#55 – Solving a Global Crisis: Reuniting Displaced Families Worldwide using Donated Airline Miles

with Andy Freedman, Co-Founder of Miles4Migrants

55 - Andy Freedman

Andy Freedman is the co-founder and managing director of Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit that uses donated airline miles to unite separated refugees and immigrant families.

Since its inception in 2016, Miles4Migrants has flown over 1,800 people, reunited 600+ families, and redeemed over 27 million frequent flyer miles, the equivalent of over $700,000 in cash value. In 2019 alone, they’ve flown nearly 400 individuals internationally, and with the worsening of the U.S. border crisis this last year, they’ve flown over 700 individuals within the United States.

They certainly are not slowing the pace, as they’ve recently partnered with United Airlines for a Miles on a Mission campaign, where they were tasked with raising 5 million frequent flyer miles in 28 days. As of November 15, they hit that goal. 

What’s incredibly valuable about Andy and Miles4Migrants’ story is the power of volunteerism and how it really takes a village. Andy and his two co-founders all currently volunteer their time to manage their organization. All work day jobs and are actively engaged husbands and fathers in addition to running this organization. While they finally were able to hire paid staff this year, they also relied on the power and passion of volunteers in a rapid period of growth after a tweet mentioning their work went viral last year. Learning more about how this organization was run without paid staff for several years is inspirational for those just starting up.

There are two fascinating topics of conversation in this episode. The first is the opportunity to learn and understand more about the needs of these refugees and asylum seekers. In efforts to put into perspective how impactful a small action like these airline miles can be in making such a significant life-changing impact. On the other side, following the trajectory of Miles4Migrants can help you visualize the process of identifying a problem in a population you’d like to serve and taking it from an idea to a full-blown execution.

Want more episodes on innovative companies addressing global issues? Listen to:

Whatever the passion is, there is a need for smart people to be thinking about these massive problems. Do not try to solve the entire problem because you will fail miserably. There are reasons they are massive. Find a piece of the problem that you think you are best suited to help, and start there.” –Andy Freedman

Co-Founder Freedman with a few Miles4Migrants team members and volunteers

Topics Discussed: 

  • How Miles4Migrants came to be, and is now making such a large impact
  • How nonprofits can use the power of strategic partnerships
  • Some insightful advice for those looking to transition into the nonprofit space

Links from the Episode:

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