Peak Society support at a higher level

“With my Peak Society annual giving it’s all about participating and sustaining operations of an organization that’s doing great things,” he said. “We wanted to continue to make an impact on the community and leave a lasting legacy which you can do with a larger gift. And it’s easy to make larger gifts with a bequest.”
Mary Hsue Mary Hsue
October 15, 2014

Those of us who work in the nonprofit sector believe what we do for a living supports a mission to make a difference in the world. In the nine years I’ve spent working in development for nonprofits, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s actually partnerships with donors that truly advance an organization’s vision to make the world a better place.

Nowhere have I seen this play out more effectively than in my three years with The Mountaineers. It’s here I’ve witnessed the extraordinary tradition of giving time to share outdoor passions evolve into a generous culture of philanthropy to provide thousands of transformative outdoor experiences for people – young and young at heart – that result in meaningful connections to the natural world. Generous contributions from members of the Peak Society, The Mountaineers major donor giving club, have been central to the success of these efforts. Leading this extraordinary group of supporters is Rich Draves, board member, Basic and Intermediate course graduate, and chair of the Peak Society. “I’ve been interested in climbing mountains since I was a kid, but had no opportunity until I moved out to Seattle for a job with Microsoft and heard about the climbing course at The Mountaineers,” Rich said when I asked him how he became involved with The Mountaineers. It’s at The Mountaineers where Rich developed a passion for mountaineering and conservation that sparked his evolution from student to volunteer to donor. “I see The Mountaineers as an important part of the Pacific Northwest community and my life,” Rich explained when I asked him what inspired him to make his first gift. “I wanted to support the community around us and I had the capacity to help.”

An opportunity for leadership

Help is an understatement. Not only is Rich chair of the Peak Society, he can be credited for dreaming up the giving club just over three years ago. “It all started when I sat down to brainstorm about leadership giving levels with your predecessor I considered my experience giving to other organizations and how these organizations recognized leadership giving. After making the case, it was hard not to be involved,” he said. Since then, Peak Society membership has grown from 25 to 95 members and counts a dozen donors giving at newly launched $2,500 to $10,000 levels. “I’m proud of the success of the program and gratified to see so many people willing to step forward and support The Mountaineers. Considering how much time people give, it’s remarkable so many give so generously.” I wholly agree and add that, considering how new fundraising is to The Mountaineers, it’s remarkable that so many people make unrestricted donations that allow the board and executive leaders of the organization to invest in launching or sustaining mission-critical programs and initiatives. “As a board member, I appreciate that unrestricted dollars are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. Certain programs can have traction but so much more is needed to ensure the success and impact of mission-based programs.

”At a recent event hosted by Rich and his wife, Martha, he announced a matching gift opportunity to attract new members to the giving club. “We’re trying to grow Peak Society and want to give everyone a chance to see what it feels like to be part of a group of like-minded people who believe it’s important to share the benefits of being in the outdoors.” They hope to inspire members to make $500 contributions. Every $500 gift donated before September 30th will be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000. When asked about the matching gift, he said “A few Peak Society members agreed to join me and make larger gifts so that we could present this match for new Peak Society members.

”This is not the first time Rich has contributed to a matching gift effort to inspire members to donate at the Peak Society-level. “I’ve noticed that folks are motivated to increase their donation from $500 to $1,000 when they hear about the impact of their support, meet others who support these programs, and see the way The Mountaineers invests their donations,” he explained. The Mountaineers is such an important part of Rich’s life that he and Martha decided to leave a bequest for The Mountaineers. “With my Peak Society annual giving it’s all about participating and sustaining operations of an organization that’s doing great things,” he said. “We wanted to continue to make an impact on the community and leave a lasting legacy which you can do with a larger gift. And it’s easy to make larger gifts with a bequest.” Rich sees a bequest as a way to have a more significant impact. He says, “With bequests it’s about changing something in a way that’s more transformative – like building a building or even a program.

”At the end of our interview I asked, “Who inspires you?” Rich replies, “This is not easy for me to answer. I’m not someone who reads biographies, but I guess I can say that I’m inspired by my friends and climbing partners. Every time I go out with Gavin, Dave or Brian I’m inspired by their enthusiasm, athleticism, or skills. I’m inspired to live up to what they are capable of.” I’m truly grateful to Rich and Martha, and Peak Society members for giving so generously to The Mountaineers. They inspire me by their generosity and the many ways they work to make this world a better place.


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