As we sit on the edge of another year, with leaves falling and layers getting thicker, it’s time once again for us to reach out to you all and thank you for another year of support. We’ve come a long way since Mason and my first hike when we went out with a group of women. I still remember that day and the excited feeling I had when I walked up and saw women from my new mama group sitting on a picnic bench talking and waiting for me. They seemed so experienced with their three-month-olds. I felt so green. In hindsight, I had probably over prepared with my stroller. I had literally brought the entire nursery with me. (Did you experience that?)
They were so nice and gently talked me into leaving the stroller, the giant diaper bag and all of the extras. I was beyond my comfort zone. They helped me put on my soft-structured carrier that I was still really nervous about wearing and off we went. That feeling of camaraderie was what hooked me on hiking with others. My dream was that one day I would have a calendar online that I could go to and that there would be hikes all over town that I could pick from on any given day, knowing that my community would be there to support me. And I wanted to share that feeling and resource with everybody!
I still pinch myself at the fact that five years later, there are so many Hike it Baby communities all across the United States and beyond doing what I did that first day, gathering in a park and going for a hike with babies. I knew finding hiking buddies with babies would be a good thing for me emotionally and physically, but I didn’t realize it would be so infectious and end up creating real live communities for families everywhere.
As beautiful as it has been watching Hike it Baby blossom, with all of this growth that we have felt, there are also pain points. One of the hardest things is that no matter how hard we work at keeping Hike it Baby going and growing, we can never do enough. We are doing our best and we improve our organization daily, but there’s still a long road ahead of us. We need your help with this.
One of the hardest things for me personally is asking for donations for Hike it Baby, but I have to. It’s important for many reasons. First and foremost, the Government requires that our community show their support in what’s called “the public support test.” This simply means they want to see that the community, 300 branches strong, also financially donate to us. They want to see support beyond funding by sponsors. Donation drives like the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge, Giving Tuesday and our membership are a necessary part.
Our communities have grown immensely in the last year, but the same cannot be said for our public donations support. There are many reasons for this. I think one of the biggest reasons is people assume because we have grown so much that we’re doing fine and we don’t need funding. I wish this were true.
Of our 250,000 participating families, 101,567 have registered on our website and 16,150 families have purchased paid memberships. That’s less than 10% of registered Hikeitbaby.com users. This means that, at this time, we are not meeting what the government would like to see for support from our community.
Since Hike it Baby came into the picture in the outdoors industry, the government, other nonprofits and companies have all started including families with young children into the conversation. Before Hike it Baby, “family” in the outdoors meant mom, dad and maybe a pre-teen and a teenager. Hike it Baby is a community that builds and expands beyond that.
The Hike it Baby website allows us to move beyond Facebook groups and events or other outlets, which can be glitchy and not as secure. The website also allows us to reach families beyond those social media networks and is key to giving a home to our community. It also allows members to create the community and gatherings by posting hikes. The content is created by members: parents getting outside with their little ones.
What’s hard for us to show is all of the things going on behind the scenes like the technology we are currently improving and building on to help show family growth on trail, keeping the community connected through our website vs. forcing people on to social media. The Hike it Baby 30 Challenge tools are run by volunteers, who believe in getting families out there season after season. But all of this comes at a cost, which is why we need to ask for support every Giving Tuesday. This is a beautiful community we have all created together; help us keep it going. Please give today during this season of giving.
Last year on Giving Tuesday we raised a $830. We really appreciated that and every little bit helps us move the organization forward. But I also think we could do better together. Think about this: If every member of Hike it Baby gave a one-time donation of $5, we could provide support to get another 26,000 families hiking with us. Please help us with a small gift to help ensure that Hike it Baby keeps doing its job getting families together across the country, day after day.
Hike it Baby has proven over and over again that we are here for our community. We support members when natural disasters hit, we work with the city and state to help make our public lands more family-friendly, and we are constantly thinking of new ways to encourage more families to get out there. We are real-time community on demand for families who want to get outdoors. We believe no family should feel unsupported when they hit the trail and we take this very seriously. We know you believe in this mission too.
Please take a moment to consider donating something this Giving Tuesday. It can be $5, $10, $50, $100. Whatever works for your family. It all helps and we appreciate every dime. Any donation you make today is 100% tax-deductible, and this year, as a bonus, we have partnered with Sunday Afternoons to help encourage that donation.
Please donate today to help us keep our community thriving for many generations to come.