Family

The new online shopping portal giving back to Kiwi charities

Whenever you spend, a worthy cause receives a donation. Now that's what we call guilt-free shopping.

By Karyn Henger
A new online shopping portal that gives back to Kiwi charities has launched, giving us all a very worthy reason to shop online.
Rewardhub allows you to shop your favourite brands and at the same time support your chosen charities with each purchase.
It's a concept that will appeal to anyone with a social conscience and takes the guilt out of shopping for those who struggle with their inner grinch.
To use Rewardhub you need to register then select your chosen charities. Once that's done you can begin shopping.
Every link on the portal is tracked so that the retailer you bought from knows which charity you support and donates a percentage of your spend.
With more than 100 popular and reputable retailers on the hub including Bendon, Booking.com, Air BnB, Merchant, Amazon, Cotton On, OnceIt, Amazon, Marks & Spencer New Zealand and Mighty Ape many shoppers will find retailers that they already shopped with anyway.
Meanwhile, there are around 40 causes on the platform that you can donate to. Rewardhub founder and director Michael Fuyala expects this number to exceed 1000 within two years.
The idea for the portal, which went live in November, evolved from a family-run Christmas tree business.
Michael explains, "Nearly 10 years ago our uncle Ron, who ran the business, became ill and sadly passed away. Us youngsters carried on the business in our spare time and as things evolved we started selling more online. We'd also been doing fundraisers and when we moved those online they did really well.
"At the same time my day job was in online media, and I was exploring the idea of creating a platform for tracking online sales for retailers when I got an email asking about our tree fundraisers.
"It got me thinking about how the tracking technology could make the fundraisers even easier. Then it struck me that our Christmas tree fundraising model could work all year round with more than just Christmas trees."
Not one to waste time, Michael registered the name Rewardhub within 30 minutes of having his light bulb moment and created a prototype website the very next day.
Rewardhub founder and director Michael Fuyala - the idea for the shopping portal all began with Christmas trees.
StarJam - an award-winning Kiwi charity which inspires young people with disabilities to express themselves through music, dance, singing and performance is one of the charities to benefit from being on the site.
You might have cried your way through the Lotto New Zealand TV ad that is currently running, which features StarJam (see below).
StarJam CEO Mary Ansell calls the opportunity a "triple win".
"Everyone gets something out of it and it's done in a very non-intrusive way. People get to feel good about shopping."
Mary says the funding generated through Rewardhub will help StarJam achieve its goal to expand further across New Zealand. It currently runs 44 free workshops per week for up to 500 "jammers" in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington including the Wairarapa and Christchurch.
"But we'd like to double numbers in the next few years," Mary says.
The biggest thing that jammers get out of StarJam is that it gives them, for the very first time, an interest outside of school that is their very own, Mary says.
"In the case of Benjiro Fenwick, who is the boy in the wheelchair that features in the Lotto ad, StarJam was Benjiro's very very first after-school activity with other kids. While his older brother had rugby training and other activities after school, Benjiro had therapy sessions. So to be able to go and do something fun after school just like his big brother was really exciting for him.
"We have lots of those kinds of stories," she continues. "The self confidence they get and the pride. StarJam is one of the only places where they can pursue their love of music, feel included and express themselves in their way."
Benjiro (in his wheelchair) with his workshop, West Dazzling Dance, in Auckland. Benjiro is pictured with a mix of other jammers, volunteers and StarJam staff.
Mary has done all of her Christmas shopping through Rewardhub and Michael says early tracking figures tell him that Mary is not the only one.
"The response from shoppers has been overwhelmingly positive," he says.
"It's already starting to take on a life of its own with lots of new shoppers signing up every day."
When Rewardhub launched a month ago, he says there were "two acid tests it needed to pass to be viable".
"Firstly would shoppers sign up? We learned quickly that they would, especially when they felt a strong connection to the cause they care about.
"Secondly, we needed to understand if they would start their online shopping journey on the platform. This has been slower, but in the last two weeks has started to really gather momentum with nearly $8000 spent in less than a month.
"Retail partners have been really supportive too," he says.
"It's pretty energising when your customer says to you, 'We really like what you're doing and want you to succeed, how can we help?'"