Advocate Beta - November 2019

Categories: LCO 101

Fall is a great time to be a climber, and a really busy time to be a climbing advocate. Somehow, though, we do it. Everything seems to go off in the fall: climbing festivals, trail days, fundraisers, and climbing conditions that make you want to just drop everything and get out. How do you do it? Climbing advocates balance family, work, and their own passion for climbing, all while pouring hours and hours of sweat and blood into protecting our climbing areas. As you finish out your 2019, step back for a minute and imagine thousands of other dedicated advocates, like you, across the U.S. That’s what I do when I need a little motivation. They are carrying climbing areas on their shoulders, and always inviting the climbing community to join in and lift with them. You can glimpse some of these inspiring folks in the National Summit recap below, and get some fundraising tips from the Access Fund team as you roll into the holiday season. As always, thanks for your work and partnership.

Happy Holidays,

Zachary Lesch-Huie
National Affiliate Director

Seattle Summit Success

There’s nothing quite like sitting in a room with people from across the country and knowing what we all have in common is our passion for climbing and our concern about issues threatening access to the areas where we love to climb. Access Fund’s Climbing Advocacy Summit Workshops are designed to bring the climbing community together to share the lessons learned from climbing access successes and even some failures so that advocates don’t have to start from scratch and can get right to taking action. We just finished 2019’s National Summit in Seattle with our biggest crowd yet and the most diverse set of panels. You can check out the agenda and the presentations at accessfund.org/summits. Keep an eye on that page for information on the date and location of the next Climbing Advocacy Summit Workshops.
~Jenna Winkler, Access Fund Program Associate

Photo courtesy of Brian Poon

Stewarding Corporate Relationships

Stewardship and conservation work takes manpower and money if you want to accomplish your LCO’s goals. While mustering volunteers can be challenging, so can pulling together sufficient funds from your membership base to support a project. For many LCOs, reaching out to companies for a corporate sponsorship can be a way to bridge the gap in support. We have partners in the for-profit side of the industry who share the same concern for our crags that we do, and have the ability to support our work through donated products, cash, and volunteer support. Receiving donated products is usually easier than cash, but both are possible depending on the size of the company and the fit between the company and the project. Newer and smaller brands tend to prefer to donate products because it spreads awareness of their brand while providing you with an item that supports your cause. When seeking products, make sure they can easily be turned into cash or have a direct use for your program. Silent auctions and raffles during gym events are a good way to make money from these items and also provide a platform for the brand to do a little promotion.

Return on investment (ROI) is a critical and sometimes overlooked component of a successful fundraising strategy. Brands want to support your work because they believe in it, but they also typically want to be recognized publicly for their support. When working with a brand, create a proposal or contract that details what is expected of both parties. Having this document is crucial, as it helps guide the partnership and provides a tangible list of deliverables for each side. When approaching a brand, one of the first questions to ask is "What do they like to support?" Their answers will give you a lot of insight into how they give, what they are willing to support, and how to best approach them to begin this ask — or whether you need to look for a different company to support your work.
~Michael Fitzgerald, Access Fund Corporate Partnerships Manager

Conservation Team’s 2019 Wrapup

As Conservation Team National, we travel to a different climbing area almost every week. Partnering with LCOs allows us to make the most of our short time in each location. LCOs know the history of the area, past stewardship projects, high-use areas, and priority projects, and they often have a relationship with the land manager. In 2019, we worked at big destination climbing areas, small backyard crags, and everything in between.

Two extra-memorable projects with good LCO engagement involved Southern Nevada Climbers Coalition (SNCC) and Black Hills Climbers Coalition (BHCC). While many climbing festivals include a stewardship component, the Inaugural Red Rock Rehab event was built solely around stewardship and strengthening climber relationship with the park. SNCC did an awesome job organizing and advertising the event (both days were sold out!). Once we arrived, we had a productive meeting with the climbing ranger and SNCC leadership, where we walked through the project tasks and talked through the logistics of the weekend. Each year, a Conservation Team visits BHCC and chips away at another section of the trail. This year we added more stairs and improved the drainage system. The local climbing community is very in tune with their resources, and it shows through the consistent efforts of volunteers. There is a good relationship between original developers like Ron Yahne and the new BHCC leadership, which helps preserve institutional knowledge.

LCOs’ local expertise is critical for our success as a group. Check out some ways you can prepare for a Conservation Team visit:

  • Establish a main point of contact for communication.
  • Identify ideal work location(s).
  • Communicate before our arrival to set up a site visit.
  • Develop a general plan on how and where to disseminate volunteer information (for example, gyms, Facebook pages, brew pubs).
  • Locate a place for us to camp/stay during our visit.

Interested in having Conservation Team support at your crag? Reach out to Access Fund Stewardship Director Ty Tyler.
~Kate Hanes & Chris Winters, Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team National

Photo courtesy of Kriz Ugarriza

Managing Your LCO’s Event Presence

The weather will eventually turn too cold for climbing at many areas across the U.S., and when that happens, your LCO can take advantage of the downtime to gather your crew and raise funds for next year’s projects. At Access Fund, November through the end of the year is the most crucial time frame for fundraising — your LCO should also tap into the benefits of asking for support during the giving season! Check out these tips on starting or managing your event presence:

  • Seek out "plug and play" opportunities. These are events that are already planned and give you the space to show up and a table. Make sure you put your
    merchandise on display for those looking to buy holiday gifts.
  • Ask a company to donate a portion of proceeds back to your organization. Access Fund typically uses this strategy with "pint nights" at breweries or day passes at climbing gyms.
  • Create an event with a theme and key messaging. You can set the tone for the next year with a specific goal in mind that your organization wants to accomplish, such as a stewardship project or a land acquisition.

For more tips on planning events, take a look at the notes from the Digital Fundraising & Hosting Successful Events presentation from our Seattle Climbing Advocacy Summit.
~Heather Distad, Access Fund Events and Outreach Manager

Movers & Shakers

Washington Climbers Coalition
Access Fund’s National Climbing Advocacy Summit of 2019 would not have been possible without Washington Climbers Coalition’s (WCC) local support and input. We are thankful for WCC’s guidance and expertise in the Northwest.
Learn More

Illinois Climbers Association
Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) is crushing it in the Midwest, opening new access on city and state lands. And then there’s the big news on Holy Boulders — ICA has paid off the loan on the Holy Boulders acquisition!
Learn More

Carolina Climbers Coalition
Carolina Climbers Coalition is having an outstanding year, with new access and stewardship projects in North and South Carolina, and an incredible mobilization of climber-volunteers — 400 volunteers and 2,300 hours at climbing areas in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Learn More

New in the Resource Center