#GivingTuesday: 9 Ways to Pay it Forward

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Our tips for how to give back to your community and the planet.

As the turkey-induced lethargy fades and Cyber Monday deals have been successfully snagged, our thoughts turn toward that all-important idea of goodwill toward all. Enter Giving Tuesday.

This day (and hashtag) is the brainchild of the smart folks at the 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City. Its purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. Giving Tuesday is now in its sixth year and is only gaining steam.

Not sure how to get involved? These are our favorite ways to give back to the outdoor community on this specific day, and through the rest of the year:

1. Donate to a nonprofit.

“This time of year, many nonprofits are in their major fundraising drives. The best way to give back right now is making a monetary donation. So, as you’re thinking about getting those last tax deductions, donate,” said Kristen Ragain, ‎philanthropy and community partnerships manager for REI. You can find some of our community partners here. If you’re looking for local nonprofits, stop by your nearest REI and talk to a staff member. Don’t have cash? Put your skills to good use. Are you a writer, photographer, accountant? Donate your time—your expertise is much appreciated for chronically understaffed nonprofits.

2. Give your old gear a new life.

“You might have a new shiny tent, but your old tent still wants to go camping … help it find a good home through the Give Back Box,” said Vik Sahney, head of sustainability for REI. The Give Back Box program makes it easy for your lightly used items to stay in circulation, reducing waste and helping more people get outside. Better yet? Set up a community drive—help your friends and family members clean out their gear closet while ensuring the gear gets to the people who need it most.

3. Volunteer.

There are a plethora of nonprofits that build and maintain trails, fight for access to public lands and help get more people outside. Reach out to an organization you’re passionate about and ask them how you can volunteer. Need help finding a nonprofit? Consider supporting our Force of Nature Fund grantees or stop by your REI store to ask for their local nonprofit partners. “One of the benefits of being a co-op member is we’ve done the research for you," Ragain said. "We have 400 nonprofit partners around the country in 2017."

4. Start a fundraiser.

Maybe you don’t have a ton of extra cash or gear, or time to volunteer. If you have the power of the internet or the ability to make cupcakes, you can host a fundraiser. From the classic bake sale at your school or work to an online-only fundraiser, gather the power of your community together to give back this season. Just remember, when picking an online fundraising tool, be sure to assess the fees before choosing a platform—many such tools can take a hefty chunk of change out of donations for processing fees, credit card fees and other hidden costs.

Dirty work gloves

5. Buy gifts that do good.

This season, commit to philanthropy even as you’re spreading holiday cheer to your loved ones (or yourself). Do a little research and choose presents that have a give-back component. When you purchase anything from Patagonia, 1 percent of sales go to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. When you buy a LifeStraw, you’re giving a child in a developing country safe drinking water for one school year. It’s a win-win.

6. Bring someone new outside.

Giving back doesn’t have to be through a nonprofit. Have a friend who doesn’t know how to climb? Take them to the closest boulder. Does your kid’s schoolmate lack time outside? Go on a double-family hike. Paying it forward or giving it back is as simple as bringing someone new into the outdoors.

7. Take a first-aid or CPR class.

A part of being outdoors is being a good steward, both of the land and your fellow outdoor-people. Being prepared in case of emergency is a great way to contribute, time and time again (if necessary). Find a class near you.

8. Don’t forget the future.

Giving Tuesday is a good start, but it’s only once a year. Keep the goodwill going year-round by setting up monthly automatic donations to your favorite nonprofit, and create calendar alerts for future volunteer activities. Keep up your great momentum.

9. Spread the word to the next generation.

You’ve already shared your fundraiser online, posted a selfie on the 'Gram of you doing trail work and brought a friend outside. Don’t forget to engage the next generation (i.e., all the young people in your life). If they care about engaging with nonprofits, supporting the environment and enjoying outdoor recreation, they’ll keep the good going far into the future.


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