Running a Local Climbing Organization

Local climbing organizations (or LCOs as we lovingly refer to you) play a critical role in protecting America’s climbing. You are the first line of defense when a local access issue occurs.

While your LCO’s mission is clearly focused on supporting your local climbing areas, you’re probably keenly aware that is only half the battle. A surprising amount of work is required to get an organization up and running and keep it operating smoothly. It’s an ongoing process, full of challenges and rewards.

The good news is that you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—reinvent the wheel. The Access Fund is here to help. Our national network of LCOs has never been stronger, and it is easier than ever to connect with other LCOs and learn from successful models for organizational structure, fundraising, and organizing volunteers.

Contact us at 303-545-6772 or [email protected] for help. If you have resources worth sharing, send them to us and we’ll add them to the Resource Center below.

None of the information on this site should be considered legal advice. The following information was not drafted by an attorney. The guidelines concerning the formation of LCOs are a set of best practices, written from the perspective of a non-profit, not a law firm. This is a good starting point, but it is always advisable to consult a licensed attorney, especially if you have concerns about liability, tax status, or incorporation under the laws of your state.

Resource Center

Guide to Starting an LCO

Ready to start a local climbing organization? Read this helpful guide first.

Joint Member Basics

Check out what Joint Membership means and what it can do for your LCO.

Guide to Joint Membership Event Sign-Ups

At events, there are two ways for people to join or renew their Joint Membership: 1) paper forms and 2) the new joint member event web portal. You can use whichever is most convenient for you.

Pros and Cons of 3 LCO Types

Not sure if you should incorporate or pursue 501(c)(3) status? Get the lowdown.

Incorporation and 501(c)(3)

Incorporating and acheiving 501(c)(3) status are milestones for any grassroots non-profit. Is it the right step for your organization?

Does Your LCO Need 501(c)(3) Status?

The ins and outs of applying for 501(c)(3) status for your local climbing organization.

Optimize Online Donations

Best practices for optimizing online donations.

Build Relationships with New Climbers

Connecting with new climbers is essential to the future of your local climbing organization.

Initiate a Conservation Team Visit

Need stewardship help at your local climbing area? Learn how to connect with the Conservation Team.

Organizing an Adopt a Crag

The basics for organizing an Adopt a Crag volunteer stewardship event.

Graffiti Removal

Learn best practices for graffiti removal at your climbing area.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout

Tips for avoiding burnout with your local climbing organization volunteers.

Applying for Grants

Tips for getting grant funding to support your local projects.


Tips for mapping your local climbing areas.

Partner with Public Land Managers

Best practices for partnering with public land managers.

Recreational Leases

An overview providing the basics for setting up a recreational lease with a landowner or manager.