5 Deserving Active Charities

These organizations are especially passionate about the outdoors

If you're looking for a meaningful gift that will have an impact beyond your best friend’s next camping trip or ski vacation, we have the answer. The following organizations do important work across the globe and can benefit from your donations.

To make sure your money goes to good use, we double-checked listings on Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, and chose organizations that make a positive social or environmental impact and work with partners, government agencies or local people to endorse their projects and/or make sure their efforts have long-term impact.

For climbers: Access Fund
Although many climbers don't know it, one in five climbing areas is threatened by access issues. The Access Fund, founded in 1991, fights to keep climbing areas open across the United States. The organization works across five key areas: climbing management policy, local support and mobilization, stewardship and conservation, land acquisition and protection, and education. Purchase a one-year membership for $35. 

For paddlers: American Rivers
American Rivers does notable work across several different areas. These include removing outdated and unsafe dams, working with communities to stop polluted runoff and sewage spills, supporting river cleans ups, and helping protect wild rivers from new dams and poorly planned development. 

For mountaineers: Big City Mountaineers
Big City Mountaineers partners with community-based youth organizations and adult volunteers to send close to 1,000 under-served urban youth on wilderness mentoring expeditions each year. The trips aim to foster integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, and decision-making and communications skills. The experience is shown to help kids stay in school and to reduce violence and drug use. Your donation will be added to money raised by Summit for Someone climbers. These volunteers raise thousands of dollars for BCM as they prepare to climb one of North America’s most challenging peaks.

For bikers: World Bicycle Relief
In sub-Saharan Africa, World Bicycle Relief helps local people better access healthcare, education and economic opportunities (such as markets) through bikes that allow faster transportation and a way to carry goods. To keep the project sustainable, WBR manufactures rugged bicycles fit for rural African terrain, trains local field mechanics and delivers bicycles through work-to-own or study-to-own programs. The effects of the program are tracked by third-party studies, lending the organization even more credibility. And if you’re still not sold, here’s a bonus: any donation you make through Dec. 31 will be matched. 

For hikers, cross-country skiers or trail runners: American Trails
Founded in 1998, this organization has been crucial in the formation and preservation of many trails across the United States. American Trails aims to serve all users—from snowshoers to four-wheelers—in backcountry, rural and urban areas. The organization helps establish new trails through government lobbying, as well as by helping member organizations with legal advice and training. The organization helped revitalize the National Recreation Trails program with the National Park Service and other notable partners, produces American Trails Magazine, interprets congressional action and legislation for trail supporters and participates in hearings and task forces on federal land management issues.