By Gordon Williams
What could be better for the American Red Cross, and those who benefit from its services, than a corporate partner whose donations support the organization’s humanitarian work? How about a corporate donor that not only gives money but helps transport Red Cross workers to where they are needed.
Alaska Airlines — based in Seattle — dates its history back to 1932 when it first began linking small towns in what was then the Territory of Alaska.
Alaska Airlines has been a long-time contributor to the Red Cross, “Alaska Airlines has been a partner of the American Red Cross for over a decade,” says Megan Snow, regional philanthropy officer for the Red Cross Northwest Region (Washington and North Idaho).
Snow says that beyond direct corporate donations, and personal contributions made by Alaska Airlines employees, “members of their leadership team serve on our King County Board of directors.
To learn more about Alaska Air’s philosophy of giving, we talked to Joelle Nausin, manager of community relations and investments. “We try to support the communities where we fly and the communities where our employees live,” she says. Many of those communities are in areas that are notorious for fires and floods and other events that require a Red Cross response.
We’re at the start of the 2022 wildfire season–with no reason to expect conditions to be better this year than in recent years. There were 1,750 wildfires in Washington in 2021, burning nearly 700,000 acres. That was a little better than in 2020, but devastating nonetheless.
In light of increasing disaster response efforts, Alaska Airlines has designated most of its support over the past few years to helping the Northwest be resourced and ready to respond through our Ready 365 program.
As Snow explains it, “The proactive contributions of our Ready 365 members help ensure we can provide help and hope to families after disasters big and small. The money is there, ready to mobilize a Red Cross response the moment disaster strikes.”
Alaska Airlines also offers miles as a currency for Mileage Plan Members to donate, to help get Red Cross responders to a disaster scene. According to Nausin, Alaska Airlines collects and donates 1 million miles to the Red Cross each year, and in some years Alaska donates additional miles for specific disaster response.
Snow says receiving all those miles, “Saves the Red Cross thousands in travel costs each year.”
And then there are special donations when a major disaster strikes. Case in point was Hurricane Harvey–the storm that flooded Houston in 2017. The Red Cross had hundreds of relief workers on the scene, and the financial cost was staggering.
Because Alaska Airlines counts Houston as one of its home communities, it was quick to donate in support of Red Cross relief efforts there. When hurricane Irma hit Florida a few days later, Alaska Air doubled down on its giving.
Corporate partners like Alaska Airlines are critical to the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross.