Success Story: Alberta Wilderness Association

The Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) works throughout Alberta, Canada to develop a network of protected areas that allow refuge and movement for wildlife. The conservation group – one of the oldest in Alberta, having formed in 1965 – also works to secure biodiversity, clean water, and clean air. AWA looks to inspire a greater awareness of wilderness in Alberta, highlighting its importance and how to protect it for generations to come.

Every Earth Day weekend, AWA holds the Climb for Wilderness to help raise funds for their conservation activities. The Climb is closely connected to the community, increasing awareness of wilderness, wildlife and wild water in Alberta, while offering the athletic challenge of climbing 1,204 stairs. It attracts people of all ages and athletic abilities totaling more than 1000 participants and 150 volunteers annually. 2018 was the 27th Climb for Wilderness, representing more than half of AWA’s existence.

AWA uses Panorama’s peer-to-peer fundraising tool to gather their participants and keep them on track for their goals. Here’s what Christyann Olson, executive director of AWA had to say: “Panorama helps us increase our efficiency in several ways. Event registration is simplified and appears seamlessly from our main website to our fundraising tool with FrontStream. I think this feature gives our supporters confidence in using the online system. Issuing tax receipts is a major component of the tools we gain with Panorama. This was once a manual operation we handled after the event and now donors receive their tax receipt in seconds.” With Panorama’s tools, AWA made the 2018 Climb another successful one, raising nearly $100,000 and contributing to the continued awareness of AWA’s activities.

AWA’s work is vast and it often takes years to see results. The Climb for Wilderness is a key part of the ongoing strength and tenacity of the association. The creation of two new provincial parks protecting more than 100,000 hectares of critical habitat, Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park, was a recent milestone. Protection for the Castle means that critical habitat for threatened flora and fauna – including grizzly bears and wolverines along with limber and whitebark pines – is safe. The area also acts as an important wildlife corridor with other protected spaces in the region. Protection for this area has been a major AWA goal for more than 50 years.

To keep up interest in the Climb between years, AWA has been sending out “C4W Stories” to participants who gave permission to stay in touch, demonstrating how their fundraising is helping the association. “These e-mails will give you an idea of how your climb helps Alberta Wilderness Association continue its work. We're thrilled to say you helped raise over $93,000 and counting,” explains the initial e-mail, a great example of how to stay in contact with past donors while also helping to build a good story around fundraising efforts.

Take a tip from the AWA and develop a signature fundraising event that can be held yearly – not only is it a good focal point to structure a campaign around, but it can also be a great way to inspire your community to rally around your cause. Add in some useful fundraising tools and you'll be sure to reach new heights!

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