Why is Earned Revenue Not Enough?

In 2020, The Mountaineers board of directors approved an operating budget of $9.28M. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable contributions enhance our ability to deliver on our mission in ways we cannot do with earned revenue alone.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
November 01, 2019

With a membership of nearly 14,000 that spans the Puget Sound, it’s inspiring to think of the many ways The Mountaineers brings value to our community. Outdoor education courses, lodge stays, trips to explore on land or water, year-round youth and family programming, and unique lectures and events are just some of the ways that members and volunteers engage with our organization. Mountaineers Books greatly expands on that impact, reaching millions of homes across the world.

Big impacts come with big responsibility. In 2020, The Mountaineers board of directors approved an operating budget of $9.28M to ensure our organization has the resources it needs to thrive. The majority of the budget is funded through earned revenue streams, including membership dues, course fees, book sales, facility rentals, lodge stays, and more, with the remaining funds given through charitable contributions.

Ample earned revenue ensures that we are able to cover the cost of shared services, including program center operation, liability insurance, website and information technology, and staff to support volunteer development, programming, and membership. Because expenses for these  support services are shared across multiple programs and branches, the cost is lower than it would otherwise be - we're stronger and more efficient by operating as a single Mountaineers organization. 

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable contributions enhance our ability to deliver on our mission in ways we cannot do with earned revenue alone. Donations empower The Mountaineers to move the needle on influential strategic priorities, including conservation, advocacy and outdoor access, as well as innovative volunteer leadership development efforts, youth programs, publishing, outdoor facilities, and so much more.

Today, we are kicking off a monthly Impact Giving series to talk about the many ways that donations expand our mission and the fundraising strategies we use to reach our goals. We hope this series will provide you with valuable information about how our organization sustains its programming!

To begin, it is important to understand the breakdown of how earned revenue and philanthropy fund operations for The Mountaineers: 




What does earned revenue fund?

Earned revenue are funds generated by the sales of goods and services. For The Mountaineers, these items include: book sales, membership dues, course registration fees, facility rentals, lodge stays, ticket sales, summer camps, and youth club dues. Here is what earned revenue funds for our organization:

    • 95% of Mountaineers Books printing, distribution, and operations
    • 100% of our member services team
    • 90% of administration and professional staff support
    • 100% of website and IT expenses
    • 100% of program center and facilities
    • 80% of volunteer leader development and recognition

What do charitable contributions make possible?

Contributions are gifts made freely without anything received in exchange. Examples of contributions include: donations from individuals, gifts of bequest set up in a person’s will, grants and corporate support, and gifts of in-kind goods and services.   

At The Mountaineers, charitable contributions support: 

  • Conservation and advocacy work, which empowers our community to engage as a united voice in support of public lands.
  • 140 annual scholarships for youth and adults to participate in life-changing outdoor education courses, clinics, and camps.
  • Mountain Workshops, our program that partners with 30+ organizations across the Puget Sound to provide 1,600 youth with opportunities to connect with the outdoors. This program serves youth who experience significant barriers to outdoor access and may not otherwise be able to participate in outdoor adventure programming.
  • Volunteer Leadership Development and innovation, including programs like Alpine Ambassadors, advanced skills training, and annual recognition programs.
  • Mountaineers Books, supporting the publishing of high-quality and ambitious projects, and creating books in an environmentally sustainable way, extending our reach to new communities.
  • New or improved facilities, including the Tacoma Program Center, friction slabs, basalt columns, and the Rhododendron Preserve.

Of course, none of this good work would be possible without volunteers who annually donate over 200,000 hours in service to our growing outdoor community! Their gifts of time help us to deliver on our mission and get people outside. Charitable donors (many of whom are also volunteers), advance the work of volunteers by ensuring equitable access to outdoor opportunities and providing an avenue for members to conserve and protect our wild places. The importance of “giving back” and “paying it forward” rings loudly across our membership.

Over the next 12 months, we will take you on a journey to share the many ways Mountaineers inspire a culture of philanthropy. You will learn about avenues that individuals can choose to make a charitable contribution, including matching gifts, social media giving campaigns, attending fundraising events like our annual Gala, naming The Mountaineers as beneficiaries in a will, and making gifts in honor of our favorite educator, in memory of a loved one, or in appreciation of your own transformative experiences. We’ll also dive into how we’re using donor gifts to elevate programs and impact within our community.

We hope you’ll walk away with a better understanding of what charitable contributions make possible, and why earned revenue is not enough if we want to make the most of the magic of The Mountaineers.

“I like to give back to the community that has given me a career. It is an organization that makes a difference because they change the course of things that matter: Education, Stewardship, Conservation, Diversity, Community and more.” 
-- Dave Haavik, 10-Year Member, Peak Society

Thank you for your support as a member, donor, volunteer, reader, and subscriber. We look forward to sharing the many ways Mountaineers give back and how donations make a difference.

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.

If you are inspired to make a gift, please visit mountaineers.org/donate or call 206-521-6006.