South Africa’s biggest and most established community loyalty programme, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Launched in 1997 as an entrepreneurial business with the aim of empowering consumers to make a difference to education, the programme has grown significantly and today raises more than R6 million a month for a wide range of schools, charities and conservation organisations.
1.2 million supporters and R500 million raised over 20 years are testimony to both the popularity and the effectiveness of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme. “Our model is really simple and impactful and consistent, and that’s what people enjoy,” says Pieter Twine, General Manager of MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, “It is fundraising for causes that people really care about and empowering them to choose where the money goes. This makes MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet highly relevant in the lives of customers, partners stores, schools, charities and conservation organisations. Customers, businesses and communities are connected in a practical way with everyone playing their part to make a difference in our country.”
Over the decades, the fundraising programme has not just grown but evolved in order to optimize impact. In 2007, MyVillage and MyPlanet were added as additional options for people who wanted to give back to more causes and to be relevant to those supporters whose children had finished school. Several dedicated funds have also been developed to make it easy for supporters to target their giving to relevant and important causes. In that same year, the Thuso Fund for Schools and Charities was created to specifically assist under-resourced schools and charities in communities.
In 2011, during the shocking surge of Rhino poaching, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund was established with the Endangered Wildlife Trust as its administrator. This enabled customers to avoid the subsequent bloom of rhino fundraising scams and gave them peace of mind that their efforts to help save Rhinos were supporting bona fide conservation organisations and projects. To date, R9.3 million has been raised thanks to MyPlanet Rhino Fund supporters. These funds are backing different projects across the country including investments in security, equipment, training, rhino orphan rehabilitation and anti-poaching tracker dogs.
As education is close to the hearts of many South Africans, the Dream2Teach Scholarship Fund was launched by the programme in September this year. Dream2Teach enables supporters to raise funds to provide bursaries to matriculants with a passion to become a teacher but no other means to fund their tertiary education. The fund’s aim is to empower South Africans to contribute directly to growing quality teachers without costing them a cent, and MySchool has committed to an initial lump-sum investment of R1 million to the fund the first two qualifying students.
There is a beautiful simplicity in the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet model. People sign up for free as supporters and can nominate up to three schools, charities or conservation causes as their beneficiaries. Every time they swipe their card at a point of purchase in a Woolworths store, or at any other partner store, the participating retailer makes a contribution on their behalf, at no cost to them. Globally, it stands out as an innovative South African loyalty programme that empowers people to do good. For the past four years, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has reliably notched up consecutive top awards as an internationally acclaimed loyalty programme.
“Years ago, Woolworths recognised the significant potential for the MySchool programme to become a ground-breaking, national customer loyalty programme that could make a difference,” comments Zyda Rylands, CEO of Woolworths SA, “Today, the growth is phenomenal, and is a testimony to the generous spirit of the Woolies customers who sign up and swipe to raise funds on behalf of the causes that are close to their hearts. More than a million customers embrace their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet loyalty reward as the gift of giving, and Woolworths highly appreciates the difference that we, as well as the partners, are able to make to schools and charities across the country because of their support.”
“Our 20th anniversary is a natural time to take stock,” says Pieter. “We are so grateful for the 1.2 million South Africans on board and swiping their cards to make a difference and there is still much we can do and should do to support South Africa’s schools and community organisations. Our next goal is to double our impact by having at least 2 million supporters. With amazing partners such as Woolworths, Engen and Bidvest Waltons we have built long term relationships that stood the test of time. Online partner loot.co.za and travel partner Flight Centre are now also on board increasing the opportunities for their customers to make a difference.”
MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet is celebrating its 20th anniversary by giving back to its supporters and communities. Their #MySchool20 campaign encourages supporters and influencers alike to not simply swipe for their favourite cause but to talk about them. Simply by using the hashtag on Facebook or Twitter and sharing which cause they support, 20 lucky customers can each win a R20 000 Woolworths gift card plus a R20 000 cash donation to their school or charity.
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