Startup Weekend’s goal is to bring communities together and build and launch startups. One startup success story that came from a Startup Weekend in Calgary is Give A Mile, a platform where you can donate travel points to help enable “flights of compassion” to family members and friends of terminally ill patients.
Give A Mile launched the Million Mile Challenge Campaign in November to raise one million travel points by the end of the year. The Calgary-born startup received over 1.5 million miles in under two months.
Founder Kevin Crowe came up with the idea for Give A Mile after losing his friend Ryan Westerman to brain cancer years before. Ryan had friends and family throughout Canada visit him in the last few months of his life. Kevin had also heard about high numbers of travel points going unused as they expired, and he put the two together at Startup Weekend.
“I put that idea out to the crowd and it just caught an energy in the room that was crazy,” said Kevin. “We went through that weekend and vetted that idea and Monday we started Give A Mile.”
Give A Mile is a registered non-profit and gifted 77 trips across Canada and all over the world in 2014 alone. The organization works with the goal of “Tangible Outcomes”—donors can directly donate to specific stories and specific flights. Donors can also give cash towards flights. Give A Mile operates on a 100% donation model, where every dollar raised goes to making flights happen. The organization raises operational costs through corporate donations and special events.
As Give A Mile grew, registered as a non-profit, and started granting flights, Aeroplan heard about their efforts through social media and recognized the organization as a charity in their Beyond Miles program. This program makes it possible for donors to transfer their Aeroplan miles to Give A Mile for free. Aeroplan also matched the first 250,000 miles that Give A Mile raised for the Million Mile Challenge.
In addition, Give A Mile has partnered with American Express Canada and Payroll by Credit Card. They are also able to issue tax receipts for cash donations through the Place2Give Foundation.
After a big year which saw Give A Mile pass their 50-flight goal, win an award at the Startup Calgary Launch Party, and raise over a million miles in the last month, the organization is looking to give 150 flights and expand into other cities in Canada in the next year.