Over the last few decades, surfers have become increasingly aware of their impact on the planet. As a result, a host of surf-related nonprofit organizations have emerged that are taking the initial strides to enact positive social, environmental, and global change. The list below features 10 noteworthy nonprofit organizations that are leading the way in the new age of “surf-activism.” —Ryan Waldron
Headquarters: San Clemente, CA
What They Stand For: Surfrider fights for the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network.
Why You Should Care: They are taking momentous steps forward in ocean protection and preservation. Currently, there are 70 Surfrider chapters located along the US East, West, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaiian, and Puerto Rico coasts.
How to Help: Get involved by familiarizing yourself with current issues that affect your chapter area. Become a member, donate, volunteer, and make responsible choices to keep our beaches clean.
Headquarters: Laguna Beach, CA
What They Stand For: The Mauli Ola Foundation began as a group of surfers who banded together in 2007 to promote education and awareness of genetic disease, and to increase research for genetic disorders. They also host events that use surfing as a natural treatment for people with cystic fibrosis.
Why You Should Care: Natural healing and mindful activities for children with genetic disorders have the ability to transport the mind. Mauli Ola has taken nearly 1,300 CF patients and has now expanded it’s reach with hospital visits and other activities that touch the lives of kids with cancer and a variety of other health challenges.
How to Help: Since Mauli Ola operates as a nonprofit, 100 percent of proceeds go to Mauli Ola Foundation programs. Contribute by donating or shopping at their store.
Headquarter Location: San Diego, CA
What They Stand For: To give back to those who’ve been wounded in service to our country by teaching them to surf and sharing our love of the ocean.
Why You Should Care: Soldiers putting their lives on the line for our well-being is altruism at its best. Now it’s time we return the favor by spreading the love of surfing to the warriors who give us the freedom to continue doing what we love.
How to Help: Operation Amped puts on surf events throughout the year ranging in duration from one day to a week. Volunteer at an event or donate.
Headquarters: Encinitas, CA
What They Stand For: Founded in 2000, SurfAid is a nonprofit humanitarian organization whose aim is to improve the health, well-being, and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected to us through surfing.
Why You Should Care: As surfers travel to isolated locations around the world, it is our duty to look out for the well-being of those people who so gratefully offer their land, culture, and barrels.
How to Help: Donate, organize a fundraiser to raise money that supports the cause, raise awareness by spreading the word, and shop in their online store.
Waves for Water
Headquarters: Santa Monica, CA
What They Stand For: Waves For Water works on the front-line to provide clean water to communities in need around the world.
Why You Should Care: Clean water is the fundamental building block for a healthy society. People living in impoverished areas die every day from drinking dirty water. While having access to clean water is a luxury that many of us take for granted, there are millions living in nations with no filtration systems in place. Providing clean water to those in need is the first step to revitalizing a healthy planet.
How to Help: Get involved by becoming a member, organizing a fundraiser, making a charitable donation, or purchasing your very own water filtration device available on their website.
Surfing for Change
Headquarters: Santa Cruz, CA
What They Stand For: Surfing for Change’s goal is to spread awareness, motivation, and promote action from surfers and non-surfers alike.
Why You Should Care: Surf-locations around the world are increasingly threatened by pollution, climate change, and industrialization. Surfers have the unique responsibility to take action for the protection of the oceans and environment.
How to Help: Anyone can sign up for the newsletter to receive videos and links to information about current projects. Kyle regularly posts videos full of information about taking personal responsibility and action in our everyday lives. “My goal is to have my website serve as an on ramp for participation and help you get involved with other organizations doing good work.”
Save the Waves Coalition
Headquarters: Davenport, CA
What They Stand For: “Save The Waves Coalition is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the coastal environment, with an emphasis on the surf zone, and educating the public about its value.”
Why You Should Care: Some of the best surf locations have vanished forever because of coastal developments. Getting involved with Save the Waves is a strategic way to protect coastal regions in the world that are facing a similar fate.
How to Help: Since Save the Waves Coalition is a nonprofit organization that operates with little overhead, donations go directly toward campaigns and programs that protect and preserve costal surfing environments. There are also opportunities to become a member, shop at the store, volunteer, or even intern with the coalition.
Headquarters: Imperial Beach, CA
What They Stand For: Just over a decade ago WiLDCOAST set out to protect some of the most beautiful and biologically significant coastal areas in California and Latin America. Today, WiLDCOAST operates 4 main programs—Wildlife Conservation, Marine Life Conservation, Coastal Conservation, and Climate Change.
Why You Should Care: In this era of overproduction, mindless consumption, and irresponsible disposal, surfers need a strategic, smart, passionate and relentless organization to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems. As surfers, it is our job to ensure the ocean and its amazing wildlife will still be here for future generations.
How to Help: WiLDCOAST cannot continue doing this important work without the public’s help. WiLDCOAST depends on donors, volunteers, interns, and the community to support their conservation efforts. Stay connected by subscribing to WiLDCOAST’s email newsletter, get involved with online communities, or donate.
1% For the Planet
Headquarters: Waitsfield, VT
What They Stand For: 1% For the Planet aims to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. They offer simple, tangible and proactive way for the business community to be a part of the solution.
Why You Should Care: By giving 1% of sales to environmental nonprofit organizations, 1% For the Planet is re-defining standard business practices by encouraging real solutions to environmental problems.
How to Help: As conscious consumers, we have the responsibility to spend our money wisely. Support businesses who are doing their part of the environment, or get your business involved.
Headquarters: San Clemente, CA
What They Stand For: Sustainable Surf seeks to help transform the surf industry and community from its current unsustainable operating model to a global model of sustainability in action.
Why You Should Care: Surfers must be educated about lifestyle choices they can make to lower their impact on the ocean and environment. Sustainable Surf works in partnership with key players within the surfing industry to help spread these campaigns.
How to Help: Change starts with smart consumers; the surf industry is worth $7 billion worldwide and every product in surfing has alternative materials that work as good as the petrochemical-based products. Surfing consumers can influence the industry significantly by making environmentally friendly choices when purchasing products.