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Run the Alps Holiday Guide to Giving (For When You Have Enough Stuff)

Run the Alps Holiday Guide to Giving (For When You Have Enough Stuff)

Nov 28, 2023

Here are a few suggestions for holiday giving from Run the Alps Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility Hillary Gerardi.

Got enough stuff yet?

Yeah, us too. 

This year, instead of yet another holiday gift guide, the crew here at Run the Alps has pooled their knowledge and developed this short list of our favorite nonprofits to support in the region in which we work. 

We focussed on trail running and the outdoors, an area of interest to all of us.

In addition to our usual donation via 1% for the Planet, Run the Alps will also make a gift this holiday season to each of these organizations.

If you’d like to lend a hand, too, here are a few organizations we can suggest:

Balcon Nord above Chamonix
On the Balcon Nord above the Chamonix valley. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Nonprofit: CREA Mont-Blanc – The Research Center for Alpine Ecosystems 

Key Areas: Science, climate change, biodiversity 

What you are supporting:  CREA Mont-Blanc is a non-profit based in Chamonix, France that focuses on understanding the impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems. Founded in 1996, they have been pioneers of citizen science in France and are committed to helping people understand how biodiversity is being impacted by global change.

We’re especially psyched about their new citizen science platform SPOT, with programs like the online initiative Wild Mont Blanc, where you can help identify animals in photos taken by their camera traps.

When would you have come across them before? Run the Alps has been supporting CREA Mont-Blanc through our 1% for the Planet donation for 7 years – you might have seen one of our blog posts about them or noticed them cited in our pages about climate change. 

Nonprofit: Professional Trail Runners Association 

Key Areas: Trail running, future of the sport

What you are supporting: Founded in 2022, the Pro Trail Runners Association is a non-profit made up of elite runners representing a range of countries. As the sport of trail running continues to expand, the Pro Trail Runner’s organization gives athletes a united voice, defending the rights and interests of both elite and amateur runners and protecting the core values of the sport. Working groups focus on issues related to competition, antidoping, gender equality and women’s rights, accessibility, environmental issues and more. Examples of projects taken on in 2023 include pushing the UTMB® to make changes to their pregnancy and family deferral policies and developing environmental guidelines for competitions. 

The operating budget of the Professional Trail Runners Association is low, since working groups and the board are all made up of volunteers. Donations help pay for the secretary general, legal council, external consultants and event organization.

When would you have come across them before? Kilian Jornet is one of the founding members of the Professional Trail Runners Association. He and other athletes have been outspoken about the need for collaboration and critical thinking about the future of a rapidly growing sport. 

Nonprofit: Asters conservatoire d’espaces naturelles de Haute Savoie 

Key Areas: Nature, conservation, science, policy, education

What you are supporting: Asters is a nonprofit with a mission to preserve and showcase France’s mountainous Haute Savoie region’s natural heritage. This area includes Chamonix and much of the Tour du Mont-Blanc. Asters manages all nine of the nature reserves in the region, collaborates with decision makers on public policy, develops conservation programs, and carries out scientific research and educational activities. They also work directly with sporting events like trail races to help the organizers implement environmentally responsible policies. 

When would you have come across them before? One of the most popular runs in Chamonix is to Lac Blanc, which is located in the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges. If you’ve been before, you may have noticed fencing put up to stem erosion, or talked to one of Asters’ rangers, who educate hikers about biodiversity. 

Nonprofit: La Chamoniarde

Key Areas:  Safety, conditions, education

What you are supporting:  Initially founded in 1948 to coordinate mountain rescues in France’s Chamonix region, the Chamoniarde is a nonprofit dedicated to mountain safety. Its activities focus around educating and informing, as well as training and rescuing. It’s an invaluable resource for runners, hikers, skiers and alpinists who want to explore the Mont Blanc region. The Chamoniarde provides free, up-to-date information about trail and mountain conditions year-round. They also work with the French, Italian and Swiss rescue organizations, coordinate free public events and offer extremely affordable mountain safety courses in both summer and winter.  

When would you have come across them before? If you’ve been to Chamonix, you may have stopped into the Maison de la Montagne in the Triangle de l’Amitié, where the Chamoniarde, Chamonix Guides Company and French Ski School are located. Both locals and visitors alike (and Run the Alps staff) head there for advice and the most up-to-date information. 

La Chamoniarde does not have an online donation portal, so Run the Alps will be donating directly to this great nonprofit. Please contact us to donate.

Nonprofit: YAMBI

Key Areas: Refugees, integration, inclusivity 

What you are supporting: Yambi was founded as a complement to the existing emergency assistance programs that serve the refugee population in our region. Based in Annecy, France, they propose a variety of different activities centered around mountain sports, language, socio-professional skills and the arts with the aim of helping new arrivals to integrate into the local community. Yambi provides many opportunities for the French and refugee populations to come together through shared experiences. They create lasting relationships with their beneficiaries by building long term projects together, like an ascent of Mont Blanc in 2022.

When would you have come across them before? This is probably the first time you’ve seen Yambi! We discovered their organization this year and are working with them to add some more trail running to the programs offered to refugees. 

Nonprofit: From Care to Where?

Key Areas: Coaching, mentoring, youth

What you are supporting: Here’s a great cause that comes directly from Run the Alps – this story is featured in an upcoming film in the 2023-2024 Run the Alps film festival.

David Ervine entered the UK’s care system when he was two months old, ultimately living with 16 foster families and experiencing two spells in secure units before his 17th birthday. 

The running community was a big part of shifting David off his path, towards something better. Ultimately, it led to UTMB Mont-Blanc, in August 2023. Donating to this new endeavor will help get young people from urban environments moving in nature, at home and abroad.

David’s fundraising has a goal to mentor and coach a variety of young people who are experiencing the challenges he himself overcame with support from others. As part of the project, he’ll also purchase outdoors gear, including mountain bikes, tents and paddle boards. 

When would you have come across them before? They’re new, so you probably haven’t yet heard of them! But soon, you’ll be able to watch the film about David.

*Most French nonprofits use the platform HelloAsso for collecting donations. HelloAsso is a social and solidarity company, which provides its payment technologies for free to the selected organization. In the upper right hand side of the donation platform, you can click on a small flag that will allow you to change the language from French to English. Please note that your donation may not be tax deductible if you are outside of France.

holiday giving in the alps
Alpenglow on Mont Blanc. (Photo: Sam Hill)