Hollard’s cashback innovation for do-good volunteers also makes business sense. Here’s why.

Any South African who has spent an extended period abroad soon realizes that relative to the First World, their country’s needs are great. Even modest “do-good” efforts which are likely to go unnoticed in the rich North, can make a significant difference in SA. Hollard picked up on this reality by introducing a cash-back incentive – providing a discount of up to 20% on premiums for those volunteers serving an hour a week at charitable causes. In this uplifting interview, Hollard’s Warwick Bloom explains how it works, the reaction from clients and why the innovation also makes good business sense. He spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Find Timestamps below:

  • Warrick Bloom on the changemaker initiative and the “needs must” approach – 00:03:44
  • On policy costs and rebates – 00:08:14
  • On how they pick the causes that benefit from the initiative – 00:08:55
  • On religious organisations and who can be a qualified volunteer – 00:13:06

Warrick Bloom on the changemaker initiative and the “needs must” approach 

We’ve taken our organisational purpose which is to enable more people to create and secure a better future. And about three years ago we challenged our agency at the time to come up with ways that we could demonstrate that while connecting with our business as a life insurance company. And they came up with two ideas at the time. We’ve executed both of them now. The first idea was as an insurance company, we do a lot of advertising. So what if we could use our advertising in a way that helped small businesses and that became bigger for small businesses – we’re currently planning the third iteration of that. And that was also born out of this. You talk about “needs must” – the whole concept of shared value is actually around finding societal problems and solving them in a way that makes your business more competitive. And we wrap that in the term better futures. So if we can find a way to A, solve a problem and B, make our business more competitive at the same time, then that’s a concept that we’re interested in. Because for small business that was the first sort of one of those ideas. And actually changemaker or what became changemaker was born at the same time. The agency challenged us to say, what if we could create a different currency for paying premiums? What if we could use our volunteering, which we know makes a huge difference? We’ve seen it in Gift of the Givers. We’ve seen it in what happened in KZN during the floods. We’ve seen how much of an impact volunteering can have. So what if we could, at the same time as driving this idea of volunteering, make our own business better? And that’s really what was the kind of idea behind Changemaker.

On policy discounts and rebates 

So this is all in our existing, or works with, our existing pricing. And you get up to 20% discount with a limit of 500 grand a month. So our average refund at this stage has been R210 a month, which is fantastic, and it suggests that the average premium payer is paying a thousand rand or the average volunteer is actually paying more than R1000 a month for their life policy – R210 range is the average discount.

On how they pick the causes that benefit from the initiative

We worked with For Good. They are an existing tech platform that has access to hundreds of causes. We had a look through the list of volunteer organisations that they work with. We removed a few, not very many from that list. And that’s the list of volunteers. We’ve just added 100 more organisations to the list. So it’s a broad range of needs. Some organisations need assistance with donations, we don’t use those organisations because this is about volunteering. But we do use organisations where volunteering can be online. As an example, we had a policyholder who helped write fundraising letters for an organisation that was busy putting together its annual fundraising drive. She was able to use her marketing skills to write a fundraising letter in a beautiful demonstration of how online volunteering can work.

On religious organisations and who can be a qualified volunteer

We don’t disqualify anything on the basis of religion. So, yes, it would be religious based organisations. So that would certainly be available to people wishing to volunteer. The interesting thing about this whole idea is that it’s easy to copy. And actually we don’t mind if other life insurance companies copying this idea because part of our outlook is we want to catalyse change. So we’re a small part of a change and that serves a purpose as well because it makes sense from a financial perspective. So studies have shown, and I think the studies from the University of British Columbia at Michigan, that there’s a link between altruism and longevity. It’s got beneficial effects on blood pressure, stress and heart health. So there’s definitely a financial upside to people volunteering and holding life insurance policies – they’re going to live longer. It makes sense from a financial perspective, not just from an altruistic perspective. That’s part of our thinking. Part of our thinking is also, as you mentioned, about renewal. And if I’m in the space where I’m volunteering and I get something back for it, then why not? Why not continue with my policy? It’s what I like to call at an individual level that’s enlightened self-interest. At an organisational level it’s called shared value. And our label for it is better futures.

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