In February last year I wrote a blog piece about the huge amount of unredeemed loyalty points and rewards people are sitting on that might never get spent (estimated then by Money Mail to be worth £4bn) and how those points could be used for good causes. Since then the impact of the economic downturn is really starting to bite for many UK charities and community projects, and whilst the charity I chair, Trees for Cities, is continuing to weather the storm relatively well, these are difficult times for the voluntary sector. Utilising those £4bn worth of unspent rewards and loyalty points would make a significant difference – to put this in context, total donations made by the UK public to charity was £10.6bn in 2009 according to the ‘UK Giving 2010’ report published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
At Green Rewards we are working to put this into practice and our new incentive scheme for households, Local Green Points, through which households in participating municipalities will be able to earn our Green Points for taking positive environmental steps like reducing their waste and recycling more, will encourage people to donate their points to local community projects. With Envirocomms, our partner in Local Green Points, we’ve been conducting research to find out if households want to use their points for the benefit of their community and it is very exciting for me that 41% of people surveyed said they would like to spend their points on a mix of personal and community rewards, 34% totally on community rewards and only 24% on personal rewards. We already offer a number of charity redemption options in our programme from annual membership to Coral Cay Conservation to supporting a new inner city community garden, and I am hopeful that as our new Local Green Points scheme gains in momentum we will be able to help empower communities and raise some much-needed funding for local projects.
Great to see such high levels of (theoretical!) altruism in people's view of the benefits of points. If only a small proportion translates into community/charity benefit when recycling incentive schemes get off the ground properly, it will has the potential to be a huge force for good.
I think the idea of using unspent points for better is a fantastic idea, I can't quite see people like Tesco and Nectar giving up the millions they make from our unspent points.... however even a small percentage could make a real difference it seems. If this kind of thing was more in the public eye then big companies would hopefully see it as an important box to tick! More corporate politics but with a great result for local charities hopefully. Maybe they could give some of those points back to the consumers too! Ha ha!
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