Raising fun — and funds — across the West

For more than 50 years, our amazing readers have sustained our work through subscriptions and donations.


Our philanthropy team in Capitol Reef National Park.

Fundraising is a fact of life for most nonprofits. Those of you who get hit up for donations for a multitude of causes every time you turn around might see it as a rather grim and wearisome one. Indeed, asking folks to repeatedly open their wallets is the kind of chore most of us would rather avoid. But that’s not how High Country News’ FUNraising team rolls. Led by the ever-buoyant Alyssa Pinkerton, our director of philanthropy, its five members know how to have a good time while still bringing home the (free-range or vegan-style) bacon that nourishes our organization. In late August, Alyssa led team members on a camping retreat to Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to refresh their batteries and map out plans for the year ahead. Two days and nights of stargazing, hiking, rockhounding and general merriment (Of course we also made time for productive work!) reminded everyone why we enjoy raising money for HCN. “We get to really see the West in our travels and build friendships with fascinating and generous people,” says Alyssa. “What’s not fun about that?”

High Country News has been a nonprofit operation almost since our founding in 1970, relying on a mix of reader subscriptions and donations to sustain our work. Year-end giving provides almost a quarter of our annual revenue. Look for our mailed and emailed pitches this November about the time you sit down to eat your turkey. (Don’t wait until after you eat; you’ll be much too busy snoring on the couch, just like we will.) We will joyfully receive whatever you can send our way.

Joe Jackson’s daughter, Alaska, with the September edition of High Country News.

WE LOVE ALL OF OUR READERS, of course, whether or not they are able to give money on top of their subscriptions. We especially love those who aren’t quite old enough to get an allowance, or even read, for that matter. Joe Jackson of Provo, Utah, discovered his daughter, Alaska, thumbing through a recent edition of High Country News, confirming her budding appreciation for nature. “She loves watching the deer, juncos and squirrels,” Joe told us in his note. “Thanks, HCN, for bringing up the topics that will ensure a beautiful West for her and her little brother to enjoy.”

SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN in March of 2020, we’ve had precious few physical gatherings with our readers, and we’ve missed them. But in September, we tested the waters with an outdoor party at the home of Andy Wiessner, in Snowmass, Colorado. Andy, our longest-serving board member with nearly 40 years under his belt, worked the phones with staff to entice nearly 100 HCN supporters for wine, food and words from former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and his conservationist spouse, Maggie Fox. They spoke of the deepening environmental and social perils facing the world, but said they were encouraged by the rising tide of young social and environmental activists. Their message to HCN: Keep enlarging the tent to include all of the West’s citizens in shaping its future. Publisher and Executive Director Greg Hanscom outlined the organization’s commitment to doing just that while remaining true to our deep roots in the land.

Readers and staff gather in Snowmass Village, Colorado, to support HCN.

THE DAY AFTER THE PARTY, HCN’s board of directors gathered virtually for a fall meeting for what we devoutly hope is the last all-cyber board meeting for a very long time. Top of the agenda was passing a new annual budget that reflects the priorities of our now-complete 50th Anniversary Campaign: a larger budget for the editorial team, a new staffer for our marketing team, market-rate pay for all employees (including interns and fellows), and a financial reserve that can cover three months of expenditures should things go south. The board also voted to bring two more stellar humans into its fold: Wendy Fisher, the longtime executive director of Utah Open Lands, and Rich Stolz, who recently wrapped up a stint as the executive director of One America, an immigrant and refugee advocacy organization. More about Wendy and Rich in a future issue. And finally, the board clarified its role in maintaining HCN’s editorial independence:

“While the board sets the mission of HCN and helps shape the values and editorial direction of HCN ... it does not get involved with the practice of journalism on the level of individual stories at the magazine. Decisions about which stories to pursue and publish, as well as how to execute them, are made by the staff.” 

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