Update: They’ve raised 1.2 million miles of the 1.5 million mile goal. But unless they raise another 300,000 miles in the next 4 days, they won’t receive any of the miles. Please consider donating United miles to Give-a-Mile now. I have done so.
One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is ‘how can I donate miles to charity?’ And the problem is that you really can’t unless you want to give to one of a handful of pre-selected groups your frequent flyer program endorses, or you want to directly book an award for someone out of your account.
Give a Mile is a non-profit that helps people in need with air travel, using miles donated by members. So far they’ve been able to work with Air Canada, but now they have a partnership with United.
Just before the pandemic United Airlines launched a platform to let charities fundraise for miles from MileagePlus members, and Give A Mile is currently working to raise 1,500,000 United miles to bring loved ones to visit patients with terminal illnesses. They’ve separately given over 750 flights in Canada through their Aeroplan partnership.
The impact is huge, as this former flight recipient explains: “….You guys gave my brothers a last chance to see our Mom before she went unconscious and passed away. Without your generous support my brothers would not have had the chance to talk, pray and sing with our mom and get closure, God Bless your generous kind hearted souls for making all this possible. During the time spent with my brothers in Vancouver it gave my Dad, Mom and rest of family strength to know we are one and really know how valuable life is because in front of our eyes my mom’s life slipped away.”
If you’d like to participate, you can gift from 1000 to 500,000 miles. I’ve made a donation myself.
They’re around halfway towards their goal. There’s just 10 days left in the campaign. If they don’t raise another 750,000 miles then all the pledged miles go back to the donors and Give-a-Mile will have nothing. As a result, another way to think about it is that every miles you give right now is effectively ‘matched’ by the people that have already pledged. And the person who gives the last 1000 miles is effectively securing 1.5 million miles for the charity. So it’s the perfect time to jump in.
Give a Mile does more than just spend your miles. They work with hospices, ICUs and hospitals to confirm details and also make sure that Covid-19 rules and restrictions are being followed in order to connect people with dying people they care about. They do this on a volunteer basis, with all miles going towards this program.
Hopefully the ability to give to more charities – often we’re miles rich, and cash poor – is something airlines will consider. United deserves credit for making this platform available, and Give A Mile for using it to help people in need.