The Why and the How of Hiking for a Cause

So you’ve decided to go on a hike? Awesome! It’s great for your body and soul to be active and live life to its fullest. Experiencing life at 2 miles per hour is a nice change of pace for our bodies and our minds. People will envy your adventure. They’ll want to follow your journey and be a part of it in every way possible. Why not consider adding a fundraising component so every mile you walk will reap the benefit of generating revenue for a cause for which you are passionate? Not only will you be out there having the time of your life, those following your journey will feel invested in your success, and you will be expanding your positive footprint in our world by raising money for a nonprofit organization. It’s fun and super easy!

In the celebratory spirit of planning a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail in June 2021, I thought, why the heck not make every mile count for someone other than myself? Imagine the collective impact we could have on our world if we all used a hike as a fundraiser!

Why to consider it:

  1. Why not? – If you’re planning a hike, you’re walking anyway, right? Nothing about that will change.
  2. Motivation – Talk about adding another level of motivation! If a hiker knows that every single mile she walks adds donor dollars to a cause for which she is passionate, it makes it more appealing to walk through even the worst of conditions. It makes quitting less of an easy option knowing others are counting on you.
  3. Quick and easy – At minimum, creating a fundraising campaign will take you about an hour. Although you can take the effort as far as you’d like and spend time recruiting donors, if you want bare minimum, this effort does not take a huge time commitment.
  4. The need is great – Nonprofit organizations have been hit hard by our COVID-19 world. In this survey, 73% of reporting organizations are showing significant drops in revenue. We need to think outside of the box for ways to support the organizations that do so much good in our world during what has been an uphill battle kind of year for nonprofits.

How to do it:

  1. Choose your adventurePlan a hike that will personally challenge you. This could mean choosing a particular trail to complete or walking a certain number of miles in a month. You might even consider the 52 Hike Challenge and seek pledges for each hike you complete.
  2. Pick a cause Choose a nonprofit organization with a mission that speaks to your heart like no other. Guidestar is a great place to start learning what’s out there.
  3. Set up a campaignUtilize a free campaign platform. I’m using Pledgeit. It’s easy to use, the customer service is out of this world, and 100% of the pledge amounts go to the nonprofit organization you choose. Donors do not get charged their pledge amount until after the conclusion of your hike so that the final amount can truly be based on your miles accomplished. You can opt for the funds to go straight to the nonprofit so that donations are tax-deductible, or you can connect your personal bank account so that the funds go to you to disperse them to the nonprofit upon completion of your hike. Hint: You’ll generate more revenue and eager donors by having the donations go directly to the nonprofit.
  4. Share your campaignPledgeit makes it easy by providing you with a link to your campaign that you can share with your family and friends. Post it on social media. If you really want to go all out, have business cards made that link to your campaign. These can be placed in targeted areas and businesses in your community and distributed to those you meet on trail who want to support your cause.

Clarity’s 2021 “Paws for a Hike” Fundraiser

We all need to pause for a hike sometimes in our fast-paced lives. On June 25, 2021, I will do just that and attempt a thru-hike of the John Muir Tail, encompassing 211 miles. Each mile is will earn money from each person who chooses to pledge. Currently every mile I walk is worth more than $50! The funds will be split between two local animal rescue nonprofit organizations, Athenspets and the Athens Area Humane Society. The past year has been extremely difficult for these two organizations due to decreased revenue and volunteer efforts resulting from COVID, and someone’s got to be a voice for these little guys!

Animal rescue has been part of my core since I was a kid who would always choose stuffed animals over dolls as my playthings. In the last 20 years, I have worked in a volunteer capacity to lower the animal euthanasia rate in Athens, and we’ve made massive positive progress! In the year 2000, the euthanasia rate in the Athens community was near a heartbreaking 70%. The internet was a relatively new household innovation, so seeing a need to promote the animals at the shelter hoping for a home, I created and helped maintain www.Athenspets.net, and immediately, we started showing promising results. Year after year, the live release rate increased, and more and more animals found loving homes. We grew our volunteer base to help in the effort, and in 2015, Athenspets became a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. In 2020, less than 5% of animals at the municipal shelter were euthanized. We have come so far and are working tirelessly to maintain that momentum!

The Athens Area Humane Society has had a presence in the Athens community since 1899. Officially becoming a nonprofit in 1970, the organization has grown substantially! In the last six years, the organization’s rigorous spay and neuter program has prevented over 41,300 potential kittens from being born without homes! The organization has also rescued and placed over 20,000 homeless animals into loving homes since 2014. The humane society is currently raising funds for a state-of-the-art animal medical care and adoption center that will increase the number of pets that can be healed, helped, and homed by an astonishing 250%! The funds raised in my Paws for a Hike campaign will go directly to help the humane society get into their new building so they can get busy nearly tripling the impact on our region’s homeless cat and dog population.

That’s it, folks! If you have any questions about hiking for a cause, feel free to email Clarity at PawsforaHike@gmail.com! Happy trails and happy tails!

Clarity with her 17-year-old “Athenspet”, Scruffy, and her 7-year-old rescue, Maya

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