For the first time ever, time-share owners will be able to donate just their weekly usage to charity without giving up ownership of their properties.

It’s an all-new program created by Donate for a Cause, the same nonprofit that pioneered traditional time-share donation 10 years ago, a model that has helped them raise more than $3.5 million for a number of other charities.

“Until now, the rule of thumb for time-share usage has been to use it or lose it,” says Jim Tarpey, founder of Donate for a Cause. “Our new program will give owners and donors much more flexibility.”

To get the new venture off the ground, Donate for a Cause (DFC) partnered with Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The two charities agreed to run a pilot program in Hawaii where hundreds of time-share weeks go unused each year. It’s also where Make-A-Wish has its greatest need — approximately 800 children wish to go there every year with their families.

“The idea is phenomenal,” says Siana Hunt, CEO of Make-A-Wish Hawaii. “I’m absolutely thrilled with this unique way to make wishes come true for our wish kids and their families.”

Besides helping kids, the new program will also help timeshare owners as Donate for a Cause will issue tax receipts for the usage.

“If a time-share owner wants to make a huge difference in the life of a child with a life-threatening medical condition, this is a great way to do it,” Hunt says.

DFC is seeking time-share owners with Hawaii weeks as well as those with points at Wyndham, Hilton, Disney and Diamond, since those developments have multiple locations in Hawaii and their point systems allow owners to come from any of their other locations nationwide.

If enough owners donate their usage in Hawaii, the two charities will broaden the program to other parts of the country as well.

While DFC and its affiliate charities make money from the sale of traditional time-share donations, they won’t make any money on the new program since DFC isn’t selling the usage, just passing it on. It’s a move that could ultimately help the resorts themselves, since owners who can’t go on vacation in any given year would have an easy way to make their unused timeshare pay for itself.

“It’s an altruistic idea that will bring a lot of good to Make-A-Wish families as well as time-share owners,” Tarpey says.

Tarpey also hopes the new program will make more people aware of the original donation program, since time-share owners needlessly spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to get rid of unwanted properties.

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