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Expired dividend question and suggestion.

What happens to unused dividends when they expire?  I'd like to suggest that there be an option for members to donate the funds to Outdoor Afro or similar organization.  Bonus: REI could match any funds donated.

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@PollyG Thanks for reaching out with this suggestion!

When unused dividends expire (two years after issue), they are returned to REI as donated capital and are taxable income for REI. We put a lot of resources to making sure our members know they have dividend to spend before it expires. Additionally, you can request to cash out your dividend after July 1st of the year you receive it.

If you would like, after cashing it out, you could make a donation to the REI Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit that tends to focus its attention on organizations that promote outdoor access for youth and diverse groups that are under-represented in outdoor activities or in the outdoor industry. Since its inception, the Foundation has made grants of nearly $10 million. You can read more about its work on the Community and Advocacy page of the Stewardship Report here

Since you noted a great organization (and long time partner of REI) in Outdoor Afro, we wanted to call attention to this section of the stewardship report:

REI is proud to partner with organizations like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Black Girls RUN!, The Venture Out Project, Unlikely Hikers, LatinXHikers, Brown Girls Climb, TranSending, The Outdoor Journal Tour, 52 Hike Challenge and many others who strive for a more inclusive outdoors. By partnering with these organizations, in 2019 REI:

  • Supported over 180 local partner experiences for #OptOutside across the country, reaching more than 1,500 participants who opted to act with their communities, cleaning up parks and trails, volunteering locally and sharing their outdoor skills with others.
  • Through partner social media, REI is able to engage with a broader and more diverse audience in a more culturally relevant way. In 2019, we connected with an audience of over 2.2 million through partners’ social media platforms with compelling storytelling and REI content that expands the narrative about meaningful ways people experience the outdoors based on who they are, where they live, and how they get out.
  • Provided resources and trainings to partner organizations, including 11 Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certifications for organizational leaders, which provide critical skills to ensure the safety of event participants and help increase the number of activities partners can offer to their communities. 
  • Expanded the representation of gender diversity, LBGTQ+ people, body sizes and people of color to support a shift in narrative about who the outdoors is for in features like REI Co-op Media (online journal, print magazine and cinema) and marketing initiatives.

As we look forward to 2020, we are looking forward to even more outdoor experiences and authentic storytelling that resonates with and centers on a broader diversity of our communities. Together with our national partners, REI will continue to champion greater diversity and inclusion in the outdoors so that the many benefits provided by the outdoors can be truly enjoyed by all.

Thank you for your suggestion and for supporting the important work of making the Outdoors for All!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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@PollyG Thanks for reaching out with this suggestion!

When unused dividends expire (two years after issue), they are returned to REI as donated capital and are taxable income for REI. We put a lot of resources to making sure our members know they have dividend to spend before it expires. Additionally, you can request to cash out your dividend after July 1st of the year you receive it.

If you would like, after cashing it out, you could make a donation to the REI Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit that tends to focus its attention on organizations that promote outdoor access for youth and diverse groups that are under-represented in outdoor activities or in the outdoor industry. Since its inception, the Foundation has made grants of nearly $10 million. You can read more about its work on the Community and Advocacy page of the Stewardship Report here

Since you noted a great organization (and long time partner of REI) in Outdoor Afro, we wanted to call attention to this section of the stewardship report:

REI is proud to partner with organizations like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Black Girls RUN!, The Venture Out Project, Unlikely Hikers, LatinXHikers, Brown Girls Climb, TranSending, The Outdoor Journal Tour, 52 Hike Challenge and many others who strive for a more inclusive outdoors. By partnering with these organizations, in 2019 REI:

  • Supported over 180 local partner experiences for #OptOutside across the country, reaching more than 1,500 participants who opted to act with their communities, cleaning up parks and trails, volunteering locally and sharing their outdoor skills with others.
  • Through partner social media, REI is able to engage with a broader and more diverse audience in a more culturally relevant way. In 2019, we connected with an audience of over 2.2 million through partners’ social media platforms with compelling storytelling and REI content that expands the narrative about meaningful ways people experience the outdoors based on who they are, where they live, and how they get out.
  • Provided resources and trainings to partner organizations, including 11 Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certifications for organizational leaders, which provide critical skills to ensure the safety of event participants and help increase the number of activities partners can offer to their communities. 
  • Expanded the representation of gender diversity, LBGTQ+ people, body sizes and people of color to support a shift in narrative about who the outdoors is for in features like REI Co-op Media (online journal, print magazine and cinema) and marketing initiatives.

As we look forward to 2020, we are looking forward to even more outdoor experiences and authentic storytelling that resonates with and centers on a broader diversity of our communities. Together with our national partners, REI will continue to champion greater diversity and inclusion in the outdoors so that the many benefits provided by the outdoors can be truly enjoyed by all.

Thank you for your suggestion and for supporting the important work of making the Outdoors for All!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thank you for this response, John.  I'm glad that REI is already doing some of the necessary work to increase the inclusiveness of the outdoor community.

I still believe that having an option - ideally the default option - to have any unused dividends go to one of these organizations would be a better solution than the current one.  Personally, I am much more likely to donate funds to organizations when (a) it is easy, and (b) there is less chance that the donation will lead to a deluge of additional emails and/or junk mail, so if I could do it with a single click or phone call using my unused REI dividend, that would be an incredible service.

@PollyG Thank you for your response!

These are really good suggestions and we appreciate you bringing them to our attention. The ability to connect with our members in this way to hear their thoughts and ideas is one of the things that excites us most about this community. We have taken your ideas and passed them to the team who does this work. Thank you for helping engage the conversation about inclusivity in the outdoor community.

Thank you again for sharing with us!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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As an alternative suggestion, why not simply mail the member a check for the money? Then they can, of course, opt to donate it to an organization of their choice if that is their preference.

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As an alternative suggestion, why not simply mail the member a check for the cash amount of the dividend? Then they can opt to donate it to an organization of their choosing if that is their preference, as you point out.

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