cindy-laquidara-jacksonville-charity-hikingThere are over 44 million hikers/backpackers in the United States, making hiking one of the most popular recreational activities in the country. In the past, I’ve explained the benefits of hiking, which include heart health, mental health and just a great way to stay fit, so it’s not a surprise that it continues to grow in popular every year. However all of these benefits are for the individual.

Still, hikers have a heart for helping others. Hiking for a cause, like the act itself, is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to a number of websites and online resources dedicated to merging philanthropy with outdoor activity. One such website, HikeFor.com, has created a very simple but exciting system to make this possible.

How HikeFor Works:

Hikers and backpackers create profiles on the site, and in the spirit of crowdfunding, share their plans and profile on social media. From there, their personal networks can pledge to donate a certain amount of cents or dollars per mile, meaning longer hikes generate more donations. HikeFor is not a registered charity (yet), therefore receives none of the proceeds from donations. 100% of the pledged funds go to your chosen cause.

As far as the causes which are supported, HikeFor has a rather extensive list of charities it supports, from nature-specific options like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to others which support medical research (Alzheimer’s Association) or animal welfare (ASPCA). If there’s a particular cause you want to support that isn’t listed, you can submit an email requesting its addition.

Why It’s Great:

Of course the primary reason this is exciting, and the very impetus for this blog, is that it generates funding for important, life changing causes. In addition to that, it keeps you accountable to the hiking goals you’ve set for the year. Many of those who’ve signed up on the HikingFor site are in the pre-hiking phase, or have not yet embarked on the journey for which they’re raising money. Yet, by sharing your profile online, making sure others are aware and actually generating support from the community may motivate you to not only begin the journey but actually push yourself to complete the trail.

If you know of other websites or organization which facilitate the desire to hike for charity, please Tweet me at @CindyLaquidara, so I can share it with my followers and include it in future posts.