Is It Better To Donate Miles Or Money To Charity?

Pros

Charity selection: When you first log in to the app, there are 28 charities to choose from, so you can run to support a cause near to your heart. These include Special Olympics, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.

Ease of use: Once you've signed up, the app works very well. You just click on your charity of choice and stop running. One swipe will show you who you're supporting with your run and who the corporate sponsors are. Another swipe will allow you to pause your workout if you need to.

Great design: This app was clearly built by professionals. The design is very attractive and easy to read.

Cons

If you’re looking for a fully-featured measuring app that maps your distance, beats a pulse, and plays music, this is not the app for you. I also found some of the features a bit mysterious. When looking at my history, I see an “Impact” column which I’m assuming is my dollars donated to date. But I’m not sure.  In addition, I’m a bit unclear how or why I’d integrate with a reward program, how or why I’d join a team, and how I’d add photos to my profile. A peruse of the Charity Miles website didn’t clarify my confusion. Finally, although there is a wish list where you can request your favorite charity be included into the charity options, I’d like to see some local/regional options so that I can support my local non-profits.

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Time is treasured too

Having worked in the refugee space, I know how much work goes into resettlement and reunification. I also know exactly what is involved in redeeming miles at scale.

The effort required to combine the two cannot be overstated.

So if you feel compelled to help in some way, but don’t have the miles or cash to spare, consider reaching out to one of the above organizations (or any charity supporting a cause you feel strongly about), and offering to volunteer.

It may not seem like much, but I can speak firsthand to how valuable it can be to have even a few hours of help making calls or stuffing envelopes. In addition to taking some of the workload off the organization’s staff or regular volunteers, just knowing there are others interested and supportive of the same goals can be so helpful for morale in a tough environment.

Truly, it all helps.

Bottom line

I tend to feel that donating miles to mainstream organizations isn’t an ideal option — in many cases the charity isn’t getting miles that can be easily or practically used, and the airline, not the donor, receives the tax credit.

If you do want to give miles, look to a group like Miles4Migrants or Give A Mile, who actually know about and understand miles. They are better equipped to extend the benefits you receive from your miles to others, which is likely what you’re after when considering a mileage donation. But even groups like that have costs and expenses that can’t be covered with miles.

At the end of the day, any contribution to an ethical charity that supports a cause you care about is better than nothing, regardless of the form the donation takes.

Have you donated miles, or worked with a charity that receives mileage donations? How did it work?

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