The REI Cooperative Action Fund is a community-supported nonprofit that supports organizations working to build a stronger culture surrounding the outdoor community. The fund promotes the REI Co-Op philosophy that the outdoors are for everyone and encourages more people to strive for life outdoors. REI Co-Op is a community-run company. It prides itself on the fact that those who become members are, in turn, partial owners of the business.
The Fund officially launched in 2021. To become a member, REI implemented a one-time fee of 30 dollars, and a portion of that payment is automatically donated to the fund on behalf of every new member. The Co-op has around 21.5 million members, and welcomes more from every store’s location and online daily. Each REI location has a handful of local nonprofits in their community that is part of the investments of the fund; this allows for more of a personal feel for those donating.
REI believes that access to the outdoors is a human right, and the fund has three main focuses to make that a reality, connecting people outside, creating space outside, and entering health outside. They announce investments in new nonprofits throughout the year, and members are encouraged to suggest new ones for the next expansion of the fund. Through the Co-op fund, REI also recognizes that its offices are located on the ancestral lands of Indigenous people, and much of our time spent outside also occupies our country’s Native Lands.
According to Snow Industry News, it was recently announced that REI would be investing $1.98 million in 34 different nonprofits aligning with their goal to promote equality, justice, and equity in the outdoor community. This latest investment brings the Co-op fund’s total investment to over $3.4 million this year alone.
This holiday season, REI has decided to give members and shoppers the option to make donations to the fund in-store at their registers, along with the section on their website where people can make direct donations of the amount of their choice. Both members and non-members of the Co-op are encouraged to donate and voice their support for legislation impacting the outdoors along with REI’s access to the purchase of used gear to aid in lessening their carbon footprint with the help of resources on REI’s website.
The REI Cooperative Fund primarily focuses on creating a larger space for marginalized communities in the outdoors, outdoor activities, and sports. The world of outdoor sports has always been more closed off to specific groups of people, and REI’s mission with the fund and their expansion of the Co-op membership is meant to reverse these issues.