Loyalty programs have always focused on helping customers get more value from each dollar, but now they want to help boost your health and social consciousness as well. Imagine saving money, earning points and achieving your loftier goals, like improving health and making the world a better place. It’s all possible.

Today’s most innovative companies see customers as individuals, not rows of cookie cut-outs. As marketers increase their understanding of each customer, by studying insights generated from loyalty program activity, they’ve come to appreciate the value of a long-term relationship with their best customers. And they are creating more rewards “carrots” to help customers achieve their most important life goals.

"Loyalty programs have always been striving to stretch customer dollars, but now they can boost customer community service and health as well."

Here are just a few of the new, highly creative loyalty programs that demonstrate one of the biggest trends in customer loyalty programs—a focus on individual social causes and wellness issues:

  • According to research published by COLLOQUY, one-third of all loyalty points ($16 billion worth) go unredeemed each year. A new organization, KULA Causes, provides an alternative to wasting those rewards. Currently in beta testing, KULA Causes will enable you to convert unredeemed rewards points and frequent- flier miles into charitable contributions to any one of two million global charities.

  • In conjunction with customer loyalty programs, Adflow Health Networks is placing its biometric screening kiosks (called Personal Health Centers™) in stores like Rite Aid. Unlike old analog blood pressure screening machines, the new kiosks are interactive, offer many tests to help you access and monitor your health, and hand out relevant health information and coupons on the spot.

  • Centennial Bank of Florida and Arkansas partnered with Florida Keys-based Sugarloaf School to implement a program that rewards the school’s sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students for academic performance, health and safety, and good behavior. Teachers load points via a virtual terminal or by swiping the student’s card in a magnetic stripe reader provided by the bank. According to Sugarloaf School Principal Harry Russell, accumulated points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, like an afternoon movie in the school gym, lunch with the principal, or attending a dance. (Variations of the program are in schools in 51 counties in Florida as well as other states.)

  • Citi recently created the Citi ThankYou Point-Sharing App on Facebook. Users can create their own Facebook “groups” to pool points and redeem them toward a group purchase. This could be anything imaginable – for example, purchasing a plane ticket for someone who needs to travel for surgery, or buying needed supplies for a nonprofit.

  • DailyFeats is a website and app that rewards you for taking better care of you, your family, and the planet every day. Earn points by doing good deeds, like enjoying a piece of fresh fruit, tutoring a child, taking a brisk walk to relieve stress, or upgrading your home’s insulation. Redeem your points for discounts at neighborhood businesses, savings from national brands, or partner donations to 501(c)3 nonprofits.

Loyalty programs have always been striving to stretch customer dollars, but now they can boost customer community service and health as well. In other words, out with the cookies, and in with the carrots.