Most people think of donating money, goods or services to a charity, but donating airmiles can also be a very valuable contribution. When you donate airmiles, many charities are able to accomplish things that they would not normally be able to do because they couldn't afford to pay for airfare.
What Are airmiles?
If you are the sort of traveler who flies on a plane often, the odds are good that you are already familiar with airmiles, also known as frequent flier miles. Airlines set up airmiles reward programs in order to encourage people who travel often to remain loyal to one particular airline. This loyalty program is typically available to flyers in many different countries around the world where the airlines operate. Today, travelers can often redeem airmiles for merchandise or significant discounts. Travelers also use accumulated airmiles to purchase free airline tickets to any destination. However, another option is to donate those accumulated miles to a nonprofit organization.
How Do You Donate airmiles?
If you've accumulated a fair number of airmiles with a particular airline, then you may want to donate them. It's a wonderful alternative if you can't afford to donate financially to your favorite charity. There are a number of charities across the world that have a need for airmiles, and the process of donating your extra miles is very simple. The following is a small sampling of the kind of charities that you can help when you donate miles, and the ways in which charities make use of that donation. Wish granting charities, in particular, are in need of airmiles.
Donate to the Make a Wish Foundation
The Make-a-Wish Foundation is a magical charity that grants wishes to thousands of kids, every year, who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The first wish ever granted by the organization was to offer one little boy the opportunity to experience being a police officer. Since then, the organization has granted over 100,000 wishes and continues to grant a wish every forty minutes. This amazing task is accomplished through the generous donations of sponsors and individuals around the country.
One of the ways that supporters of the Make-a-Wish Foundation can help is by providing the Foundation with airmiles that can help the organization grant travel wishes. Each year, the Make-a-Wish Foundation requires over 2.5 billion airmiles to accomplish what it needs to do to grant every travel-related wish, and every single air mile that you donate to the Foundation brings it one air mile closer to granting another small child's travel wish.
Operation Hero Miles
On October 28, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the 2005 Defense Appropriations Bill, which included a section titled "Operation Hero Miles." That section was created as part of the bill by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in an effort to help people donate airmiles to the troops stationed overseas so that they can get back home for free whenever they are on leave.
Not only does it help the troops get home, but it also helps families fly to military hospitals when one of their loved ones is wounded in battle. The amazing thing about the program is that sometimes airlines will go above and beyond in their support of the program by matching the air mile donations.
For example, during Memorial Day in 2007, airlines matched all donations, which meant that if someone donated 300 airmiles, the airline would match that for a total donation of 600 airmiles. The Fisher House Foundation manages the donation process, which is very easy. All you need to do is visit the Hero Miles donation page, scroll down to the airline you use, and follow the instructions on the page to donate miles.
Donate to Salvation Army
The Salvation Army also accepts airmiles donations to help the organization assist families and individuals in times of crisis and need. Often, Salvation Army volunteers need to travel quickly during times of crisis in order to help people in affected areas of the country.
When you donate airmiles to the Salvation Army, you're ensuring that whenever disaster strikes and aid is needed, the Salvation Army will be ready and able to help. This program is only currently offered through United Airlines, and United travelers can automatically set up their "Mileage Plus" account in order to accumulate airmiles. When airmiles reach at least 1,000 miles, frequent flyers can call United and request to donate miles to the Salvation Army.
Children's Cancer Association
Another great organization to donate your airmiles to is the Children's Cancer Association. Much like Make-a-Wish, the CCA grants wishes to children who are suffering from terminal cancer so that they can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime wish for something that they've always wanted to do or visit a place in the world that they've always wanted to go. It would be a tremendous feeling to know that you've contributed to fulfilling the simple wish of a terminally ill child. The organization has a constant need for airmiles in order to support their efforts and to grant wishes, so donate your airmiles generously for this excellent cause.
Other Ways to Donate Miles
Specific airlines offer special web pages where you can review the air mile donation causes they support, including:
Consider the IRS Impact
Keep in mind that the IRS considers airmiles as a form of a gift, so when you donate miles, it's usually not tax deductible. Regardless, donating your saved airmiles is one of the easiest and most convenient ways for many travelers to help support their favorite charities.