How to Implement CSR into Your Loyalty Program

by | May 30, 2018 | Blog

If you’ve read our previous blog on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), you know that it’s something that we feel strongly about here at HMI.

There are a lot of opportunities that you can utilize when trying to implement CSR into a Group Travel program, but what about loyalty or sales incentive programs?

You may be thinking that, with a long-term program focusing on everyday activities, it might be hard to generate excitement about CSR.

Nonsense, I say!

In this blog, part two of a three-part CSR series, I’m going to show you some engaging ways you can incorporate CSR into your loyalty or sales incentive programs.

1) Charitable Points

One of the easiest and most effective implementations is allowing participants of your programs to donate their points to charitable causes.

We’ve seen this tactic most utilized during times of crisis and emergency, when participants come together to donate and help those in desperate need. This is perfectly exemplified by one of our clients, Books A Million (BAM).

BAM Logo

When hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, several of the associates working in BAM stores in the area were impacted.

The company immediately began sending financial aid to their associates through their Associate Assistance Fund and collecting donations for the Salvation Army that would go directly to the Houston community.

However, they began to hear from associates around the country asking how they could help.


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An idea emerged from a few field associates, who reached out to BAM management to ask if they could donate their points (called “marks” within the program) to the associates affected by the storm.

Hearing their suggestion, BAM sent out a company-wide notice to all employees saying that, if they so chose, participants of the BAM incentive program could donate some or all of their “marks” to those associates in need. Those who were not enrolled could sign up and do the same.

After the announcement, 53 BAM sales associates were gifted marks by their fellow co-workers. Using their newly gifted marks, the impacted associates could redeem from the awards catalog to help replace lost items.

Speaking on support for the victims of Harvey, BAM’s SVP of Store Operations and Loss Prevention, Misty Fontenot, said this, “At BAM, we call ourselves the ‘BAM Brigade’ and use this group as a platform to help social causes, literacy, and one another.

“When Hurricane Harvey devastated so much of an area in which we operate and impacted so many of our associates, several losing their cars and homes, we decided to do something to help give back to the community there and also to our associates. 

“Of course, we jumped at this.” Ms. Fontenot said about the idea of charitable mark donations. “It was so amazing to see associates taking care of one another and using their hard-earned rewards as part of it in such a selfless way.”

The option to donate points is the perfect way to not only help those in disaster situations but can also open avenues for your participants to get involved in the effort to help.

Consider not only opening this option up for disaster relief but as a standard offering as well. Some of your participants may have favorite organizations to donate to.

2) Charitable Gift Cards

Which leads us into our next option: supporting CSR in your program by offering charitable gift cards from your reward catalog.

This reward option gives participants the ability to turn their points into charitable donations in the form of gift cards. Once their points have been converted, charitable gift cards can be distributed to the charity of their choice.

There are several companies out there that offer such a product, but a particularly good one is CharityChoice.

When participants pick this option, they choose three charities from a list of over 1,000 different charities.

Once the points are converted, the charity gift card is shipped. All the participant has to do is follow the instructions on the back of the card to donate his/her funds.

It’s as simple as that, and extremely rewarding!

3) Sustainable/Environmentally-Friendly Products in the Reward Catalog

One more reward catalog option is to offer sustainable or environmentally-friendly products.

You can partner with companies that offer recycled products or companies that donate product proceeds to cleaning up the environment. These products can be easily integrated into your catalog and give your participants an easy way to feel good about taking part in the program.

Our good friends at Helping Hand Partners offer a wide array of products that can be suitable for any catalog.

4) CSR Events to Attend

One sure-fire way to increase engagement with a program is to hold events for people to go to, network, and have a little fun.

There are so many charitable things that you can do with events as well:

  • Have a celebrity meet-and-greet for underprivileged kids to attend. Your participants can come, meet the celebrity, and help the event run smoothly.
  • Provide transportation for your participants to go volunteer. This could be within a local area if your participants are mostly in one area. It can also be national or even international if you’d like to make a more far-reaching impact.
  • Co-host a charitable event with a local organization that participants can get to easily.

While some of these ideas may not involve points or rewards for those in your program, there is a great value in creating a community among your program participants. Personal connection is one of the most motivating aspects of human life.

5) Donate Unused Points

This final idea depends upon the structure of your program, but it’s one great way to support a charitable organization.

Whenever a participant leaves an incentive program, often times points will be issued into a “house account” where points go to be either dished out to other participants or they simply expire.

Rather than this monetary value being recycled back into some other operation, donate the points to a charity.

Although this would need to be negotiated at the start of a program and most likely agreed upon with the participant upon enrollment, if more and more companies did this with their programs, the amount of support going to these organizations would certainly spike.


We already know the benefits of CSR and how it can greatly impact not only the lives of those we help, but also how we are perceived by our customers and salespeople.

But perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of integrating CSR into your loyalty or sales incentive program is creating a caring community that your participants feel good about being a part of. 

Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

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