During 2016, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is celebrating being 10 years old! Ten years of the European outdoor industry funding conservation work in the great outdoors. In that time, the Association has funded work in over 36 different countries around the world, making a real difference to threatened habitats, species and landscapes.
As part of EOCA’s celebration of its tenth year, a series called ‘Ten Faces of EOCA’ will feature on our website throughout the year. These ten faces will be people who have been key to the success of the Association, or people who represent key partners of the Association. It may even be the face of a species that has benefited from the Associations work! It’s going to be tough to choose only 10!
For our ninth face, we are featuring the EOCA members – without whom, none of what EOCA does would be possible. And we are cheating here since it is just too tricky to choose one member to focus on since all members are vital! By working together, members have been able to raise over €2 million in ten years, all of which EOCA has spent on conservation projects around the world. The outdoor industry really is having a significant impact on the conservation of the great outdoors – unrivalled in any other industry.
EOCA is very fortunate to have around 130 members currently. Some have been members since the organsiation first started in 2006. Some have gone on to become Summit Members –funding entire projects- or Sustaining Members, covering the running costs of the Association. Others have provided board members for the Association, or contacts with their atheletes as ambassadors for EOCA. All members pay a membership fee annually, which is how EOCA funds its vitally important conservation projects. 100% of membership fees are spent on the conservation projects.
In addition to their membership fee, many members get involved in fundraising activities to help EOCA raise even more money for conservation. At each of two large European tradeshows in Germany each year, EOCA hosts a Conservation Fundraiser. EOCA members donate loads of gear – from backpacks, waterproof jackets and footwear to camping equipment, cycling equipment and drinking bottles. Visitors to the shows then make a donation of 50% of the retail price to buy the gear and 100% of the donation is spent on conservation by EOCA. Also at the shows, members have found a range of fun and innovative ways to raise more money for EOCA, from happy hours and parties, to smoothie bikes, a sock vending machine, dirty water drinking challenge and even customised EOCA products.
Members support EOCA in other ways too. Some members get involved in finding and nominating a conservation organisation they think should apply to EOCA for funding – either because it is close to their office or that they already support in other ways. Others get very involved in the voting to help choose which projects on the shortlist receive funding from EOCA both through the private members’ vote and the public vote which reaches millions of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Others provide gear and equipment to the people working on the projects.
Membership of EOCA is very much a bespoke partnership for each and every member. Members can get as involved as they wish in the annual cycle of activities run by the Association. In addition, EOCA is always pleased to hear of new and fresh ideas from members on ways to raise more money, support more projects or raise awareness of important conservation issues.
More members really does mean more money for conservation. So if you are involved in a company linked to the European outdoor industry, encourage them to join their peers in making a difference to the magnificant outdoor habitats, landscapes and wildlife we all love to hear, see and explore.