Seattle-based outdoors company evo is pledging $10 million over 10 years to women- and BIPOC-led nonprofits that focus on breaking down barriers to the outdoors for underrepresented communities.
The hope is the gifts will inspire others to donate similarly on Giving Tuesday — and to focus on giving, as opposed to merely spending, during this holiday season.
The donations will give organizations like The Service Board, Brown Girl Surf, Bike Works, SHRED Foundation, Skate Like A Girl and Indigenous Women Outdoors the ability to plan ahead, a rare luxury in the nonprofit world.
“Instead of doing one gift on Giving Tuesday, I’ve actually already made the commitments — the organizations already have the money in the bank,” said Ashley Miller, evo’s senior manager of community impact. “And they know how much money they’re getting from us for the next several years so that they can develop their programming around that, which I think is quite different.”
Each nonprofit has a mission of helping children improve quality of life through the outdoors, particularly where access can be difficult. Miller said evo looked “specifically for organizations that are led by Black, Indigenous and people of color, because that is one of our real priorities: How are we shifting power and investing resources in communities that have seen the greatest barrier to access to the outdoors?”
The company sells gear for a variety of outdoors pursuits, including skiing, camping, mountain biking and snowboarding, and has eight stores in the U.S. and Canada, with plans to open more. evo set aside 6.5% of its net income in 2020 for the long-term impact project. The outdoors market is booming as nature lovers seek relief from the stress and anxiety of the pandemic.
“evo has seen tremendous success and we’ve been growing really rapidly in the last several years,” Miller said. “And one of the incredible things is that that success is directly tied to our impact budget and what I’m allowed to do in the community. And so this is far and away our biggest gift.”
Three of the six organizations receiving the gifts are based in the Seattle area.
The Service Board uses the pursuit of social justice through service and snowboarding to help children make change in their communities and gain access to the outdoors. Bike Works promotes the bicycle as a vehicle for change to empower youth and build resilient communities. And the goal for Skate Like A Girl is to create an inclusive community by promoting confidence, leadership and social justice through skateboarding.
Layla Anane knows firsthand the impact of The Service Board. She first encountered the organization as a teen. Sixteen years later, she’s its director of development and communications.
“We were started when a couple of community members unfortunately went through the death of a young person that they were mentoring,” Anane said of the 26-year-old organization. “And this young person also loved to snowboard, so they decided to found an organization that would provide space for youth to come together to discuss pertinent issues in their community, around social justice and the environment, and then complete service projects in the community. So, it’s really cultivating this culture of giving back. And then, on top of that, it’s providing access to outdoor activities that are pretty inaccessible to a lot of our young folks, like snow sports specifically.”
Anane said the pandemic has been tough for small organizations like The Service Board, which can’t afford to hire a full-time grant writer or dedicate staff to fundraising. So the nonprofit relies on individual gifts. Anane hopes her organization can leverage evo’s investment to increase individual giving.
“It motivates that individual giving, which is super important to us,” Anane said. “For a small organization like us, individual contributors, they give almost a third of our revenue. They’re really important for us to be able to keep our doors open and keep providing services. Unrestricted support of individuals coming in is really our lifeline.
“So I also like the idea of giving of Giving Tuesday really being an annual way to encourage a culture of giving versus spending.”
Organizations interested in learning more about evo’s long-term impact program or applying for funding should visit evo.com/community/impact.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that evo is pledging $10 million over the next 10 years to various women- and BIPOC-led outdoors groups, including the six listed in this story. An earlier version of this story misstated that those six organizations alone would receive funding.