Impact Giving | Peak Society Takes us to New Heights

In this May edition of our monthly Impact Giving blog series, we are shining light on the Peak Society and how these leadership-level donors support our organization in good times and in bad.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 29, 2020
Impact Giving | Peak Society Takes us to New Heights
Main image by Kevin Steffa

We are halfway through The Mountaineers fiscal year and what a journey these last six months have been. When our Board of Directors approved an operating budget of $9.28M in October to support outdoor programs, places, and books, they never would have guessed that our plans would be disrupted by the catastrophic impacts of a global pandemic. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on a combination of earned revenue and philanthropic support to sustain operations, we’ve been challenged to pivot and re-imagine how The Mountaineers can best serve our community as incoming revenue slows to a trickle. Unrestricted charitable support from individual donors is paramount to our ability to sustain core operations. In this May edition of our monthly Impact Giving blog series, we are shining light on the Peak Society and how these leadership-level donors support our organization in good times and in bad.


Peak Society is the official title of The Mountaineers leadership giving circle. Members of the Peak Society are individuals and families who choose to make an unrestricted gift of $1,000 or more in support of our mission and programs. Similar to how Super Volunteers and Key Leaders are recognized for their exemplary donations of time and talent, Peak Society members are recognized for their generous charitable support. These donors are recognized annually, and many have tenures of 5+ consecutive years of leadership giving!


Like so many influential programs at The Mountaineers, the Peak Society was created through the idea and commitment of an inspired volunteer. In 2011, Rich Draves, former board member and longtime supporter, recognized the benefit that unrestricted philanthropy can provide to our organization, the advantage they would offer as we built out mission-critical programs, and the opportunity to elevate those programs over time in a significant way.  He proposed that the organization implement a leadership giving circle and provide special recognition for individuals who make donations of $1,000 or more, and The Mountaineers Peak Society came to life. The effort has evolved over the years, and now constitutes a very special community of like-minded people who believe it’s important to share the benefits of being in the outdoors.

In its inception in 2011, the Peak Society consisted of 25 charter members who were eager to support transformative outdoor experiences for our growing community. Flash forward to 2020, the leadership giving circle has now grown to an all-time high of 213 members and volunteers from all branches (and around the world!) who help to advance The Mountaineers mission and make the world a better place.


The journey to becoming a Peak Society member looks different for everyone, but oftentimes the inspiration for a donor’s first leadership gift stems from an influential learning experience, place, or book. Their investment is a vote of confidence, and has an important ripple effect of sustaining and strengthening Mountaineers programming for other members.

In good times, gifts from Peak Society members help to establish and maintain mission-critical initiatives that add value to our collective community, including conservation, volunteer leadership development, need-based scholarships, and youth outreach programs. In a typical year, Peak Society members bolster resources that empower our community to protect public lands. They ensure that all people can participate in experiential outdoor courses, clinics, and camps, regardless of their ability to pay. And they directly support volunteer instructors by providing numerous opportunities for advancing learning and engagement.

Collectively, gifts from Peak Society members account for a sizable portion of our annual philanthropic budget. Last year alone, these leadership donors supported nearly half of our $1.6M fundraising goal by providing over $670,000 in charitable gifts through personal contributions, donor advised funds, family foundations, gifts of securities, and matching gift programs. This support makes a difference in a big way and it is inspiring to witness the ripple effect of their gifts as we continue to cultivate leaders and expand our community. Peak Society allows us to continue the tradition of volunteer-led outdoor education and publish titles that reach millions of people around the world.

In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Peak Society donations are instrumental to protecting The Mountaineers core operations while we navigate ongoing destructive financial impacts. Typically, our annual financial plan includes over $2M of earned revenue from Mountaineers programs such as courses, lodge stays, summer camps, and global adventures. This year, nearly all of those funding streams have slowed to a trickle. As we all do our part to stay home and focus on public health, new and renewed Peak Society gifts provide flexible support that makes it possible for our organization to continue to serve our community, even if it is from a safe distance. 


We like to create fun and engaging ways to recognize Peak Society members throughout the year as a way to show our appreciation for their generous support. Perhaps you’ve seen a special purple ribbon on their name tag at the Volunteer Leadership Conference, or noticed their names called out in our Annual Report. Or maybe you’ve attended an event in the past where Peak Society members are the guests of honor. Chances are you’ve seen these little notes of thanks even if you haven't realized it. 

Some of our favorite ways to recognize* Peak Society members throughout the year:

  • Complimentary One-year Mountaineers family membership.
  • Invitation to Special Events: Annual Peak Society reception before the Seattle premiere of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, annual Peak Society reception before a select BeWild presentation, and other surprise opportunities.
  • Recognition at select Mountaineers events: special identification ribbons on name tags, call-outs during speaking remarks, reserved seating at select events.
  • Complimentary Mountaineers Books new releases, specially selected by the Books team and personally signed by the title’s author.
  • Recognition in The Mountaineers Annual Report, and a Peak Society badge displayed on your Mountaineers profile page.
  • Exclusive updates on upcoming Mountaineers events and activities, including early-access to Mountaineers Gala tickets, Banff Mountain Film Festival, and more.

*All recognition opportunities are optional and at the discretion of each individual donor


As we look to the future and contemplate all of the swirling changes ahead, one thing remains certain: Thanks to the generous support of our members, volunteers, donors, and Peak Society, The Mountaineers will re-emerge from the COVID-19 storm, moving onward in hope. In celebration of our recent virtual gala campaign, more than 75 individuals made a Peak Society-level gift, including 22 new Peak Society donors. In May, we will launch our annual spring giving appeal and will rely on new and renewed Peak Society support to help us reach our goal of $35,000. Typically, the appeal would kick off with GiveBIG, but this year we’re opting to give BIG thanks instead. If you’re in the position to make a gift to support our core operations, we hope you’ll consider giving what you can. To find out ways you can join, please visit the Peak Society webpage.

Thank you for your incredible support. 

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


Interested in supporting The Mountaineers by joining the Peak Society? Here are some ways you can make a qualifying gift in support of our mission and programs.

  • Make a one-time gift of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 to the annual fund
  • Make a multi-payment pledge of $1,000 or make a monthly unrestricted donation of $84 for 12 months
  • Raise the paddle at the $1,000 or more level at a Mountaineers signature fundraising event (Note: Event ticket prices and auction purchases do not qualify towards Peak Society enrollment)
  • Submit your volunteer hours for a  $1,000 corporate matching gift from your employer to The Mountaineers annual fund
  • Make a gift of securities valued at $1,000 or more 
  • Renew your Peak Society membership annually (your My Profile page will tell you when it's time)

MAIN IMAGE: shuksan peak. PHOTO BY Kevin Steffa.

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Deborah Riehl
Deborah Riehl says:
Dec 06, 2021 06:54 PM

Ok, how do I donate $1,000? My years of taking courses, leading hikes and attending programs move me to make a matchable gift as assort of payback. I failed to find a "click here to contribute" button. Should I just send a check? Deb Riehl, 47 year member

Amber Carrigan
Amber Carrigan says:
Dec 07, 2021 09:53 AM

Hi Deb, THANK YOU for your amazing support! We saw that you officially joined the Peak Society and are so grateful for the many ways you strengthen our community. Thank you for your 47-years as a member, volunteer, and now Peak Society donor!