including a range of charities or charities dedicated to making a difference can motivate participation to no only join loyalty programs but to make charitable choices through them.


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