AIR MILES for Social Change-YMCA Canada & Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Pilot

Organization Sponsor: YMCA of Canada

Organization Partner: Public Health Agency of Canada


Program Description

According to the results of a landmark program between AIR MILES for Social Change, YMCA Canada (YMCA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), loyalty programs have an influential role to play in encouraging healthy behaviour.  A recent nationwide pilot program, comprising over 46,000 YMCA members across Canada, gave AIR MILES® reward miles for visits to YMCA health, fitness and aquatics facilities.  The pilot involved 15 YMCA locations across four YMCA Member Associations in Canada. This resulted in 63% of participating YMCA members taking part in physical activity between one to six more times per week in comparison to their activity during the same time in the previous year.

"In collaboration with AIR MILES for Social Change, we have taken an innovative approach to inspire and reward increased and sustained physical activity," says Darlene Frampton, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy (Acting), YMCA Canada. "Anything we can do to promote healthy living for our members is a win and offering this program to incentivize physical activity has exceeded our expectations."

Funding Sources: 

 Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

Strategies For Sustainability: 

AIR MILES for Social Change is a social venture within the AIR MILES® Reward Program, operated by LoyaltyOne, Inc. which is a global provider of coalition loyalty, customer analytics and custom loyalty services. AIR MILES for Social Change partners with government agencies, energy utilities, transit service providers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to leverage the value of AIR MILES reward miles and the program's reach into more than two-thirds of Canadian households. YMCA Canada is a federation made up of 45 YMCA and 5 YMCA-YWCA Member Associations. Each of the 50 Associations within the Federation serves local community needs and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. As a registered charity, YMCA Canada is dedicated to building healthy communities by nurturing the potential of children, teens and young adults, promoting healthy living, and fostering social responsibility in order to create lasting personal and social change. Collectively, YMCAs in Canada serve more than 2.24 million people in more than 1,000 Canadian locations each year. Our focus on inclusiveness and accessibility means we welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life. Through YMCA financial assistance programs and the YMCA Strong Kids campaign, the YMCA is accessible to all.

Impact Of Program: 

Over 46,000 YMCA members signed up for the program, greatly exceeding the target of 25,000. Overall, the YMCA saw a 6% lift in incremental visits compared against the control group.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

The program offered 25 bonus reward miles at sign-up, with an ongoing offer of one reward mile per two visits and a special bonus of 20 reward miles for three weekly visits during the months of September and October.63% of Participating YMCA Members Increased Visits When Offered AIR MILES® reward miles

Challenges To Meet Them: 

"In the fight against chronic disease and obesity, cross-sector collaboration is a powerful approach. Partnerships like the one between AIR MILES for Social Change, YMCA and PHAC underscore this and show that together we can spark positive change," says Angela Simo Brown, General Manager and Co-Founder, AIR MILES for Social Change.  "We believe that people are ready to make healthier choices — they just need the right incentive."

Length and Stage of Project: 

Commissioned by YMCA and PHAC to devise a cost-effective incentive program to help increase activities amongst adults and children, the pilot study launched in April 2013 and is still in market.

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