Backcountry Giving Guide

by Craig Metrick, Cornerstone Capital Group


This year, the gift guide provides some information on various charities that support causes I believe might be important to BCL readers. We are all aware of the challenges we face as a society, a global population, and a species dependent on the natural world. What we may not see every day, however, is the difficult and innovative work that many are doing to improve our condition. I offer a glimpse of that for this year’s gift guide with the hope that it informs and inspires readers to give for themselves or as a gift for someone else.


This list was compiled from a number of sources, including some personal knowledge of and access to some nonprofits related to the issues covered in the BCL. Some free and online sources of charity vetting were consulted to make this list a good starting point for readers to pursue their own interests in giving.


Aside from alignment with the donor’s interests, I believe it is important to invest in nonprofits that are transparent about their work (and its impacts). Charities may also be measured by the percentage of their budget that goes to programs versus other spending. Charity Navigator and Charity Watch are two free, online sources that try to collect and process this information and rate charities on financial health, accountability, transparency, efficiency, donor privacy and other factors. I consulted these sources, as well as Outside Magazine’s article The Year of Giving Adventurously, to help develop this list.


Due to limited space, I focused on charities that focus primarily on terrestrial wildlife, outdoor recreation and the environment. But I also wanted to highlight some of the new models for giving that have arisen recently, such as microlending. I encourage you to seek local, national, or global charities that suit your interests and values.


1% for the Planet
Donate as an individual to an organization that signs up companies to donate 1% of sales to the planet, which in turn is distributed to environmental nonprofits.

  • More than 1200 companies in 44 countries have committed
  • More than $115 million donated by those companies
  • $ goes to more than 3500 nonprofits is building a global climate movement. Online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries. The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. believes that a global grassroots movement can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.


American Rivers
American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Through their river conservation work, they are ensuring clean drinking water supplies, revitalizing fish and wildlife, improving recreation, and leaving a legacy of healthy rivers for future generations.


American Trails
American Trails is a national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests, including hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, water trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail motorcycling, ATVs, snowmobiling and four-wheeling. American Trails members want to create and protect America’s network of interconnected trails.


Big City Mountaineers
Big City Mountaineers transforms the lives of under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. Their curriculum improves integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in close to 1,000 youth annually.


Center for Biological Diversity
At the Center for Biological Diversity, they believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, they work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction.


This nonprofit organization leverages the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to let individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Since Kiva was founded in 2005 they have facilitated:
1,349,801 Kiva lenders
$776,524,025 in loans
98.46% repayment rate


Pathfinder International
Since 1957, they have partnered with local governments, communities, and health systems in developing countries to remove barriers to critical sexual and reproductive health services. Their work ensures millions of women, men, and young people are able to choose their own paths forward. Recently, the group partnered with the Nature Conservancy and the Frankfurt Zoological Society on a plan to establish sustainable fisheries, healthy forests, and health care in a remote, wildlife-rich area of western Tanzania where populations are outpacing natural resources.


Plains Conservation Center
By becoming a supporter of the Plains Conservation Center, you can make a direct impact on the environment. The Plains Conservation Center will be pairing with Savory Institute to restore the loss of grasslands on a local and international level, joining the Savory Institute Hub Network and becoming part of a global movement that will restore 2.5 billion acres of grasslands by 2025.


A nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital and markets. Their work is rooted in the idea that hardworking people can generate income, jobs and wealth for their families and communities. With more than four decades of proven results, they believe in the power of private enterprise to transform lives.


Trout Unlimited
TU is a national organization with more than 150,000 members organized into about 400 chapters from Maine to Montana to Alaska. The organization remains committed to applying the very best information and thinking available in its conservation work and has developed cutting-edge tools such as the Conservation Success Index (CSI), a sophisticated framework for assessing the health of coldwater fish species throughout their native range.


Rock the Earth
Rock the Earth is a national nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and defending our natural resources through partnerships with the music industry and the worldwide environmental community to ensure a sustainable and healthy planet for all.


Vital Voices Global Partnership
The preeminent non-governmental organization (NGO) that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a better world for us all.