One of Kiva’s newest lending teams, milepoint, has caught our attention recently. As one Kiva lender stated, milepoint had a “stellar September” and should definitely be recognized for the team’s rapid growth in recent weeks! The team consists of frequent flyers and collectors of frequent flyer miles who came together earlier this year and have since made over 7,000 loans with $378,200 lent to borrowers across the globe. To learn more about this team, we spoke with Randy Petersen, one of the milepoint Team Captains, who talks about the team’s energy and enthusiasm shown in their extremely creative group and individual lending pledges. For instance, one member has pledged to make a Kiva loan for every person that follows him on Twitter and re-tweets one of his posts! Read more to learn about this team of flyers who are devoted to giving back to others.

Would you mind giving us a little background on the milepoint lending team? How did this team of frequent flyers come together?

Randy: Milepoint was launched on March 1st, 2011 as a place where everything you ever wanted to know about frequent flyer miles and points was there. It started with just two goals: 1) To be a friendly place for frequent flyers and, 2) to share and give back to others. From day one, milepoint adopted three charities of choice for a program we call "FlyForward": Kiva, LIVESTRONG and Susan G. Komen For The Cure. The team was formed from frequent flyers from around the world (one of the team captains is from Scandinavia) and 100% of the success can be attributed to having some very active and generous members in the team which have passed along their enthusiasm.

Milepoint has been one of the fastest growing lending teams Kiva has seen yet! After only seven months, the lending team has passed quarter million dollars in loans? Where did all this momentum come from?

Randy: Good question and as with any active teams, it honestly comes from the energy of the members themselves. We were lucky from our first few days to have a member of milepoint start the Kiva Lending Team and put into play how we might help others around the world. A few other members whose largess with the Kiva concept became attractive for others quickly adopted this effort. milepoint assisted in the initial growth by giving away two iPads, one to existing members of the Kiva Lending Team who helped bring new members to the team and another to new team members in a random draw. We also introduced the first Kiva-specific Avatars on milepoint and that brought a lot of new attention since a members Lending Team Avatar could be seen in other forums. As well, milepoint introduced a forum specifically for the Team and to date that forum has nearly 4,000 messages posted to it. But the members have created new interest with such ideas as the "million-dollar pledge drive." Likely much of the success is due to the general feeling that every loan counts equal to the others. I think that a new member being able to only donate a single loan of $25 is meant to feel equal to another member who over time has 100 loans. It is this mutual parity of helping others that makes this work. But the real secret lies in the word "team". While we have two captains, it really seems that we have nearly 400 of them and all members have had an equal share in making the team’s success. And we are now close to reaching a milestone of having lent $400,000 in just 7 months. Whew!

Several milepoint team members are now starting to make million dollar pledges - and some have also made other pledges for when the team reaches a certain total loan amount on Kiva. What are some of the other creative pledges you've seen recently?

Randy: This is yet another member initiative and we have already passed $80,000 in advance pledges with over 125 pledges in just the first month of this campaign and we hope to pass $100,000 by year’s end. The goal here is to not only focus on the here and now of helping others today with loans, but also to set out a plan to continue to help others far into the future and to engage our member support on an ongoing basis. While this started with pledges when the team reaches $1,000,000 in loans, there are now pledges when the team reaches $500,000 and even pledges starting at every $100,000 once the team reaches $300,000 (which it already has). All the pledges are remarkable and some are unique: one member pledged an extra loan when others pledged additional loans at $400,000 ... talk about a double-dip! As well, because we are a community of frequent flyers we were all totally impressed when the President of the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program joined and pledged $1,000 when the team reached $1,000,000 in loans. We love the fact that our efforts to help others catches the attention of even the frequent flyer programs. And several have pledged when the team pledges reach $100,000.

Considering how rapid this team has expanded thus far, I can only imagine what the future holds for the milepoint lending team! Are there any other goals on the horizon that we should know about?

Randy: Our future certainly looks bright since we've been careful to work on building a great foundation before trying to grow the team too much. Interestingly enough, one of our goals is to be a better part of the Kiva community and as such we have begun to form friendships with other teams such as Friends of Bob Harris and Late Loaning Lenders. If milepoint is to be known as the friendly place for frequent flyers, we want our team to be known as the friendly team for Kiva. We really have but one goal, and that is to be consistent with our support of Kiva. And given how easy it is to move on to other things, working on this single goal is an important one for us. After 7 months one might think that Kiva would have worn off, given the other charities that milepoint also supports, but in reality, the spirit in which the milepoint Kiva Lending Team was founded is as much alive today as it was 7 months ago.
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