Southwest rewards volunteering employees with Tickets 4 Time

Southwest Airlines’ ‘Share the Spirit’ program encourages employees to embrace local charities and nonprofits in every destination across the carrier’s network. To pay tribute to its employee volunteers, Southwest Airlines is introducing a new program called ‘Tickets for Time’ (T4T). The T4T program is an addition to the Share the Spirit program and provides one complimentary, roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines for fund-raising or transportation needs for every 40 hours a Southwest volunteer dedicated to an organization. A nonprofit organization may receive up to six tickets a year through T4T and the hours can be accrued by one or more volunteers. 

T4T puts a nice twist on corporate volunteering programs, since rather than simply match donations, Southwest is offering their employees the opportunity to earn tickets for nonprofit organizations of their choosing. In Southwest’s words: “We know that our employees do so much for so many organizations and T4T is a great way for Southwest to applaud and encourage employee volunteerism.” Last year Southwest staff collectively volunteered more than 35,000 hours to nonprofit organizations across the country, about one volunteer hour to every Southwest employee. 

Southwest’s initiative is part of a growing trend which sees companies rewarding employees, customers or the general public for their volunteering efforts. In July 2009, Virgin Mobile USA gave away 35,000 tickets to its annual FreeFest music festival. Music fans could sign up to volunteer at designated homeless youth shelters around the country for a VIP ticket to the festival which took place near Washington DC. Furthermore, sister-brand Virgin America dubbed one of their flights the ‘FreeFest Express’ and transported 40 do-gooders and their guests from Los Angeles to Washington DC to attend the festival. The volunteers had each donated at least 12 hours of time to StandUp For Kids, a homeless youth outreach organization in Southern California, and were then entered into a contest to win the free flight, a two-night hotel stay and VIP tickets to the festival. 

Update 10 March 2010: A few weeks after the launch of Southwest’s Tickets for Time  program, the airline distributed the first set of complimentary, roundtrip tickets to the first non-profit organization: Light House Shelter of Annapolis. The hours were volunteered by four local Southwest Airline employees which recently collected over 500 men, women and children’s coats donated by Southwest employees from across the country. The shelter decided it wouldn’t use the actual tickets it will be receiving, but use them as a raffle at a benefit event, so the money raised will be going directly to the shelter.

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