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Written by: Lesley Brown, Applaud’s Executive Director

One of the questions most often asked of me is how Applaud, formerly the Quarter Century Club (QCC), is funded, since members do not pay any fees? The simple answer is through an ‘affinity’ business model. Applaud signs on well-vetted partners that can offer our members discounts and special offers. The association then receives a percentage of sales which goes directly into the costs of running the organization, including rent, salaries, and other associated costs. No member information is ever shared with these partners.  

Applaud does not receive any government funding to run the organization.  From time to time, we successfully receive small grants from the province with the Ontario Seniors Community Grant or the federal New Horizons for Seniors Program. This allows us to run our ‘Community Matters’ program for seniors across the province.   The Canada Summer Jobs program also supports the organization with hiring summer students.  

So, how did Applaud set itself up for this type of funding model in the first place? To answer that question, I need to go back a bit to our history. In 1945, the organization started off as a program of the Ontario Government as an OPS Quarter Century Club, dedicated to long service recognition.  Government changes in the early 90’s shifted funding priorities and for a time this program stopped. In 1993, a group of members from the Club took matters into their own hands and incorporated them into a non-profit organization. This group did not want to lose a place where those who dedicated themselves to public service would continue to receive recognition for their services. To be able to fund the organization, the Board of Directors at the time started the affinity program, and our first partner was Johnson Insurance. In time the government reinstated their long-service recognition by providing funding for the QCC to administer the program. In 2024 that contract was no longer renewed with Applaud.  

It’s not often talked about with our members, so I want to give you an overview of the affinity program, named the ‘Rewards Program’ at Applaud. As I mentioned earlier, the program offers discounts and special offers for our members that are not available to the public. In turn, Applaud may receive a percentage of sales and/or sponsorship funds that go directly into running the organization. Often our partners can provide prizes that we use in membership drives or present at our events. In addition, our partners also present webinars where they have knowledge in certain areas such as – Tradex that offers webinars on RSP and TFSA Considerations: Year End Tax Opportunities, to name a few. At the current time these are our partners: 

  • Belair Direct (Home and Auto) 
  • Johnson Insurance (MEDOC) 
  • Hearing Life 
  • Tradex  
  • TELUS 
  • Arbor Memorial 
  • Collette Travel 
  • Merit Travel 
  • Goodlife Fitness 
  • Perkopolis 

We are continually on the lookout for new partners that will be appealing to our members. Applaud has a stringent vetting process that we use to select and approve our affinity partners including what type of benefits they bring to our members; whether they are financially sound; do they offer services across Ontario; what is their customer service complaint procedure; do they respond within 24 hours to complaints; and what are their risk mitigation procedures in place, to name a few. 

In 2024, as part of our commitment to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) into the organizational fabric, we will also be expecting the following of any new partners: 

  • Seeking partnerships with business owned by individuals representing marginalized groups or equity-deserving communities  
  • Ensuring alignment of DIEA policies and values with Applaud’s  
  • Considering diversity representation in the partner’s staff and clientele  
  • Considering and encouraging diverse representation in presenters for programs  
  • Requesting/requiring partners to present or provide article(s) on topics such as systemic barriers in their fields (i.e. financial barriers for newcomers to Canada, Navigating Financial Investment as a New Generation Earner, etc.)  

Applaud has a strict privacy policy, so our Reward partners never have any access to member contact information. We simply provide Reward Program information to our members through digital venues like our bi-weekly newsletter or direct mail, and it is left up to members if they want to follow through and receive the offers.  

We want to continue to improve the offerings in the Reward’s Program. We need your help in identifying the types of  products and services that you would like to see available at Applaud. Please fill out this survey and let us know how we can improve our offerings to you.  

If you have any questions on the Reward program, please contact me at lesley@applaudpublicservice.ca.