60 Seconds With Daniel Liss, Columbia College Alumni Affairs Representative

60 Seconds With Daniel Liss, Columbia College Alumni Affairs Representative

Columbia College Alumni Affairs Representative, Daniel Liss, has created a program that allows alumni and parents to donate frequent flyer miles to students in need of financial assistance to travel for emergencies or as part of a study abroad program.

InsideFlyer
What made you think of asking for frequent flyer miles donations to help fellow students?
Daniel Liss
We saw that there is often a strong need by students facing emergencies to travel on short notice. For example, if a student’s father or mother passes away and they need to return home. This kind of travel is extremely difficult for students to afford, not only because the ticket needs to be purchased very abruptly, but because the student hasn’t been able to budget for the ticket and is likely already stretched from tuition payments. We really wanted to help students in these circumstances and realized frequent flyer donations might fill that gap.

IF
How does the program work?
Liss
There are basically three components to the fund. We need to reach out to donors in the alumni and parent community, manage the miles internally at Columbia and administer the donations to students in need. Several offices at the University have offered to help us with each step, so there is a whole coalition trying to get the fund off the ground.

IF
What kind of response have you received?
Liss
We have received highly positive support from the administration and from the alumni community. Administrators are excited to work to help the student body, and both alumni and parents are excited to have a new way to support students in need.

IF
How do you identify who could use the miles?
Liss
Our top priority is to help students experiencing emergency situations. Columbia’s Office of Global Programs has offered to manage an expedited application process for students in these kinds of situations to reach out and seek support. The Office of Global Programs has also offered to help us give the flights to students who are experiencing severe financial difficulty. These two situations represent our top priorities for the fund.

IF
Do you belong to frequent flyer programs? If so, which programs are your favorites?
Liss
I’ve been pleased with several of the programs. I’ve had great experiences with American, Delta and United.

IF
Have you contacted any of the airlines directly to explain your program and ask for their help? If yes, what has the response been?
Liss
We could actually still use some help on this end. In order to make the program as successful as possible, we need airlines to recognize us as a charity, or at least waive the regular transfer fees. Many airlines already support programs that are similar to ours, but we could really use help cutting through the red tape on this.

IF
How are you getting the word out about the program to potential donors?
Liss
We are working with the experts at the Columbia Alumni Affairs Office. We are trying to involve as many students, alumni and parents to let people know about the project. We are interested to use email and social media to help spread the word.

IF
How should someone contact you if they wish to donate miles?
Liss
My email is dnl2114@columbia.edu. I would be happy to help anyone interested in supporting the program.

2 of 32

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *