Three ways that are more effective than writing a check. If you love the outdoors chances are you want to protect it. Here’s how to take a more active approach, by becoming more engaged. 

Choose local organizations over national ones:  National organizations may have a larger presence, but local groups can have a surprising level of impact.  Along with meeting new people passionate about similar things, your time and skills are more likely to be put to greater use through connections within your community. Attend a local fundraiser or event in order to research groups that might be a match. 

Use your skills: There are lots of different ways to support a cause. Managing databases or writing grants isn’t glamorous, but both are critical to conservation efforts. If you’re tech savvy, offer to help with a website. Got a background in marketing? Help promote an event. The key is to go with your strengths. Don’t canvas if you don’t like people, or make calls if you’d rather be outside. Find ways to lend your strengths in places that can use them and in ways that others can’t.

Do your research, and then do something:  It’s important to learn what you can about a cause or organization first, but don’t let that take the place of real action. Analysis paralysis is common when sizing up how to make the biggest impacts, but you’ll learn more by doing, so go do it.

—Heather Ridge