In our ongoing series highlighting companies that give back to our communities, we feature Aimia’s annual Toronto Data Philanthropy event, which took place on April 10 to 12, for the sixth consecutive year. Well-equipped to create social value by volunteering their skills and expertise, the Aimia team was proud to bring their award-winning analytics and marketing skills to help three organizations further their impact in our communities:

SEE Change sat down with Aimia’s vice president of analytics, Jeremy Molnar, to discuss the importance of this annual initiative, what it means to the company and its team of volunteers and how April being Diversity Month added special significance to this year’s event.


Why is this year’s focus on diversity and inclusion so important?


As global marketing and data analytics experts, we help our business clients garner insights from their data to help inform everything from their marketing campaigns to retail category management. We make business personal by recognizing people’s diverse and unique skills, talents, thinking styles, lifestyles, backgrounds and aspirations. It’s how we do business and I think it’s important to ensure that we lead and inspire action to build a diverse workforce and inclusive culture where everyone feels comfortable and valued for who they are.


Also, April is “Celebrate Diversity Month”.  This is the time of year when we can highlight and appreciate our differences and what better way than to demonstrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion by choosing three Canadian charitable organizations whose goals and missions support Diversity and Inclusion.


What are the greatest challenges these charities are facing?


Most charities don’t have the in-house resources or budget to devote to data and its insights.  This is really how we started these events.  We wanted to share our skills and expertise to help local charities improve their operations and understanding of their donor bases, communications, activities and impacts. Team leads from Aimia work with each charity a month in advance of the event to identify and organize the data that will be available during the event, and to determine the key business questions that each charity wants to answer or focus on. This process allows for the 48-hour event to really have an impact and get to the heart of what each charity needs.


The one constant year over year is that all not-for-profits are facing the challenge of doing more with less.  What is changing rapidly though is building, growing and using their data to find new opportunities and create an asset that they can leverage.   Themes do vary greatly by charity.   Some have a pretty good marketing program in place but are unclear how to find insights or segments that help them understand their donors or membership.  Others just want to know how to make their data more accessible so they can start to build knowledge.


All not-for-profits face an ever growing amount of data, analytics and options.  Through this event, using our knowledge and expertise we can help to streamline the thinking and set them on a course to get value from their data faster.


How were you able to help them?


Aimia has a proud history of supporting communities. We had more than 60 employees take part in this year’s event. By sharing skills and business expertise, companies can help local charities and not-for-profits accomplish things that would otherwise be difficult for them to do on their own. While financial support will always be important, we can also help charities in a way that has a long-lasting, sustainable impact and also inspire businesses to think differently about how companies can contribute to society.


We spent a few weeks with them prior to the event, to understand how their data is currently organized and where the gaps are, so that we can focus on solutions and insights during the event. In a short time, Aimia teams are able to reveal critical insights and prototype data solutions for the charities involved, but also to equip our partners with longer term plans and recommendations to help improve their data and analytics capabilities over time.


Any takeaways that you’d like to share from working with these charities?


For the most part, organizations have the capabilities we used at our event – marketing, data, donors, but they are not necessarily maximized to the benefit of those being helped.  When you see to what had been accomplished in the span of a couple days it’s amazing and truly diverse:


For Rainbow Railroad, it meant finding new ways to make their operations more efficient from data cleansing to segmenting that will help to improve responses of their programs.


At Special Olympics Canada, the focus was to increase and understand their athletes and volunteers by looking at their data in new ways and draw new insights.


With the Woman In Leadership Foundation, it was about building new analytics around their member lifecycle to help better quantify their success in placing woman in leadership positions through their mentorship program.


The teams are very proud of what they accomplished, these are real results that will have real impacts on our community.   Overall, for me, the clear takeaway is that when you take the capabilities you have as an organization and you work to remove obstacles, give your team something to strive for and let them focus on the task at hand they will work together and do some pretty amazing things.


What are you most proud of, as a volunteer at the Data Philanthropy Event?


There is no better moment than when we hear the teams read out the product of their two days and you see how it is directly connected to these charities being able to do more with less, whether it was giving them access to expertise on marketing, or databases design or donor segments and that they can take the knowledge they learned here into the future.


To me the pride is in knowing I played a small part in ensuring our organization is there to support the charities, this event and our community.

Jeremy Molnar is Vice President, Analytics at Aimia.

Aimia Inc. is a data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company that has set its sights on being a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – or as they call it, Social Purpose. A socially responsible company, with a strong ethical and distinctive culture, Aimia uses its unique talents to achieve sustained and robust revenue growth while driving social good and impact.

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