Looking for unique holiday gifts or end of year ways to be charitable? If you’re an outdoor adventurer one of the most important things you can do is give back to the national and local organizations that support our trails, promote outdoor stewardship, and conserve our wild places.
Below is a list of 18 organizations (6 national and 12 local to Washington State) that you should consider putting on your holiday donation list. This list is only a guide—there are many amazing organizations out there to support. If you have a favorite group or suggestions for ones to add, make a comment and share! Keep in mind that many employers, like Microsoft, offer donation matching, which can really make your giving go a long way!
Happy holidays and happy giving!
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, raises private funds that directly aid, support, and enrich America’s over 400 national parks and their programs.
The Sierra Club
Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. They protect millions of acres of wilderness and have helped pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.
Outward Bound is the leading provider of experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults. With approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year, Outward Bound programs aim to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions in the outdoors.
Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.
National Audubon Society
Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.
Washington State Organizations
Washington State Animal Response Team
I volunteer with WASART, a 501(c)(3) non-profit all-volunteer organization that helps companion animals and livestock out of immediate crisis and dangerous situations, so naturally they’re one of my favorite Washington State organizations to support! If your horse falls into a well, your dog falls over a cliff, your cow gets stuck in a barn wall, or your community needs help sheltering animals for short-term issues such as threat of fire, WASART is trained to help out in these situations.
King County Search and Rescue
Even the most experienced and well-prepared outdoor adventurers can have an accident, a lapse in judgement, or simply make a mistake. Having a volunteer group of search and rescue folks who are willing to help anyone no matter the circumstance is simply amazing! If you go outdoors at all I highly recommend supporting your local search and rescue team. You never know when you may need their services. King County SAR includes 8 different skill based units.
Mountains to Sound Greenway
The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust was founded to keep the natural lands along interstate 90 between Seattle and Central Washington a connected, multi-purpose Greenway.
North Cascades Institute
The North Cascades Institute seeks to inspire closer relationships with nature through direct experiences in the natural world. Their goal is to help people of all ages experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and they offer youth summer adventures, natural and cultural history retreats, mountain school residencies for students, family getaway weekends and numerous community events.
Northwest Avalanche Center
The Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) is a collaborative effort between the US Forest Service Northwest Avalanche Center and the non-profit Northwest Avalanche Center. Their mission is to save lives and reduce the impact of avalanches by offering avalanche forecasting, data collection and education. If you do any winter activities in the Northwest you should support NWAC!
Conservation Northwest protects and connects old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to the BC Rockies: vital to a healthy future for us, our children, and wildlife. They recently helped to re-introduce fishers back into the wilds of the South Cascades.
Evergreen MTB Alliance
Evergreen is THE voice of Washington’s Mountain Bike community. They provide thousands of volunteer hours to build and maintain trails and continually advocate for new trail access and opportunities. They are directly responsible for the trail improvements at Tiger Mountain as well as the Colonnade park under I-5 and King County’s Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah.
Northwest Wilderness Programs
If you’ve never visited the fantastic Goldmyer Hot Springs deep in the Middle Fork Valley outside North Bend, WA, you really should! The Springs is owned and operated by Northwest Wilderness Programs, a Washington State nonprofit organization established in 1976. Their goal is to preserve the hot springs and surrounding ancient forest ecosystem for educational, spiritual, recreational, and research purposes.
Washington Trails Association
If you go outdoors at all in the Northwest you’ve likely heard of the Washington Trails Association (WTA), the nation’s largest state-based hiking nonprofit organization. The WTA protects hiking trails and wildlands, helps maintain trails, and offers fantastic trips reports, “find a hike” guides, and relevant outdoor information on its website.
Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest
The Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest is a nonprofit conservation organization headquartered in Duvall Washington that is dedicated to the recovery and conservation of the region’s wild-fish ecosystems. You can’t live in the Northwest without supporting our fish!
Ahhhh, the beautiful Methow Valley! If you haven’t been you should and if you have been you know that the Methow Trails Association is one big reason the Valley is so fantastic! Through world-class sport trails, they connect people to the special nature of the Methow Valley and support community vitality. Their trail system includes over 120 miles of cross-country ski trails in the winter months, and is recognized as one of the finest trail systems in North America for Nordic skiing, mountain biking, trail running and hiking.
Methow Headwaters Campaign
If you love the beautiful Methow Valley area of Washington State, consider supporting the Methow Headwaters Campaign. They are working to stop a Canadian mining company from pursuing approval for exploratory drilling, which could lead to an industrial-scale mine in the headwaters of the Methow River.