Impact Giving | Philanthropy's Year In Review

Take a look back at our 2020 fundraising efforts, and find out what’s in store for 2021.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
January 01, 2021

As we look back at January 2020, The Mountaineers and Mountaineers Books teams were celebrating the new calendar year, a successful first quarter, and building momentum to deliver on the $9.28M approved operating budget for fiscal year 2020. A year ago today, we celebrated our most successful year-end appeal campaign and were getting ready to  open ticket sales for our 6th annual Gala, where we planned to welcome Sir Chris Bonington and 500 Mountaineers guests to Fremont Studios. The Mountaineers fundraising team was excited to see how the organization’s culture of philanthropy would continue to grow. Little did we know, a storm was blowing in.

 Through the global pandemic that followed, our community doubled down on its commitment to our mission and gave us much cause to celebrate. As we kick off our first Impact Giving blog of 2021, we reflect on the big wins from a challenging year and peek into how philanthropy will continue to support us in the days ahead. 

FY2020: Where We Started and Where We Ended Up 

When we set course for last fiscal year, our goal was to raise $1.62M in charitable contributions. As we navigated the ups and downs of the pandemic, we conservatively updated our fundraising target to be sensitive to the new financial landscape facing individuals, corporations, and foundations. With our outdoor programs on hold and books retailers closed for much of the year, we knew that fundraising would be an important resource for closing the organization's revenue gap during this trying year.

While our plans shifted slightly, a number of anchors stabilized us throughout the year as we stretched to achieve our adjusted fundraising goal of $1.33M. In hindsight, the groundwork that had been laid to utilize fundraising as a vehicle of support for the organization would become one of our greatest strengths to make it through the year. In total, $1.48M in philanthropic revenue was raised, a 2% increase over the previous year that surpassed our adjusted goal. 

The anchors of our fundraising plan that help us reach our annual goals include a year-end appeal and a spring fundraising campaign, fundraising events like the Gala and An Evening of Advocacy, a strong level of support through corporate matching gift programs for volunteer hours and donations, and annual giving efforts that take the form of donations added onto online “carts” when individuals purchased a book or registered for an event. We also offer special recognition through giving circles such as Peak Society and Summit Society and have invested staff time in developing major gifts and planned giving resources. We also seek corporate sponsorships and apply to foundations and government agencies for grants for youth programming and other special initiatives.

How We Got There: FY2020 Philanthropy in Review

If there ever was a time to use the old adage “it takes a village,” this is that moment. Thanks to the millions of book readers, 14,000 members, 2,800 volunteers, and 2,300 donors, we’re feeling confident about taking on whatever is in store for FY2021. Before we charge forth into the new year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect back on the philanthropy highlights from FY2020:

  • 2,376 donor households directly contributed over $805,000 in charitable contributions
  • 226 households were recognized through Peak Society by contributing $1,000 or more within the year, with 60 donors joining for the very first time
  • 21 individuals set up a recurring monthly gift to become sustaining donors 
  • 14 members joined Summit Society by notifying us of a gift left for The Mountaineers in their will or estate plans
  • 1,900 donors made a first gift across all 50 states and 5 different countries
  • 47 Corporate and Foundations Gifts contributed  $445,000 in sponsorships, grants, and cash donations. 
  • $161,000 received from employer matching gift programs in the form of payroll deductions, volunteer hours, and matching gifts
  • 2,800 volunteers contributed over 54,000 in reported volunteer hours and spearheaded new events and courses to encourage donations, resulting in thousands of additional dollars raised. 

Looking at the giving response from the 2020 fiscal year, we were in awe at the level of support from our regional community and beyond, and as we looked at how giving trends have changed since 2017, we were absolutely floored! In the last three years alone, dollars donated from individuals have grown by a whopping 65%. This trend is heavily supported by our members, as we’ve seen the number of members who support our mission with a charitable gift increase by 38%. The total number of donations we see per year has grown by 21%, indicating that more people are giving, and giving more often.

Where Does The Money Go?

As our philanthropy revenue increases, so does the depth and breadth of our mission delivery. Thanks to the increasing support through our membership, we are able to continue to invest in these mission critical programs:

  • Our Conservation and Advocacy Program focuses on presenting opportunities for our community to work together to advocate for stronger protections for public lands and waters and ensure that they are managed in a way that embraces the human-powered experience.
  • Adult and Youth Scholarships are offered through our Mountaineers Access Program (MAP) and bridges the financial gap for courses, camps, seminars, and membership. This fund supports scholarships across all seven branches by creating opportunities for future volunteers, climbers, kayakers, conservationists, and much more. 
  • Mountain Workshops is a  wellness-based program that empowers 1,500 youth annually, through outdoor connections and year-round education and recreation activities. This program serves youth who experience barriers to outdoor access and may not otherwise be able to participate in outdoor adventure programming.
  • Volunteer Leadership Development includes programs like Alpine Ambassadors, advanced skills training, and annual rewards and recognition to appreciate our dedicated leaders for their gifts of time and talent.
  • Mountaineers Books, our publishing division, publishes high-quality and ambitious projects, creates books in an environmentally sustainable way, and extends our reach to new communities.
  • New or improved facilities, including the Tacoma Program Center, friction slabs, and  basalt columns. It can also support simpler needs, such as a snowcat for Meany Lodge or retrofitting efficient lighting in the program centers and our Mountaineers Books office.

While The Mountaineers team works to secure philanthropic support for each of these program areas, we are immensely grateful for the donors who choose to give unrestricted funds, as these are the most powerful way to support mission-critical programs across all seven branches. Unrestricted funds allow flexibility in filling gaps between dollars raised and expenses required for a particular program area’s success, administrative and accounting requirements to maintain our non-profit status, and the staff that support the members and volunteers that make it all possible. Especially in this year of need, unrestricted philanthropy allowed us to deliver on our mission with flexibility in how we carry out each program.

What’s in Store for FY2021?

The outpouring of support from members around the world help us feel confident as we take on Fiscal Year 2021. With the strength of our community behind us, the Board Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and staff leadership worked together to build a high confidence plan and approved an operating budget of $7.22M for the year ahead. As a part of this budget, the development team will work with volunteers, branch leadership, and our board to deliver on a $1.2M fundraising goal that will be critical to restarting operations in 2021 and building even more momentum in 2022. 

We are already off to a great start. The Mountaineers is once again breaking records with our most successful year end appeal to date. On December 28, four days ahead of schedule, our community met our $100,000 December goal and donations continue to pour in. As of December 30 more than $123,000 has been donated, representing a 11% increase from 2019. This year-end accomplishment is certainly worth celebrating, though it’s important to remember that it’s just one stop along the way to our $1.2M annual fundraising goal.

We look forward to celebrating more to come with key milestones along the way including the 2021 Virtual Gala on April 29, GiveBig and our Spring Appeal in May, new resources to support legacy and estate gifts, and a fall event to support our Conservation and Advocacy Program.

How To make a difference

If you feel inspired to make a tax-deductible donation, there are many meaningful ways to support The Mountaineers beyond making a  gift online

  • Consider a gift in honor of a Mountaineers volunteer, friend, or mentor, and send a special message to the person who has made a difference in your life. 
  • Many donors choose to give with different assets by making a gift of securities, with a donor advised fund, or transfers from other special accounts. 
  • For donors who want to support a restricted fund, we have donation pages up for our special donor-funded initiatives:
  • Many Mountaineers have made plans for the future by leaving a gift of bequest in their will. If this is something you’ve done, we ask that you double check the Tax-ID number 27-3009280 on your paperwork and include an address if possible. Please seek advice from a financial advisor, and we hope you’ll reach out if you have any questions. 
  • It’s never easy to lose a loved one, though some families have found meaning in setting up gifts in memory in lieu of flowers. If this is something you are considering, we can help to set up a donation page and send special messages to family members. 
  • Many of our efforts are elevated with the support of matching opportunities for new donors. If you’d like to set up a matching gift pool for one of our upcoming campaigns, we’d love to work with you.

Thank you for an incredible year! If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas for new ways to make a difference, we hope you’ll reach out to us at development@mountaineers.org or call 206-521-6006.

Photo of Mt. shuksan by Todd sweatland.


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.


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