How Are You Using Incentives?

We asked Jessie Moore, Director of Sexuality Education at Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, to talk about her experience trying out different incentives. Let us know in the comments what works and doesn’t work for your program, too!

Our CAPP program has been offering $25 gift cards for 100% completion and $10 gift cards for 75% program completion as EBP incentives. The only problem is that it isn’t often that we are giving out the $10 ones and purchasing them becomes a hassle. What are others doing? Only giving an incentive for 100%? Giving $25 for 75-100% completion? Just curious. We’re thinking about getting rid of the $10 card all together.

Also, this might be useful for some. We have found that using generic gift cards for stores like Walmart or Target was not as successful. When we have chosen to promote sneakers (Finish Line or Foot Locker), teen girl fashion (Forever 21), or video games (GameStop), we see an increase in interest. Going after gamers opened an entirely untapped audience for us!

You can now find the Incentives Guidance (Word) from DOH at the bottom of the EBP Implementation page.

  – Jessie Moore


9 thoughts on “How Are You Using Incentives?”

  1. Currently, we distribute $25 Gift VISA cards for 100% attendance and two (2) AMC movie tickets ($20.50 total value) for 75-100% attendance. Personally, while I understand the logic incorporated when denying incentives in school-based settings (It gives the impression children are being rewarded for something they are LEGALLY bound to do!), I have yet to meet a student who did not cut class because it was against the law! While rewarding what to many is viewed as compulsory behavior, may seem counter-intuitive to the spirit of education, attendance and graduation rates in inner-city schools continue to be low, particularly in the South Bronx. While naturally, I and my team will comply with all guidelines regarding the rewarding and distribution of incentives as required by our funders, my position is perfect attendance should be rewarded REGARDLESS of setting, or the perceived notion of compulsory school attendance.

    1. Were the VISA cards approved because we were told that you couldn’t use those because they are essentially cash and there is a fee to buy them.

  2. In a school-based setting, our implementation of BPBR is considered part of their health curriculum. When we provide EBPs in most other venues outside of school, we do provide incentives. We give a $25.00 gift card that is good at Home Goods, Marshalls, and one more store I can’t remember for 75 to 100% attendance. Occasionally, when we work with middle school youth, we will hand out free cookie cards from Panera’s. We will also hand out Certificates of Attendance or Achievement in smaller venues.

    1. Hi,
      We haven’t found incentives particularly useful. We have used them with our Peer Health Educator program (which is now TOP) for some time. Since the program was a year long commitment the “stipend” was a $100 TD Bank Gift Card. You would not believe how many students still did not fulfill their requirements with that incentive being offered. We will not be using incentives going forward. We find good food brings the students in more than anything else. They really enjoy the parties we give which we do once in December for the holidays and once at the end of the school year. We bring in lots of food and play games and dance! We are planning to do additional parties to celebrate completion of TOP Community Service Learning projects.

  3. We only recently started using incentives as most of our previous programming was in a school or residential setting where rules prohibited it. For our programming in a new teen drop-in center we rewarded 100% attendance with $25 iTunes cards. In hindsight I wish we had set the bar at 75% because some youth may have had better attendance if they were still in the running for the reward after missing a day.
    Our biggest struggle is what kind of cards to buy since we can’t use businesses that sell alcohol and tobacco. We don’t have a mall. Most teens only have access to Stewarts or Family Dollar. I love the suggestion for gamers; I might be able to work with that. Keep the ideas coming!
    I feel like the youth would be happier if I could have T-shirts, insulated mugs, and bags printed with our logo and praise for their attendance. That way they would HAVE something that doesn’t require travel to a city or adding extra cash to use.

  4. I would like to lift up Jessie’s question “Were the VISA cards approved because we were told that you couldn’t use those because they are essentially cash and there is a fee to buy them”. Also it seems it would go against the guidance which references (gift cards to businesses that do not sell tobacco and alcohol products). Any feedback on this?

  5. The question was raised if Visa gift cards are allowable as incentives. Here is what I have learned in discussion with DOH program advisors:
    Providers should not use Visa gift cards as incentives. For one, there’s usually an activation surcharge associated with these types of cards and for another, it is for the youth practically the same as giving them cash which is not allowed. There may be other unforeseeable consequences such as a cashier/security/manager responding to a 14-year old using what appears at first instance to be a credit card.
    If you have questions about what types of incentives are permissible, please reach out to your program advisor at DOH.

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