Branch Support Donation Program Continues in FY2024

While unrestricted giving is critical to grow our mission impact across all program areas, some members seek to leverage donations to strengthen the community within their local Branch. We will be continuing the Branch support program in Fiscal Year 2024, maintaining the primary intent of the program, while modifying a few details.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
November 08, 2023
Branch Support Donation Program Continues in FY2024
Bellingham Mountaineers participate in a Basic Snow Travel Course. Photo by Luke Hollister.

While unrestricted giving is critical to grow our mission impact across all program areas, some members seek to leverage donations to strengthen the community within their local Branch. One of our strategic goals is to deepen our culture of giving back by providing new opportunities to contribute. 

In October 2021 we launched a pilot program to allow donors to designate their donations to a specific Branch of The Mountaineers. This pilot program created a framework to test the processes and impact of these donations; the pilot was extended, unchanged, into a second year in Fiscal Year 2023 (from October 2022 to September 2023). We will be continuing the Branch support program in Fiscal Year 2024, maintaining the primary intent of the program, while modifying a few details, mainly how the program is administered.

The spirit of generosity cultivated by our volunteer community empowers us to achieve our most ambitious objectives. Our ability to advance our strategic plan will rely on an engaged membership, celebration of volunteerism, and philanthropic investment from those inspired to do so. To respond to our members’ desire to facilitate unique projects and protect the future of outdoor education, we will create specific opportunities for donors to make transformational contributions that support our ability to lead, engage, and advocate. 

“Engage: Goal 3”
Adventure with Purpose
Mountaineers Strategic Plan

Continuing the Branch Support Program in FY2024

In Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024), donors may continue to direct their gifts to support a specific Branch community with investments in courses, volunteer recognition, or leadership development. Branch leadership, working with activity committee leaders, decides how best to spend donations, and should do so in the same fiscal year that the donations are received (The Mountaineers fiscal year runs from October through September). As in prior years under the Branch Support Program, donors are not able to direct a gift to a specific committee. And to avoid a conflict of interest in who benefits from funds raised, the donor may not be the decider for how their donation is spent. If a donor would like to discuss a more specific impact they’d like to make with a major gift, and it aligns with a strategic need of the organization, please reach out to the Development team. 

Changes to Branch Support Program in FY2024

In an effort to improve clarity, financial integrity, and strategic investment, in FY2024 we are rolling out some provisional updates to the program and will continue to monitor the impact of donations in support of Branches in the coming years. 

Provisional updates in FY2024:

  • Simplify the process by allowing 100% of donated funds to be spent on strategic investments in the Branch or apply to their budgeted contribution margin. Formerly, 60% of funds were available for unbudgeted spending and 40% covered expenses shared by all Branches. Shared services will still be considered as part of the branch’s contribution margin. 
  • Clarify spending guidelines and the responsibilities of Branch leadership in decision-making. 
  • Adjust the accounting process to be more transparent and to ensure that Branch results will not be impacted by the spending funded by Branch donations.
  • Designate unused donated funds to be a component of the Branch contribution margin at the end of the fiscal year, September 30.

What happens when I donate to my Branch?

First of all, you should let us know! Adding a note alongside your donation ensures that it is designated appropriately. You can also email with your intention to support your Branch. 

The Branch Chair and Treasurer are alerted of new donations on a monthly basis and are encouraged to work with other branch leaders, such as activity committees, to determine how your donation will best support the branch’s goals and impact. Branches are empowered to set up their own process or guiding principles for spending decisions. That process should allow for branch members to generate and propose ideas, ensure oversight, mitigate potential conflict of interest, and build trust and transparency across the Branch. 

Branch donations may be used to support courses, volunteer recognition, and leadership development, and must be spent within the same fiscal year they are received. On October 1, any unspent funds are applied to the branch contribution margin.

What will donations to my branch support?

As a 501(c)(3), donations are intended to support the mission impact of The Mountaineers and the strategic priorities outlined in our current Strategic Plan: Adventure with Purpose. Branch donations are intended to support Branch and volunteer development and Branch-driven programs and may include:

  • Gear and equipment purchases necessary to run courses
  • Leadership development training for volunteers
  • Recognition for a group of volunteers with clear description why that group was selected
  • Stewardship efforts
  • Offsetting revenue shortfall by applying to the Branch contribution margin
  • Any purpose subsequently authorized by the organization 

Donations should not be used by the Branch to provide an outsized benefit for one or few people with individual gear or financial aid for course participants (scholarships). If scholarships are needed, the Mountaineers Access Program Fund is available. Donations may also not be used on any expenditure that would impact The Mountaineers nonprofit status. 

Read about the creative ways that Everett, Foothills, and Olympia used donated funds in FY2022.

Can I decide how my contribution is spent?

It is up to Branch leadership to decide how best to invest donated funds to support the Branch. Leaders may consider the donor or volunteer’s interests and ideas, input from other Branch leaders such as activity committees, and may consider other voices and ideas as well. The best way to give input is by writing down your ideas and sharing them with the Branch Chair and any other relevant volunteer leaders. 

For donations of $5,000 or more, you may propose a gift agreement with the Director of Development to outline specific spending aligned with strategic needs. Unbudgeted spending for a single purchase above $5,000 requires CEO approval and above $10,000 requires Board approval.

Can I support my activity or committee?

Branch donations are tracked and administered at the Branch level. We are not able to further restrict donations to a specific activity or committee, but activity committees are encouraged to help Branch leadership better understand the needs of their volunteers and committees. Philanthropic support can be used within particular committees or courses or across all committees, at the discretion of Branch leadership.

What if I have ideas for how donations can benefit my branch, but don’t have the capacity to give?

Any member can suggest ways to strengthen their local branch community by reaching out to their Branch Chair. Branches are expected to spend discretionary funds in the same fiscal year, so it is good for them to have some ideas on hand if they receive any last-minute donations in August or September. 

How can I have the most impact with my donations?

Unrestricted donations to the annual fund support Mountaineers mission priorities across all activities, branches, outdoor centers, and programs. A gift to our annual fund provides the most flexibility to respond to opportunities and challenges as they arise and to invest in the parts of our community that need it most.

The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions. Our staff work to support our seven branches (Bellingham, Everett, Foothills, Kitsap, Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma), three lodges (Baker, Meany, and Stevens), and our Kitsap Forest Theater. Tax ID: 27-3009280. 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

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