Since 1976, REI has provided more than $37 million to nonprofit organizations that share our goal to protect and preserve our country’s natural spaces and to get more people into the outdoors.
Each year, we allocate 3 percent of the previous year’s operating profit to our annual giving budget. As a result, in 2011, $4.48 million was given to more than 330 local and national groups that take care of the places we love. For a list of local and national grants made to conservation nonprofits, click here.
REI’s corporate grants program is a community-based approach led by our retail employees who nominate local partner nonprofits. We believe this approach is the most authentic way to invest in communities because REI’s more than 11,000 employees have the strongest connection to the communities where they work, play and volunteer.
Each grant proposal is evaluated in the context of REI’s funding priorities and criteria that involve evaluation of impact, engagement and accountability. Proposals are also evaluated according to their impact to increasing outdoor volunteer stewardship. This approach helps make sure that our grants are strategic, and create the best, most impactful result. We do not accept unsolicited requests or proposals.
Our engagement goes well beyond grant making, however. We also work closely with each recipient to leverage our resources and relationships. For example, REI employees help connect our nonprofit partners with our members, customers and the community to bring more attention to the nonprofit’s work and to publicize how people can get involved as volunteers.
You can see how REI teams with nonprofits in this video.
As a leader in our industry and community, the co-op takes seriously its role in supporting and promoting outdoor recreation and conservation. For that reason, REI executives are expected and encouraged to give their time and talent to nonprofit boards and the co-op provides financial support to those nonprofits, as well as other nonprofit partners.
To support those in need, REI actively partners with the Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts in communities around the world. In addition, we remember REI employees who pass away by making donations in their honor to nonprofits meaningful to them.