Friday, May 14, 2010

United Airlines Makes Philanthropic Connections

United Airlines uses the theme of "connections" as their corporate philanthropic signature. They have certainly helped me make a lot of connections from the San Francisco area to cities all over the country and the world and the image of making connections is an apt one for an airline's philanthropic programs. While my goal here is not to comment on how great my experience with an airline has been, I am impressed by what I read in their Hemispheres Magazine about the variety of ways they are using connections to help out with local and global causes.

Making connections for Haitian relief
In spite of the fact that United does not serve Port au Prince, when Tanya Jackson, the president of United Airlines Foundation returned from a trip to Haiti, it was obvious that United had to donate their resources in planes, equipment and personnel, to help with flying in necessary supplies and relief workers. United also partnered with The US Customs to help bring in orphans, where United employees often accompanied them to their final US destinations. United also provided transportation to Haitian injured children in need of medical treatment in the US. United efforts needed to be coordinated with corporate and nonprofit partners as well as making by making the connections with the US military overseeing relief flight schedules.

Connecting customers,employees, and even kids to fight hunger
Now that airlines have to provide food service by selling meals in boxes,United has come up with a creative idea for raising funds for the national organization Feeding America. Every dollar from the purchased snackboxes, titled "Eat for Good" goes towards fighting hunger. The colorful snackboxes were designed by a student participant from another partner program in the Chicago area, After School Matters.

Connecting teddy bears with kids
United customers can donate dollars or frequent flier miles, charity miles to the American Cancer Society which will have teddy bears delivered to children undergoing medical treatment through their Hugyou Family Teddy Bear Program.

Connecting employees with community
United Airlines continues its support of local community causes through employee charity walks and donation drives.

United uses "connections" as a unifying theme and image for their corporate philanthropy and branding that helps them integrate their programs as well convey a unified story to their customers and employees.  

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