Frequent Flyers Giving Back

The Milepoint Kiva lending team has together made over $4 million in microloans, the third most of any Kiva group.

The couple hundred passengers on last month’s Star MegaDO raised over a hundred thousand dollars for charity.

The raffle and other activities at last weekend’s Frequent Traveler University raised over $10,000 for charity. And Randy Petersen dressed up as Santa and — in partnership with KULA Causes — gave everyone in attendance a code good for donating $10 to any charity of their choice.

In the past Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell has shared that the chain does much of its philanthropy through its hotels — the Hyatt Foundation gives to local charities recommended by its properties, helping their hotels to participate in their local communities. Which is great. But today @HyattPR shared a new initiative that also lets Hyatt’s guests have a voice in their giving.

Through Hyatt’s Facebook community presence, they’re asking folks to vote each day through December 31 for which charities will receive an additional $10,000 or $5000 grant.

And at a minimum, it’s an opportunity to learn about some of the local organizations that Hyatt is supporting, and if they’re groups in the communities you visit they may hold an interest for you as well.

Randy Petersen may have dressed up as Santa at Frequent Traveler University, but one of my great joys in helping to found Milepoint has been all of the good work that frequent flyers have done together to support worthy causes. So much about travel is about making our own lives more comfortable (in a sea otherwise filled with discomfort). And so much about this miles and points hobby is inherently selfish. I’ve been proud to be associated with so many great people who also try to give back to the communities they visit, frequent, and benefit from.

For those who see that especially as a part of this season, so much the better!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I would venture to guess the Milepoint Kiva lending team wouldn’t be a blip on the radar without CC funding. Little to with true charity. Same for the Star MegaDO. People did that as a charitable cause to give back? LOL!

  2. HikerT, you have a valid point, and we all need to think through our motives. But if we can benefit others while at the same time experiencing some benefits ourselves, why not? For example the FlexPerks card from USBank has a 3x category for charitable contributions. The motive for making contributions isn’t just to get the 3x, but as long as it’s available, it makes sense for some to use that method when making contributions. Locally, I’m aware of a promotion that allows me to buy a grocery store gift card for a store where I always shop anyway with a mileage earning card, and they will kick back 5% of each such purchase to a local charity. I’d like to see the experts posting more information on these win-win opportunities out there.

  3. HikerT, your point is ridiculous.
    Money that is invested in Kiva loans is real money. Whether it first comes via a credit card or directly from a bank account make very little difference. Or maybe you have forgotten that credit card bills must be paid every month? Or do you think I have a magic wand for the $1500 or so I have recently invested in Kiva loans and now must pay in the coming weeks?
    Guess what! The money for my Kiva loans is going to come out of my savings. And since I am retired with a modest income, that means that I am going to forego something else in order to invest in more Kiva loans.
    You also forget that most Kiva lenders like myself also make donations to Kiva. The amount that I have donated to Kiva over the years is FAR GREATER than the few miles/points/cash back I have earned while funding some of my loans via credit card. The average Kiva lender donates about 7% of what they loan. Do you know of a credit card that gives back 7% or more in cash back, miles or points?

  4. Maybe Hyatt can give back by paying its workers more and respecting their rights. We’re not staying at a Hyatt until then, some small thousands in charity and brand-polishing notwithstanding.

  5. Leverage is a great way to multiply your charitable impact. Whether it’s giving appreciated stock (with double tax benefits – full charitable deduction plus no capital gains tax due) or getting a little bit back from a credit card, it all helps!!

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