Top Outdoor Organizations You Should Contribute To

By Alexandra Kahn

There are a variety of reasons people choose to donate their time and/or money to a cause. Sometimes it is required by school or work, sometimes it’s a cause that is close to your heart, sometimes you feel like you need to give back to the world, or maybe you just need some higher tax write-offs. Whatever the reason, we compiled a list of outdoor organizations that you can volunteer with or donate to. Organizations like these are the reasons we have the climbing areas, national parks, conservation lands and public lands that we have. They are the outdoor organizations fighting on behalf of the outdoor industry to save the land from development and sale. They are the organizations cleaning up the lands where we play; the organizations that inspire and educate the young minds of tomorrow so they too will appreciate and protect the land. They expose new people to nature, protect our water sources and wildlife, and keep climbing areas safe.

Access Fund

What is it about: Climbing policy and advocacy; land acquisition and protection; stewardship and conservation; risk management and landowner support; local support and mobilization; education

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How can you be involved: volunteer, apply for a loan to help save your local land, report an access issue, start a conservation project and apply for a grant to get it going (check out the guidelines for loans and grants on their website)

Membership: Yes

American Alpine Club

What is it about: Mountain Rescues; Conservation and Advocacy; Education; Conservation and Research Grants; Climbing and adventure grants

Location: Golden, CO

How can you be involved: Volunteer, donate, become a member

Membership: Yes

American Mountain Guides Association 

What is it about: The AMGA’s training courses, exams, and certifications are designed to certify you, the individual guide, with the skills necessary to effectively guide clients in Rock, Alpine, and/or Ski terrain. The International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) and the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) have endorsed the 400+ programs the AMGA runs each year, which opens the door for individuals with our certifications to work not only in the United States, but all around the world as well. Guide programs for rock, alpine and ski. Climbing Instructor program for Rock, Climbing Wall and Single Pitch

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How can you be involved: Donate or fund a scholarship

Membership: Yes

The American Safe Climbing Association

What is it about:  The ASCA is a bit of a misnomer, because climbing is (obviously) not a “safe” thing to do. Old deteriorating bolts are potential death traps even for experienced climbers, and the ASCA seeks to replace them with well camouflaged stainless steel bolts which will not rust, and are easily removable/replaceable in the future. No bolt is ever guaranteed, and trusting a bolt with your life is always a gamble.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How can you be involved: Volunteer to replace bolts, Donate money for ASCA to buy more bolts

Membership: No

Big City Mountaineers 

What is it about: Big City Mountaineers is an outdoor organization that instills critical life skills in under-resourced youth through transformative wilderness mentoring experiences.

Location: Golden, Colorado

How can you be involved: Volunteer or Donate

Membership: No

Climbing for Kids

What is it about: Climbing for Kids is a fundraising challenge that supports Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT), a nonprofit organization that gets at-risk and underserved youth out of the city and into the wild. BAWT is a project of the Earth Island Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation founded by environmental activist and climber David Brower. By joining Climbing For Kids, for every $1,000 you raise, an average of 17 youth will have the unique opportunity to enjoy the wilderness with experienced adult trip leaders and top-of-the-line outdoor gear. Best of all, you’ll be making a serious difference in the lives of Bay Area youth, many of whom have had little-sustained contact with the natural environment.

Location: Oakland, CA

How can you be involved: Donations or Fundraising

Membership: No

The Conservation Alliance

What is it about: The Conservation Alliance’s mission is to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. We are catalysts. Providing a link between the conservation community and the outdoor industry, we enable and inspire our colleagues to work together to protect the wild places vital to their business.

Location: Bend, OR

How can you be involved: Donate

Membership: Yes- individual or business

 Conservation Lands Foundation

What is it about: As the only nonprofit in the country solely dedicated to protecting the National Conservation Lands, our mission is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands through education, advocacy and partnerships.

Location: Durango, Colorado

How can you be involved: Donate (monthly, tribute gift, gift of stock, legacy gift) Campaign for the National Conservation Lands

Membership: No

Environmental Defense Fund

What is it about: The Environmental Defense Fund works together to stabilize the global climate, build defenses against extreme weather, ensure food security and abundant oceans, and reduce exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals.

Location: New York, New York

How can you be involved: Donation, Estate and Planned Gifts, Gifts of Securities, Donor Advised Funds, Contribute while you shop through AmazonSmile, Give through work with EarthShare

Membership: Yes

Leave No Trace

What is it about: The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people across the country every year. Their goals are: Leave No Trace in Every Park. Leave No Trace for Every Kid. Every person who ventures outside puts leave no trace practices into action.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How can you be involved: Volunteer

Membership: Yes

Outdoor Industry Association

What is it about: The Outdoor Industry Association is a membership-driven trade organization for the outdoor industry. In collaboration with our members, we are a force for the industry in recreation and trade policy, sustainable business innovation and increasing outdoor participation.

Location: Boulder, CO

How can you be involved: Involvement in Outdoor Foundation, Outdoor Nation, Donation

Membership: Yes


Sierra Club

What is it about: Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, we’ve made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy. Mission: To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Location: Oakland, CA

How can you be involved: Become a member, donate, fundraise, monthly donations

Membership: Yes

Women’s Wilderness Institute

What is it about: WWI aims to be a welcoming, safe place for people of all backgrounds and identities to explore the gifts of the wilderness.  They continually seek to improve their selection of courses in order to provide opportunities to anyone who has felt that they do not fit into mainstream “outdoor culture.” The programs are designed to be heart-centered, relational, collaborative adventures, while providing solid instruction in wilderness living, outdoor skills and backcountry safety.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

How can you be involved:  Donate, Volunteer

Membership: No

Peak Potential

What is it about: Peak Potential is a volunteer run non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with disabilities reach new heights. Established in 2000, Peak Potential now runs indoor programs 4 days a week at 3 different locations across New Jersey and an outdoor program.

Staffed by both climbers and non-climbers from the local community, Peak Potential’s indoor program is a 12 week introduction to rock climbing that exposes children to a sport that they normally would not have a chance to participate in. Participants who complete our introductory program and wish to continue climbing are welcome to apply for additional sessions in our indoor facilities or to join us outdoors.

Location: Fairfield, NJ

How can you be involved: Volenteer, Donation and Funraising

Membership: No

These are just a few of many outdoor organizations out there that you can contribute to! We hope that you remember to take a day or two to pick up a shovel, give a belay and/or helping hand this season to some of these incredible outdoor organizations . If you can’t volunteer please consider chucking a few bucks out of your wallet to donate to one of these causes. Each and every dollar goes a long way!

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