If you’re like most members of a loyalty rewards program, you probably know how best to earn points or miles and redeem them for things and experiences that matter to you. But did you know that it’s also easy to be a force of good in the world, by supporting programs and companies that give back to the community?
One way Canadians have been doing this is by donating some of their Aeroplan Miles to their community. Since 2006, Aeroplan members have donated close to 700 million miles through the Aeroplan member donation program to support Canadian-based initiatives that help improve lives and assist communities, at home and around the world.
More than 300 organizations, charities and causes that members care about have benefited from this program. One of these is War Child, which uses donated miles to help provide access to education, opportunities and justice for children in war zones like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. Another is the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which make additional field visits with donated Aeroplan Miles so they can ensure the aid they provide is delivered effectively to the people who need it most.
Aeroplan members can donate miles to more than 300 organizations in less than two minutes, and in some cases set up an automatic donation every time they earn. Members can also band together to use donated miles to help families or individuals in need of serious medical help or some other emergency assistance.
Aimia, the data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company behind the Aeroplan program, covers all administrative costs so that these donations go right to the intended recipients.
Aeroplan also provides opportunities for members to invest some of their earned miles towards carbon offsets. The money is invested in community projects that aim to offset some of the impact of green house gas emissions. In Uganda, for example, Aeroplan members have supported a project that provides more-efficient cookstoves to some of the 95 per cent of Ugandans who rely on wood as fuel for cooking and boiling water. Since 2008, offsets from Aeroplan members and Aimia have subsidized nearly 29,000 cookstoves for families in Uganda, reducing the amount of fuel needed to prepare a meal and improving indoor air quality.
In 2016, Aeroplan members invested 27 million of their earned miles in carbon offset programs such as the one in Uganda, bringing the total of miles donated in this way to 245 million since 2008.
One of Aimia’s direct contributions to the communities where it operates is by volunteering its unique skills and insights. Through Aimia’s Data Philanthropy, teams of analytics professionals have lent their expertise to help more than 50 non-profit organizations since 2012 to find actionable insights from their data. Armed with this additional information, these non-profits can increase their success at securing funding and improve the outcomes for their beneficiaries.
For example, volunteers helped Prostate Cancer Canada to find data insights to better target the charity’s marketing campaign for its Rock the Road Raffle, leading to a 35-per-cent increase in raffle ticket sales in 2016 compared to 2015.
The success of this program has demonstrated the huge benefits that data analytics can bring to non-profits and communities. To help create a larger pool of talent for charities to tap into, Aimia has teamed up with the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO) in Montreal to create an academic hub in data philanthropy that will instill the spirit of pro bono giving in the next generation of data analysts.
Earn, Redeem, Do Good
Loyalty rewards programs clearly mean a lot to their members, who develop many different strategies to earn and redeem their miles for things that matter most to them. For a growing number of members who want to help their community, miles have also become a way to be a force for good.