Impact Giving: How Philanthropy Supports Mountaineers Books

In this month's edition of our Impact Giving series, we celebrate 60 years of Mountaineers Books and discuss what it means to be a nonprofit publisher. Learn how philanthropy expands the life-changing and landscape-saving impacts that great books have on our world.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 01, 2020

Six months ago we began this Impact Giving series as a way to feature the many ways philanthropy makes a difference for The Mountaineers. This month, we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of Mountaineers Books and how philanthropy expands the impact one book can have on an individual, a classroom, a community, and the world. 

In true Mountaineers fashion, our flagship title Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (lovingly referred to as Freedom) was published 60 years ago this month, and made possible through volunteer efforts and their spirit of giving back to our outdoor community. 

At the time, our volunteers wanted to capture the collective skills and knowledge of Mountaineers courses to explore and climb safely. The overwhelming demand for what would become our flagship title blew our expectations away, selling out in under a year instead of 5-years as projected. Freedom generated enough proceeds to set up a dedicated publication fund, which went on to support early influential titles such as The North Cascades and 100 Hikes in Western Washington and officially launched Mountaineers Books.

Over an impressive history, Mountaineers Books has been credited with introducing more people to the safe and responsible enjoyment of the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest and beyond than any other outdoor publishing house. Mountaineers publications open the public’s eye to the natural beauty of our region and beyond, and encourage readers to become advocates to protect public lands for generations to come.

Today, Mountaineers Books reaches millions of readers around the world. With over 650 titles in print, and thirty new books published every year, Mountaineers Books is THE preeminent nonprofit publisher of mountaineering skills, histories and biographies, conservation titles, adventure narratives, natural history, and outdoor guidebooks in the world. Book sales continue to support a wide range of publications and the participation of donors enhances our ability to change lives through books, and in some cases, the direction of history.

Publishing as a mission-based nonprofit

As a nonprofit publisher, book sales alone are not enough to achieve our ambitions to change the world, and we find strength in our 501(c)(3) status and the donors who help us to accomplish our dreams. In order to maximize our mission and impact, Mountaineers Books relies on book sales to achieve 90-95% of our annual budget. Charitable contributions make up the remaining 5-10% of revenue; the majority of these funds are restricted gifts to specific Mountaineers Books publications and programs. 

Your support allows us to champion emerging authors and capture the history and stories of the small but passionate mountain community that would otherwise go unpublished. You help us to deliver books directly to community and education services such as K-12 classrooms, Search & Rescue teams, and community libraries. Thanks to you, charitable contributions  provide the flexibility to respond to dynamic opportunities and publish books that open up perspectives and inspire individuals to act to protect wild, public lands, and species under threat. And, your support enables us to create our books in an environmentally sustainable way. 

As we celebrate 60 years of Mountaineers Books history as an independent, mission-driven, nonprofit publisher, donations expand our reach and  impact even further today.  Our goal is to engage longtime enthusiasts as well as introduce new audiences—particularly young kids and families—to the great outdoors and philanthropy makes all of that possible.

Philanthropic Funding Model: Mountaineers Books and Braided River

The Mountaineers and Mountaineers Books focus fundraising in two ways to build resources in support of this effort. Not only do we seek and receive gifts restricted in support of Mountaineers Books, many donors choose to directly support our conservation imprint Braided River as well. How does that work? While Braided River is it’s own 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to conservation books and programs, it is intimately linked with The Mountaineers mission.

Donations to Braided River directly support our conservation specific titles, brilliant photography books that lead to multimedia presentations and exhibitions, and partnerships with like-minded grassroots groups working together to protect western North America's remaining public lands and wild places. This year all four new Braided River titles received a Nautilus Award, one of the most prestigious awards offered worldwide in the genre of social and environmental justice. All four titles also won an Independent Book Publisher Award in recognition of their courage, innovation, creativity, and ability to bring about change in the world of publishing.

Whether you make a gift directed to Mountaineers Books or Braided River, your donations are invested in stories that connect people to the transformative power of the outdoor experience. In 2019, the combined efforts of Braided River and Mountaineers Books fundraising contributed over $250,000 toward telling these meaningful stories.

Mountaineers Books Promote Positive Social Change

Our donors believe that time spent in nature contributes to happier and healthier lives, and when people experience a strong connection to our natural landscapes, they are driven to champion its preservation. Donors support Mountaineers Books because:

  • Through placed-based storytelling, our books lead readers to the lessons and pleasures of the great outdoors.
  • Our books promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle and sharing experiences with others to build strong bonds and a sense of shared community and purpose.  
  • Our award-winning conservation titles bring the wild to the reader, offering insight into the interconnectedness of nature through images and stories of places they might never have the chance to see firsthand. 
  • We publish underrepresented stories not just to share the story, but to support readers from all backgrounds with opportunities to see themselves in the outdoors.
  • Through our books we get people and families outside, become inspired, and return home with a desire to live more sustainably and protect the places we come to love.

A Book is Just the Beginning

Mountaineers Books influences experienced adventurers and those who are just dipping a toe into the outdoors; parents ready to introduce their kids to wilderness and educators who seek to teach sound practices; climbers, paddlers, hikers, cyclists, trekkers, bird lovers, gardeners, and nature lovers of all stripes. Whether our readers experience an urban oasis, remote wilderness, stretch of water, mountain peak, or simply a story that offers an armchair adventure, we know that once connected, they will continue to be engaged on many levels. 

When a reader picks up a book, it is often the first step on a journey with a lifetime of impact, and charitable donations in support of publishing help us to make that journey possible. Has a Mountaineers Books made a difference in your life? We’d love to hear about your journey with your favorite story. Please reach out to us at development@mountaineers.org.

This edition of Impact Giving is a part of our online series. For more information about how philanthropy makes a difference, check out our previous blogs:

  1. Why is Earned Revenue Not Enough? 
  2. An Insiders Look on Scholarships
  3. How Year End Appeals Support The Mountaineers
  4. Planning your Legacy with The Mountaineers Summit Society
  5. How Fundraising Events Support The Mountaineers
  6. Peak Society Takes Us to New Heights

PHOTO BY WEB CHANG.

Consider a gift in honor of Mountaineers Books 60th Anniversary. A gift to Mountaineers Books today ensures our publishing efforts will continue for generations to come.

  • Your annual gift of $1,000 or more in support of Mountaineers Books welcomes you into Peak Society, the leadership giving-circle of The Mountaineers. 
  • Consider planning for the future of Mountaineers Books by leaving a bequest in your will or estate. To learn more legacy giving please reach out to us at development@mountaineers.org. 
  • Contribute to the Braided River Rapid Response: Braided River is the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books and has a fund set up that specifically supports place-based storytelling when conservation threats arise and fast action is required.