Tax Day is almost here, but you can get a jump on next year’s deductions by planning to donate frequent flyer miles through airline loyalty programs or to causes like The Dream Foundation, Project Hero, Make-A-Wish, and many more.
Donating through Airline Mileage Programs:
One of the easiest options is to directly through the airline where your miles are accumulated. Many of the major carriers have developed relationships with established charities or have created their own charitable programs.
American Airlines’ AAdvantage works along with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Project Hero to collect miles for those in need. American also has its own program, Miles for Kids In Need, which provides air transportation to ailing children and their families to obtain medical treatment. American has a 250 miles minimum requirement for donation. 800-222-2377.
Delta Air Line’s frequent-flier charity division, SkyWish, works with select charities including UNICEF, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American Red Cross, among others, and highlights a different organization every quarter. Members wishing to make a contribution must donate a minimum of 5,000 miles and can gift to the participating charity of their choice. 800-323-2323.
United Airlines has almost 5o different organizations you can donate your miles to. A minimum of 500 miles is required per donation. Some options include Operation USA, The Ronald McDonald House, Disabled Sports USA, The Special Olympics, Guide Dogs of America and 43 more charitable options.
Alaska Airlines lets members donate into the Alaska Airline Charity Miles program, which distributed donated miles to charities that work with the airlines. Contributions support disaster relief efforts, Angel Flight West, The Dream Foundation, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation, Hero Miles, Make-A-Wish, Medical Teams International, the National Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.
Donate to Organizations that Rely on Air Travel & Miles
The Dream Foundation is geared specifically to providing aid to terminally ill adults and is always in need of miles to provide air travel to their foundation recipients. Currently,the foundation has four partner carriers from which you can donate miles: United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines. However, you may also be able to donate miles from other airlines if approved by the Dream Foundation. 805-564-2131.
The Pennsylvania-based Twilight Wish Foundation is dedicated to making the dreams of aging seniors come true. Whether it’s reuniting with family members one last time, traveling to a native country, or even taking a Caribbean cruise for the first time ever, the foundation works to fulfill the wishes of citizens ages 68 and older. 215-230-8777 (within Pennsylvania); 877-893-9474 (outside Pennsylvania)
Make-A-Wish’s air mileage program makes sure that each year 10,000 other children combating life-threatening medical conditions will travel with their families to any destination of their choosing. The organization purchases tickets for children with the frequent-flier miles or cash donations it receives from major airline patrons. Make-A-Wish has partnered with three major airlines—Delta, United and US Airways—for support in honoring its promise to help kids take flight and travel for a Make-A-Wish experience. This April, the airlines encourage their frequent flier members to donate to Make-A-Wish, in celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary. United Airlines has even promised to match the April donations of its MileagePlus members, up to 3 million miles. 602-279-9474
If you’re a pet lover, you may consider donating miles to, an Italy-based non-profit company dedicated to rescuing stray dogs in Romania. With your gifted miles, a volunteer can fly to Romania and oversee the rescue and transfer of up to five dogs back to different cities in Europe. Save The Dogs works with two European carries: Millemiglia and Lufthansa’s Star Alliance. 39 0239445900.
You can also donate your air miles to The Fisher House, a non-profit organization that supports American military troops by aiding in humanitarian efforts outside of what the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs can provide. Their program, Operation Hero Miles, is overseen by The Fisher House for the Department of Defense and supplies free airline tickets to military personnel undergoing treatment due to injuries received during service. It also provides free round-trip airfare to service men and women’s families, enabling them to visit the injured soldiers while at the treatment facilities. Since its inception in 1990, the program has provided more than 36,000 tickets to wounded, injured, and ill service members and their families, worth nearly $57 million. Partnering airline companies include: Airtrain Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways. 888-294-8560.
Lastly, if you’re not sure where you want to donate miles, check out Mile Donor. This non-profit site assists in the charitable distribution of donated frequent flier miles points and awards across the globe by seeking donations and linking people seeking donations with charities available to help.
For more ways to volunteer and donate, visit our complete Voluntourism archives.
By Srbui Karapetian for PeterGreenberg.com