Sure, you can send cash to your favorite causes. But you can also turn in points from loyalty programs — points you may have little use for during a global pandemic — to donate to Black Lives Matter and other organizations.
For the last week, Americans have been taking to the streets in protest after George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, was killed by police on Memorial Day. The social justice movement and the issues it supports are nothing new, but the horrific events of May 25 have ignited a nationwide conversation about systemic racism. In an effort to contribute, many Americans have been speaking up on their platforms and digging into their pockets to donate and support relevant causes, like bailing out protesters.
If you’re inclined to do the same, you could start by looking at any points you’ve accrued in loyalty programs like Sephora’s Beauty Insider or Hilton Honors. Companies use these point systems to reward customers for buying their products. The points can then usually be exchanged for goods from the company itself or from partnering companies.
But some businesses will also allow you to convert those points into donation money, meaning you could use your extra points to support causes — including ones making a difference in the black community right now. This could be an option for you, if you have points in any of the following loyalty programs:
The chain of personal care and beauty products will now let you donate any loyalty points you’ve accrued to the National Black Justice Coalition, Twitter users discovered on Monday.
Beauty Insiders often collect thousands of points that can usually be exchanged for free gifts and samples. If you’re interested in donating your rewards points, however, you can go to sephora.com/rewards and sign into your account. As always, your points will be displayed across the top. But if you scroll down, you'll notice a few new donation options:
500 points to donate $10
1000 points to donate $20
1500 points to donate $30
Add the donation amount you're willing to contribute to your basket, and then check out like you would for any other purchase. You’ll get a confirmation in your email inbox.
If you have more than 1500 points, you should be able to make multiple donations, per Twitter users. But you can only use points from previous purchases, according to the FAQ on the product description. So if you have less than 500 points when you sign in, you won’t be able to redeem them for a donation ...at least not this time.
The money will be routed through the Tides Foundation, a nonprofit accelerator, to benefit the National Black Justice Coalition, according to the donation product description. That’s where your donation will “aid in their mission to end racism, homophobia, bias, and stigma toward Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and same-gender-loving people.”
American Express (via JustGiving)
American Express doesn’t have a new donation program in place like Sephora’s. But the company has been giving customers the option to turn points into donation money for a while now.
If you’re part of its Membership Rewards program, you can use your points to donate money to a cause through JustGiving — a search platform for fundraising pages that have been created by individuals.
Just go to www.justgiving.com (or head to global.americanexpress.com/rewards, select “Pay with Points at Checkout,” and click on JustGiving’s American Express partner page).
Search for a cause of your choosing (e.g. Black Lives Matter) and select a fundraiser from the options that come up. Make sure you read through the description to verify that this fundraiser is sending money to the cause of your choosing.
Click Donate, choose how much money you’d like to contribute, and then either create or log in to your JustGiving account. You can apply your Membership Rewards points at checkout.
Hilton (via PointWorthy)
Similar to American Express, Hilton allows its Hilton Honors members to donate any accrued points by way of a third-party platform — in this case, a platform called PointWorthy.
To use your Hilton Honors Points as donation money, go to www.pointworthy.com and search for the charity of your choosing (Note: You can search by state, if you’d like to support a more localized cause). Select a fundraiser, and in the top-right corner click on “Donate with points.” In the drop-down menu, you’ll see the option to link to your Hilton Honors account. Once you’ve done that, enter the amount you’d like to donate, add to basket, and follow the prompts to check out.
The minimum donation amount on PointWorthy is $10, which is equivalent to 4,000 Hilton Honors Points, according to PointWorthy’s Hilton FAQ. The entire donation made using Hilton Honors Points will be sent to the charity, it says.
Are there concerns about using my points to donate?
In response to news about Sephora’s new donation program, Twitter users raised concerns about the repercussions of donating using loyalty points. Some pointed out, for example, that a company as large as Sephora could do more — like donate a large sum of money themselves or match the point donations.
The company has yet to speak up about matching. But in the description for the donation, Sephora stated it “has donated $1M+ to five organizations that are working toward that goal: the National CARES Mentoring Movement, the Center for Urban Families, the NAACP’s ACT-SO, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Black Women’s Roundtable.”
As for companies benefiting from these programs: Yes, they profit from the money you spent in order to gain those points. But points from loyalty programs often go unused — especially now, when you're just not spending as much as you used to on things like travel and makeup.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the money you want to donate gets to where it needs to go.
Are you part of a loyalty program that isn’t listed here, and allows you to donate your points to a cause like Black Lives Matter? Tell us about them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add to our story.
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