We are committed to caring for the natural spaces that make possible our quality of life, community connections, health and wellness. If the generations to come are to enjoy these outdoor treasures, it is up to all of us to do our part to conserve them. In this section we provide information about REI's conservation efforts and programs. These include our store-based community involvement efforts and partnerships with organizations focused on stewardship.
REI provided more than 330 grants in 2010, totaling $3.7 million, with a focus on outdoor recreation and volunteer conservation efforts. As in years past, REI helped mobilize individuals and families in active outdoor stewardship by supporting volunteer activities and events. Some highlights of our efforts in 2010 include:
315,000 volunteers cared for a variety of natural places through the programs and events of nonprofits supported by REI’s funding
2,280,481 volunteer hours were provided to working on trails, in parks and along waterways on conservation projects on REI-funded nonprofits
541 volunteer conservation projects featuring 31,206 volunteers were hosted by REI
109,784 volunteer hours were spent on REI-hosted conservation projects
23,454 miles of trail were maintained and 27,353 acres of land were restored—taking care of our natural places to provide the setting for great outdoor experiences in the future
The 2010 grants program demonstrated success by increasing outcomes in alignment with a new focus on volunteerism. As a result, the number of volunteer participants and number of hours that will be achieved by 2010 grantees increased by 139 percent and 165 percent respectively.
Most importantly, grantees will achieve their 2010 outcomes with a significantly lower cost-per-volunteer (-13 percent) and the lowest recorded cost-per-volunteer-hour (-22 percent).
Overall, our community-based grants dramatically increased the scale of REI-supported stewardship outcomes while simultaneously achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency in impact-per-grant dollar.
These accomplishments represent the power and potential of our giving program’s increased concentration on the strengths of the co-op by engaging our employees, members, customers and nonprofit partners.
The grants team leveraged social media in new ways to create value for community partners and increase awareness of REI stewardship efforts. For example, in partnership with colleagues throughout the co-op, we cultivated the REI blog as an opportunity to educate, inspire and increase engagement with community partners. Our nonprofit partners joined in by submitting “guest” posts for the blog with supporting video and photos of their programs.
REI also worked with Facebook on the launch of their new Places “check-in” feature whereby $100,000 dollars was donated to community-based grantees based on the number of check-ins accumulated at REI retail stores.
In 2010, REI stores strengthened local relationships with outdoor-oriented nonprofits through the creation of the new Community Gear Donation program. Each REI store received budget dollars to purchase REI-brand gear and apparel for local nonprofit organizations to award at fundraisers, events and volunteer recognition celebrations. In the first year of this program, $95,000 in REI products was donated to more than 500 nonprofit organizations.
Despite our success in 2010, we realize there are many significant challenges facing us. For example, we recognize that REI does not have the resources needed to address all of the conservation needs created in the face of reduced federal and state funding. In addition, REI is focused on actively partnering with organizations to increase the scale of their sustained impact in stewarding natural areas. We track progress on an annual basis, but recognize that this undertaking will require many years of work in order to achieve success on a broad scale.
Lastly, in many areas of the country, nonprofit organizations that focus on outdoor volunteerism are still working at a small scale with a limited number of volunteers. These organizations will require substantial time and effort to increase the scale and impact of their programs to address the urgent needs of the natural areas in which they work.
By narrowing our focus in 2010, we achieved success in making a greater impact-per-grant-dollar than ever before. We accomplished this measure while implementing our program at a larger scale than we ever have before.
2011 will present a challenge in continuing to narrow our focus on outdoor stewardship and continuing to sustain our impact-per-dollar as our stores develop new partnerships in alignment with this focus.
We continue to see our role in increasing the capacity of our nonprofit and community partners as an especially important need to assist in the protection of natural spaces.
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