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Miles4Migrants 501(c)3 nonprofit flies refugees using points/miles

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Old Feb 9, 17, 8:11 pm
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Miles4Migrants 501(c)3 nonprofit flies refugees using points/miles

Miles4Migrants is a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organized by a few credit card churners/frequent flyer miles junkies. Our mission is simple: we use donated frequent flyer miles to fly refugees to their new homes. We do this by linking miles donors to refugees (or their family members reunifying with them) who are presented to us by partner NGOs.

If you are interested in helping with our mission please let us know. Your help can come in a number of forms; you could volunteer to use your miles to fly refugees, donate money to cover taxes and fees, or offer other support or outreach to people you think may be able to help our cause. Monetary donations are tax-deductible. You can also make us your chosen charity on Amazon Smile at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/81-3844393

If you are willing to volunteer frequent flyer miles or transferable points (i.e. UR, MR, SPG, TYP), please fill out this google form with your donation amount. Keep in mind that the minimum contribution is 10k points/miles (for Avios and URs only) and that most of our recipients will need closer to 17.5k-25k points/miles per refugee to travel to their new home, in addition to taxes and fees. We are trying to keep refugee families on a single ticket and a single redemption, so for instance a family of 3 people will hopefully be flown on a single pledge of ~60k miles (depending on origin and destination of course).

Our current major needs are credit card points that can be converted to SQ miles (URs, MRs, TYPs) and AA miles, but this will certainly change over time.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, please do so through our website at http://www.miles4migrants.org/donate.php

If you have other assistance to offer or any questions about our programs, please email us at contact@miles4migrants.org or post here.
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Old Feb 10, 17, 2:14 pm
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I encourage you to create a signature that links to this post. That way, wherever you post on FlyerTalk, folks can learn about this very worthwhile program.

Many of us know what a challenge it is to find award space. Let's say I was willing to donate xx AA miles. Do you then do the work to find the award space and instruct me what to book? And what if there are significant fees associated with the award? I think I have to use my own credit card to pay for fees with any award booking. Can you walk us thru the logistics?
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Old Feb 10, 17, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
I encourage you to create a signature that links to this post. That way, wherever you post on FlyerTalk, folks can learn about this very worthwhile program.

Many of us know what a challenge it is to find award space. Let's say I was willing to donate xx AA miles. Do you then do the work to find the award space and instruct me what to book? And what if there are significant fees associated with the award? I think I have to use my own credit card to pay for fees with any award booking. Can you walk us thru the logistics?
I'm Seth, one of the cofounders. I'll walk you through our logistics. If you pledge miles through our google form it'll then be part of our internal searchable spreadsheet. We then get requests from partner NGOs for refugee family reunification cases and do our due diligence to determine best redemption and available award space, at which point we'll go to the spreadsheet to see what pledges are available.

When we find that our search can use your pledge we'll contact you and have you sign off on a nondisclosure agreement (to keep the personal information of the recipient private) and then either a) ask you to temporarily change your password and give us account access to book the tickets, or b) get on the phone with you and walk you through booking the tickets.

For taxes and fees (which we obviously try to minimize) you have the option of paying them yourself or having us pay them out of our monetary donation pool. If you donate to us the taxes/fees amount and have us actually pay them for the ticket you can take a tax deduction for the amount you donated, so many of our donors do that. If you only want to donate the miles and not pay anything in cash that is of course totally fine as well. If you pay the taxes/fees straight up you can actually not take a tax deduction on that amount per IRS rules. The miles themselves are not tax-deductible.

As you alluded to, AA requires you to use your own card to pay taxes/fees. AA is actually the only airline I know of that requires this, and we can get around that with "burner" single-use CC numbers I can auto-generate (and then put in your name) using privacy.com.

After the tickets are booked you will be apprised when the recipient has flown successfully and been reunified with their family. Sometimes you may be contacted afterward by the recipient as well, though they are under no obligation to do that.
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Old Feb 10, 17, 4:37 pm
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Can confirm sethuel1 is a co-founder. I am just the OP since he asked me to post in the forum and he could not post due to new account.

Just looked up signature rules. http://www.flyertalk.com/help/rules.php#signatures

Last edited by hiima; Feb 10, 17 at 5:05 pm
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Old Feb 10, 17, 4:48 pm
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Cool idea. Will spread the word.
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Old Feb 10, 17, 11:37 pm
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Originally Posted by hiima View Post
Can confirm sethuel1 is a co-founder. I am just the OP since he asked me to post in the forum and he could not post due to new account.

Just looked up signature rules. http://www.flyertalk.com/help/rules.php#signatures
Bah give me some credit, I've had an account over here for several years. I just don't post here much since I spend all of my free time moderating a certain subreddit (and, now, arranging refugee family reunion travel as well)
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Old Feb 10, 17, 11:45 pm
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Originally Posted by sethuel1 View Post
Bah give me some credit, I've had an account over here for several years. I just don't post here much since I spend all of my free time moderating a certain subreddit (and, now, arranging refugee family reunion travel as well)
I mean minimum posting requirements. Wasn't paying attention to how old your account was.
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Old Feb 11, 17, 2:02 pm
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I think this is a terrific idea, and I've done similar things sub rosa. But at the risk of being a big skunk at the picnic, I'd say this needs to be examined with reference to individual FF program T&Cs regarding gifting or transferring of miles.

Although it's with entirely different (and laudable) motives, this sounds a bit like a mile brokerage model, depending on how you handle the actual acquisition of the tickets. AFAIK, most (some? a few?) airlines won't let you donate miles except to their own designated recipient organizations. Transferring the custody (and not ownership - the airlines always own the miles) to a third party who then uses them to purchase tickets might be in violation of the T&Cs.

Now you could be a matchmaker who contacts the donors who've made pledges and have them acquire the tickets for the recipients, but that would eliminate the anonymity of the donors, and the donors would have to pay the fees and taxes themselves. You probably wouldn't be able to reimburse the members for this, and neither the value of the miles nor the taxes/fees would be tax deductible for the donor because it wasn't a 501c3 recipient. (The miles aren't deductible anyway since the T&Cs all say they have no cash value.)

Like I say, not trying to be a poop, but I'd check some of these things out, maybe with an anonymous phone call to a major FF program to see how they handle these kinds of requests. (You wouldn't have to mention refugees, you could ask about donating miles for families of sick kids, for example.)
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Old Feb 11, 17, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
I think this is a terrific idea, and I've done similar things sub rosa. But at the risk of being a big skunk at the picnic, I'd say this needs to be examined with reference to individual FF program T&Cs regarding gifting or transferring of miles.

Although it's with entirely different (and laudable) motives, this sounds a bit like a mile brokerage model, depending on how you handle the actual acquisition of the tickets. AFAIK, most (some? a few?) airlines won't let you donate miles except to their own designated recipient organizations. Transferring the custody (and not ownership - the airlines always own the miles) to a third party who then uses them to purchase tickets might be in violation of the T&Cs.

Now you could be a matchmaker who contacts the donors who've made pledges and have them acquire the tickets for the recipients, but that would eliminate the anonymity of the donors, and the donors would have to pay the fees and taxes themselves. You probably wouldn't be able to reimburse the members for this, and neither the value of the miles nor the taxes/fees would be tax deductible for the donor because it wasn't a 501c3 recipient. (The miles aren't deductible anyway since the T&Cs all say they have no cash value.)

Like I say, not trying to be a poop, but I'd check some of these things out, maybe with an anonymous phone call to a major FF program to see how they handle these kinds of requests. (You wouldn't have to mention refugees, you could ask about donating miles for families of sick kids, for example.)
As described above, we're essentially acting as the miles matchmaker. The donors do not have to pay the taxes and fees themselves, as Miles4Migrants can generate single use CC numbers for the transaction in the donor's name, thus we can pay for the taxes and fees while you use your miles to cover the bulk to the ticket.

The donors, if they want to take a tax deduction, can donate to Miles4Migrants in a given amount which may or may not correspond with the taxes owed on the ticket for which they have pledged miles.

We have future plans of being a chosen and vetted recipient of miles donations for various airlines, but we're starting on the matchmaker route in order to get things rolling first.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 11:37 pm
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Just a little update: we've reunited 5 families in the past week through our partnership with Together Now. We're now trying to make a few website changes and will then start getting the word out a little bit more intensely. We've also partnered with Abroaders, which has handled the "Home for the Holidays" frequent flyer mile donation campaign in recent years, to advise us on booking.

If you'd like to take part follow the links above. As I said before, we're making some website changes in the upcoming few weeks, so bear with us if you follow a link to miles4migrants.org and it gives you something weird instead of a functional website.

Thanks.

Seth
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Old Feb 24, 17, 9:45 pm
  #11
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Originally Posted by sethuel1 View Post
<snip>

The donors, if they want to take a tax deduction, can donate to Miles4Migrants in a given amount which may or may not correspond with the taxes owed on the ticket for which they have pledged miles.

We have future plans of being a chosen and vetted recipient of miles donations for various airlines, but we're starting on the matchmaker route in order to get things rolling first.
I'd be very cautious of telling anyone their donation is tax deductible; gifts of miles are never deductible in the USA (just as the IRS has agreed not to tax those who earn miles - miles won in contests, etc. are taxable.

Refer people to their accountant and steer clear of potential troubles.
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Old Feb 25, 17, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
I'd be very cautious of telling anyone their donation is tax deductible; gifts of miles are never deductible in the USA (just as the IRS has agreed not to tax those who earn miles - miles won in contests, etc. are taxable.

Refer people to their accountant and steer clear of potential troubles.
Once again, we only give donors a tax-deductibility letter if they make a financial contribution. I agree with you that miles donations are not tax-deductible
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Old Apr 29, 17, 9:26 am
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Another quick update: Miles4Migrants has flown several more cases, including our largest case, 5 Afghans from Pakistan (where their refugee camp was) to the UK, reuniting them with their father/husband. This case was flown using 100k pledged AA miles and about $400 in donations to cover taxes and fees.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by sethuel1 View Post
Another quick update: Miles4Migrants has flown several more cases, including our largest case, 5 Afghans from Pakistan (where their refugee camp was) to the UK, reuniting them with their father/husband. This case was flown using 100k pledged AA miles and about $400 in donations to cover taxes and fees.
That's fantastic. Well done to the donor and to your team who put together the flights.
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Old May 25, 17, 8:10 pm
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A little update from the Miles4Migrants project:

We have been reuniting families in earnest since February of this year. We have flown Afghans, Congolese, Eritreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians and Ukranians so far. We have removed children from active war zones. We have flown persecuted Christians to countries that allow them to practice their religion. We have taken families from refugee camps that their now-teenaged children were born in and sent them to real homes. It's pretty awesome, we think.

So far we have reunited 13 families and flown a total of 24 people. We also have 2 more itineraries booked for a total of 4 more people. After those 2 cases are flown, here is how our stats will look:

Total miles used: 424,120
Total money used: $1,635.04
Approximate cash value: $9,690.00
Approx CPP: 1.899
Total people flown: 28
Miles used per person: 15,147
Dollars used per person: $58.39
Cash value per person: $346.07

We have also updated our website and can now take donations, of both miles and money, into an integrated and customized backend donated to us by TMMData.

To those of you that have been waiting, there's more demand than ever and we're expanding. Come reunite a family with your miles (or pitch in $58.39 to cover taxes on our next case, or make us your Amazon Smile charity)

Thanks.

The Miles4Migrants Crew

Last edited by sethuel1; May 25, 17 at 8:19 pm
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