How gym visits and good driving channelled R2m to Covid-19 relief

Discovery Vitality’s MoveToGive is an initiative where scheme members donate their active rewards to selected charities. In the four years since its inception, MoveToGive has donated to a number of causes, including giving over R370,000 to help people affected by the Knysna fires and donating over 42,000 sanitary packs to help empower schoolgirls in need. It also donated over 100,000 hand sanitisers and half a million litres of water to help with the water crisis in Cape Town. Now, as Covid-19 takes its toll, Discovery is allowing members to donate their rewards towards those affected by the pandemic. Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Discovery Vitality, talks to BizNews founder Alec Hogg about the different ways in which Discovery is giving back. – Claire Badenhorst

MoveToGive helps give back to the community

Dr Mosima Mabunda is the head of Vitality Wellness. Lovely to be with you here to talk about what you’ve been doing with crowdsourcing philanthropy in this time of Covid-19. It’s an innovative concept. How far does it go back, the whole movement? When was it created?

Vitality MoveToGive has been with us for a number of years. It goes back as far as 2016. Just to give context to those who may not be familiar with it, it’s a series of campaigns that enables our members who reach their weekly goals to donate their Vitality active rewards to a pre-selected cause or charity. So, what this means for our members is that instead of claiming their reward with one of our partners, they can actually donate their miles to that pre-selected cause, allowing them to actually be a force for social good. In that setting, Discovery typically matches the member donations to increase the amount that ultimately gets donated to those pre-selected causes.

And how do you select the causes?

So it varies, Alec. I think a perfect example would be what is happening now. It varies with where the need is the greatest and what aligns with what we are doing as an organisation. Covid is a perfect example where the need is dire. The economic impact of the pandemic; the plight of the health care workers – there the need was almost written in the stars where people are starving, and we would align with those organisations that are trying to meet those challenges. We then, after a vetting process, would onboard them on to the programme, and then we encourage our members to donate their active rewards to those organisations.

Read also: How physical activity can make 60 the new 40 – and beat Covid-19

How much have the members opened their wallets to donate the Discovery Miles?

I continue to be blown away by just how selfless most of our members are. I mean, if I give you an example, to date, we’ve raised close to R2m and we’re only approaching the fifth month of the Covid pandemic. This is not the end. This just shows that this pandemic has touched the hearts and lives of our members, that they actually would rather use their gains to make our country a better place.

Are they allowed to pick individual charities to give their money to, or does it all go into one pool?

So, with Vitality MoveToGive we have pre-selected campaigns that we run and in that cycle we encourage our members to support that campaign. But because typically the campaigns are rolling, it’s not necessarily one campaign for a long time. Members actually get to contribute to campaigns that align with them. I’ll give you an example. We’ve had a campaign where we’re donating lifesaving hand-washing stations. We’ve had campaigns where we are feeding vulnerable people, where we donated up to 1,2 million meals, etc. So, there’s a rolling range of campaigns that we do.

We can help our frontline workers

The most recent one, which could not have come at a better time, is our partnership with Shout4Masks, where we’re trying to contribute and get our members to be part of the solution to get PPE in the hands of our frontline workers who are out there fighting the pandemic on our behalf.

That’s a lovely campaign – the Shout4Masks. You’ve got celebrities involved. You’ve got a very, very good cause. Is it gathering momentum?

We announced on Shout4Masks last week Thursday, if I’m not mistaken, towards the end of last week and as you rightly say, it’s a partnership that’s spearheaded by local musicians Danny K and Kabelo Mabalane. I know up to our webinar when we announced they also went out to actually gain us support and we’ll see in the week, but if I look at the previous trends, I definitely am encouraged that people are going to absolutely do their best to contribute their active rewards. So, I actually expect to see this succeeding because the subject of PPE and just how people are starting to value and appreciate health care workers is something that is close to almost every single member of Discovery.

Read also: Faces of Covid-19: How the pandemic is hurting South Africans, in pictures

What I like about Shout4Masks is it’s not just Vitality members that have an opportunity to contribute. If you go to their web page, they’ve got options on how you can actually contribute because it takes each and every single one of us in the country to do our part in helping our frontline workers and keeping them safe.

It’s nice to see you can start at R100 and that’ll buy five surgical masks and two N95 masks, or you can go as high as R250,000, which some companies have done.

If I take the example of what we’re doing with Shout4Masks and using Miles, really only 150 Discovery Miles is what you will need to donate six surgical masks to health care workers. If you donate 1,000 Discovery Miles, you can go further and donate a hospital mask combo that includes N95 masks and up to 20 surgical masks to those who keep us safe. It actually doesn’t take a lot. In a weekly cycle, Vitality members would be able to donate quite a significant amount to this cause.

Anyone can make a difference

A celebrity of a different type is Solly Krok who’s 91 years old and he’s committed to raising more than R100m for people in poor and rural communities. You’re involved there. How did that come about?

I’m gonna go back a little bit to just touch on why anyone would actually be keen on doing something like that. The pandemic has deepened the economic divide in our country and across the globe, and a lot of people have lost their jobs. It goes without saying that that translates into a lot of hungry families. So, in line with what we’re trying to do and realising the importance of nutrition to well-being and that the basic need is for people to eat, it came as a no-brainer that that initiative aligns with what we’re trying to do within Discovery. Being a part of that just came naturally for the business because we’re able to feed people in need and it aligns with what we had done previously.

That’s astonishing, isn’t it? Here’s a 91-year-old guy who says he’s never exercised before; never been to gym, and he’s now walking 91km so that he can raise money for charity – and a big number – R100m, which a lot of people are going to benefit from.

Definitely. For me, it just underscores how everyone has taken this pandemic personally. The gains that we’re going to realise are going to come from each and every one of us leading by example and being the change that we wish to see. I hope that this initiative encourages a lot more people to realise that all you need is a commitment to start. I mean, he said, I’m going to take this challenge, I’m going to start and I’m going to make a difference. Yes, the initiative will make a difference in and of itself, but what I’m hoping for is that the difference expands beyond that initiative and actually encourages people to stay within your own sphere of control. There are things that you can do to make a difference.

It’s about partnerships

Dr. Mabunda, what about MoveToGive? You said earlier that it’s been with us since 2016. I’ve seen in the past that you’ve helped, for instance, with the Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and done quite a lot of different supporting things. But within the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve spoken about Shout4Masks, and we’ve spoken about the Afrika Tikkun relationship with Solly Krok. What else have you been doing?

We have collaborated with organisations such as UNICEF, such as FoodForward SA, the Solidarity Fund where we’ve also contributed funds, and the Woolworths Trust. Another one that comes to mind is our initiative with Dis-Chem and for me, what this says is there’s a range of organisations out there that are really, really hungry to be making a difference. Most of them are partner-based and it just gives me such great joy when people say we’re looking to do this but we know that together we can achieve a lot more. We look to collaborate with all of these organisations that I’ve mentioned and I know going forward, as opportunities that align with what we’re focusing on come up, we’ll continue to evaluate and collaborate. The benefits are immense when we actually do this as a collective rather than as individuals.

That’s interesting. So, you have partners in many of the initiatives?

Correct, we do. I’m going to give you an example. Actually, most of our MoveToGive is geared like that where it’s a partner organisation, either the partners in our stable or organisations that actually approach us, but would have a focus area that aligns with our pillars. We’d onboard them and encourage our members to donate. I’m looking for an example that I can share with you. I think the Woolworths Trust is one. Woolworths is our healthy food partner and we have an ongoing campaign, and the objective there is to support those that have been affected by the pandemic with hygiene items and nutritious food.

Shout4Masks is one where it’s a collaboration but they are not in our partner stable. However, their cause resonates with us as an organisation so it only makes sense to support that and we’ve collaborated with them to take that forward. Afrika Tikkun, as you mentioned, is another where the story is just inspirational. Collaborating aligns with what we’re trying to do; it makes sense. So it’s a combination, but the common theme is causes that make our society better.

How it works 

So, Discovery members who are seeing it for the first time, they know about Discovery Miles which they can earn through the Discovery Bank, or through driving properly, or through active rewards. How do they go about participating?

If you’re a Discovery member, join Vitality, but if you’re not you can reach out to this organisation externally. For Vitality members, you activate active rewards and you get set personalised goals. When you reach them, you get an opportunity to play the game board and you can use the Miles that you earn from reaching goals to donate to charitable causes. So, I would encourage everyone… if you haven’t activated active rewards, this is an opportune time to use your health gains to benefit the broader society.

And how does this all fit within the group’s shared value model?

This, for me, actually represents the epitome and the heart of our shared value model. If you think about our shared value model, it has members, the insurers and society. It is the actions of the members that gets them health and that results in savings for the insurer. It also builds a healthier society. So, if you reach your exercise goals, you reap short and long term health rewards, and that benefits the insurer.

How that benefits society is, you take those gains – because we incentivise healthy behaviours – and say, I’m going to do my part to fight the pandemic. Instead of opting to purchase something with active rewards, you contribute to a cause and that ultimately builds a society that we all want to live in.

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