Purpose and Accomplishments


The Incentive Federation Inc. was founded in 1984 as an umbrella organization for the incentive field representing national trade associations, individual companies, trade publications, and the national trade shows. In this role, it represents all aspects of incentive marketing, including merchandise, travel, gift cards and services encompassing incentives, corporate gifts, rewards, recognition, promotional products, and other related promotional tools. Originally founded as the government affairs voice of the incentive field, the Federation continues to protect the field, conducts research and is an Accredited Standards Developer . In this function, it has been successful at:

  • providing constructive input into tax laws related to the treatment of qualified non-cash rewards;
  • helping federal and state agencies see the benefits of safety incentive programs in reducing workplace injuries;
  • helping federal regulators understand that incentives and premiums have a variety of important, legitimate uses for business; and
  • providing input when states draft statutes or regulations regulating promotion marketing.

Building on its success, the Federation has expanded its mission into three related areas: (a) corporate outreach, (b) research, and (c) education, through its administration of studies of the incentive field and keeps members informed about its work in these three areas and on the latest laws and regulations affecting the field through regular newsletters and updates. As an Accredited Standards Developer approved by the American National Standards Institute, the Federation has embarked on identifying and promulgating standards for its members and their customers.

The Federation is a 501 (C) (6) non-profit and tax-exempt organization with its principal office in Falls Church, Virginia. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of incentive industry professionals selected from among its trade association and corporate members.

Federation’s Industry Studies

The 2016 Incentive Marketplace Estimate Research Study, conducted in partnership with Intellective Group, is currently in the field gathering responses and is on target for completion in the spring. The study seeks to measure the expenditures of businesses for non-cash rewards for employees, customers and partners. The results will update studies from previous years and provide details about expenditures spent on gift cards, rewards points, travel, and merchandise by corporate America. New this year, the study will also focus on the number of program owners using award points.

Not only will the research results be valuable for IFI member companies and the incentive marketplace, but the Incentive Federation can use the results to educate and influence elected officials and all businesses about the importance and magnitude of the incentive marketplace.

The Federation’s most recently completed and published research conducted in partnership with Intellective Group, the 2015 Program Design and Support Study, used a national sample of business stakeholders with at least $1M in revenue, and aimed to determine the drivers of programs, award types, supplier use and program metrics.  A series of white papers was published focusing on program goals and objectives; communication, technology and reporting; award program spending; and engaging outside support. The white papers are available on the Federation’s Home Page. The full study may be reviewed here.

The Incentive Federation’s 2013 Market Sizing Study collected data from a national sample of business executives to estimate the size of the non-cash incentives marketplace.  The study revealed that 74% of U.S. businesses use non-cash rewards to recognize and reward key audiences in the form of incentive travel, merchandise or gift cards, and spend $76.9 billion per year on incentive travel, merchandise, and gift cards.  This most recent market sizing study confirmed that the use of incentive merchandise continues to reward and recognize employees, sales teams, channel partners and customers, and virtually all of these companies (98%) use some form of merchandise or gift card as a reward, collectively spending $54.4 billion each year on just these two areas.


  • Development of a message that is resonating with corporate America.
  • Contribution to the expanded use of rewards and recognition in the non-sales arena.


  • Recognition and safety programs— The Federation was instrumental in the development of key provisions in the 1996 Tax Reform Act that provided a significant incentive for the use of merchandise rewards in safety and length-of-service programs.
  • OSHA regulations— The Federation helped make sure that OSHA regulations related to incentive programs took into account the vital role they can play in improving safety.
  • Protection of bank incentives and premiums— The Federation helped federal regulators understand that premiums and incentives had legitimate uses on the part of financial institutions.
  • Protection of sweepstakes and contests— The Federation helped state and federal regulators understand that sweepstakes and contests should not be saddled with onerous and unfair requirements.
  • Keeping members informed—The Federation’s legislative monitoring service has helped promotion and gift card suppliers keep abreast of any key state and federal regulations which are under discussion, and that could affect their businesses.


  • Support for nearly one dozen research projects created through association partners;
  • Support for White Papers created by industry associations and partners.