Impact Giving | How To Support Your Branch or Lodge Through Charitable Donations

It’s a new fiscal year at The Mountaineers! In this month's edition of Impact Giving, we share highlights on restricted giving and preview how Mountaineers members can support their branches through charitable giving.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
October 30, 2021

After a rollercoaster of a year and a half, we are looking to the year ahead with cautious excitement. For fiscal year 2022, The Mountaineers Board of Directors have approved a high-confidence operating budget of $9.785M to provide the vital support needed to educate and engage the next generation of recreationists and conservationists.

The revenue that informs our budget projections arrives through a combined impact of membership dues, course and seminar fees, book sales, event sales, and facility rentals, as well as $1.458M in charitable gifts. In this edition of “Impact Giving,” we’ll peek inside restricted giving options at The Mountaineers and share how members can make a difference in their local communities. 

The Big Picture

Since we became a 501(c)(3) 10 years ago, Mountaineers philanthropy has grown from $112K in its initial year to today’s annual goal of $1.458M. Our budget relies significantly on unrestricted giving to not only enhance the infrastructure of our organization, but to fuel mission-driven initiatives informed by our strategic vision.  

The fiscal year 2022 operating budget is built to elevate our mission delivery across two divisions, six teaching and gathering places, seven branches, and hundreds of committees across the Pacific Northwest, and also covers the cost of shared services that make it all possible. These shared services include property operations, liability insurance, website and IT, staff, program expenses, membership services, and beyond, and are critical to helping The Mountaineers thrive financially. Because expenses for these support services are shared across all programs and branches, the cost is lower than it would otherwise be if each branch and department had to resource them on their own. In short, we're stronger and more efficient when we operate as a unified Mountaineers organization.

Unrestricted Support Empowers our Strategic Vision

Gifts made to The Mountaineers Annual Fund are the most powerful type of gift, because they provide the flexibility and agility required to fund high-priority, mission-driven initiatives that meet the needs of our community. Some of the ways we leverage unrestricted donations are by investing in volunteer leadership development and progression, conservation and advocacy, equity and inclusion, improvements to teaching and gathering places, and much more. Unrestricted gifts, which tallied over $815,000 in fiscal year 2021, also help our organization sustain its most vital operations when faced with unprecedented financial stressors like COVID-19.

Restricted Giving Highlights

While The Mountaineers deeply appreciates the importance of unrestricted giving in ensuring the financial health of our most impactful organization-wide programs, we also offer opportunities for donors to support specific mission-driven initiatives that are important to them. To accomplish this, our fundraising and accounting teams work together to maintain restricted funds that align with our strategic plans and capabilities. These key initiatives are mission areas that we also prioritize with unrestricted funding. 

The Mountaineers have established four areas of investment as centralized restricted accounts, which support efforts across all branches and program areas:

  • Youth Programs: provides critical resources for ongoing and expanded programming for our Mountain Workshops program, which primarily serves youth who have been historically excluded from outdoor education and recreation.
  • Mountaineers Access Program (MAP): provides need-based scholarships to youth, adults, and families to reduce outdoor access barriers across our seven branches and four outdoor centers, so that no one is left behind when pursuing their outdoor dreams.
  • Conservation: funds over 75% of our Conservation and Advocacy Program, and helps us to create interactive online courses such as Public Lands 101 and Low Impact Recreation, which teach environmental citizenship to our 14,000-person membership base and beyond. 
  • Mountaineers Books: allows us to champion emerging authors, capture the history and stories with ambitious titles that may otherwise go unpublished, and produce books in an environmentally sustainable way even when it costs more to do so. 

In addition to these centralized investment areas, donors also have the opportunity to direct gifts to branches and outdoor centers like our lodges. 

Support your Branch or Lodge

Many Mountaineers members ask if there is a way they can direct their gifts to their branch or lodge as a way to give back to their local communities. While it’s important to remember that unrestricted gifts support strategic investments and shared services that make a difference for ALL branches, outdoor centers, and program areas, the answer is yes! We continue to evolve the ways in which charitable contributions can directly support branches and lodges.

How do you direct a gift? It all starts with letting us know.  

When you make a gift online, the best way to communicate a restriction is to include a note that describes what strategic area, branch, or lodge you’d like to support. This triggers an email directly to our development staff who will follow up with an acknowledgment of your gift. If your acknowledgment does not clarify that we’ve directed your gift in the way you intended, it means that we may not have received that message. It’s easy for us to make the change as long as you let us know as soon as possible. While we cannot make changes to previous fiscal years, we can make adjustments in the same accounting period. 

Gifts directed to individual branches or lodges can be accepted at any time and are utilized to provide important infrastructure and support for volunteers, such as the shared services discussed earlier. Donations to branches and lodges also help fund specific priorities such as leadership development, volunteer recognition, and conservation and advocacy. 

It is important to know that from an accounting standpoint, gifts can only be directed to a branch or lodge at the highest level and we are not able to restrict gifts at the committee level. As annual donations continue to grow each year, we’ve also continued to evolve the branch donation program. New in fiscal year 2022, branch chairs and treasurers are participating in a pilot program that allows more flexibility in how philanthropy can be invested in the branch. As part of this pilot, branches can earmark 60% of philanthropic funds restricted to their branch to purchase gear and equipment needed for courses, or to provide recognition and leadership development training for volunteers. The remaining 40% will support the branches’ shared service expenses that help to make volunteer jobs easier. 

Volunteers make all the difference

The power of matching gift programs continues to amaze us, and nearly 90% of branch and lodge-restricted gifts arrive through employee giving programs. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides matching, we hope you’ll join us in thanking your employers for promoting healthy living through volunteer programs that double your impact by providing matching funds to the nonprofits you support. 

Pro tip: When you’re ready to submit your charitable gift or volunteer hours to take advantage of this program, using our Tax ID (27-3009280) is especially important for companies with online-based verification systems. Some volunteers have shared that it can be tricky to find “The Mountaineers” as other organizations or groups with similar names may be listed. By using our Tax ID, you ensure that your gift will be directed to our organization. 

Even if a matching gift program is not available to you, volunteering your time is always a meaningful way to directly support your branch and share your experience and knowledge with someone who is learning new outdoor skills. The benefits of hands-on volunteering pays off personally as well, providing rewarding ways to make connections, develop lifelong friendships, and find adventure partners. In addition to the satisfaction you might feel from helping community members connect with the great outdoors, you're also strengthening the organization's ability to deliver volunteer-led courses and programs, which ultimately protects our financial viability. A win-win!

Cultivating a Culture of Philanthropy

Philanthropy furthers our mission in ways that we cannot achieve through earned revenue alone, and empowers The Mountaineers to invest in volunteers and infrastructure, improve outdoor education experiences, provide scholarships and equipment to individuals facing financial barriers, and enable our community to serve as a Washington State leader in conservation and advocacy. 

Ready to make a difference? In addition to making a gift online or mailing a check to the Seattle Program Center, there are many other ways donors can offer and leverage their support: 

  • Contribute at a level that is meaningful to you in honor or in memory of a loved one. Include a note with your gift and we will work with you to send a card to mark the occasion. Whether you're considering a gift of $5 or $5,000, it all adds up to big change. 
  • Annual giving over the $1,000 threshold welcomes you into Peak Society, the leadership giving circle of The Mountaineers. Peak Society members have the option of receiving exciting benefits, including a complimentary family membership, a special donor badge on your profile, invitations to exclusive events, and much more. 
  • Leverage a tax-savvy way to connect resources with impact by arranging for a gift of stock or securities. When you donate appreciated securities, you receive the same income tax savings that you would if you wrote a check, but with the added benefit of eliminating capital gains taxes. 
  • Consider planning for the future of The Mountaineers by leaving a bequest in your will or estate. If you'd like to learn more about planned giving, we invite you to visit our new online resource mountaineers.planmylegacy.org, or connect with Bri Vanderlinden at 206-521-6006.

Thank you to the 5,700 donors who annually choose to make a charitable investment in support of the strength and sustainability of The Mountaineers. If you are interested in learning about more ways to give back to The Mountaineers Annual Fund, or directing a gift to one of our restricted funds, please reach out to us at development@mountaineers.org or 206-521-6032.


The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions, tax ID:27-3009280, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

Main Image: Campers spend a week at Mt. Baker Lodge, Photo by Danielle Leitao