Perhaps the only thing that feels better than grabbing your board and hitting the waves is helping those who are less fortunate than yourself. Yet giving back doesn’t mean you have to give up surfing—whether it’s the environment, the creatures of the ocean, or the community, there are plenty of ways to combine your passion for surf with your passion for helping others. Here are our top 7 surf non-profits:
If you’ve previously heard of any of the charities on this list, odds are it’s the Surfrider Foundation. Founded in 1984, Surfrider has grown to become one of the preeminent voices advocating for the protection of Earth’s oceans and beaches. With over 70 chapters spread across the Americas, Surfrider is dedicated to the sustainable promotion of all things tubular. Whether it’s improving water quality and beach access, or preserving surf spots and at-risk aquatic ecosystems, Surfrider is making the ocean and beaches a better place for surfers and land dwellers alike.
Founded in 2008 by a group of surfers, Mauli Ola is dedicated to spreading awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and promoting research into the disease. It was founded after an article published in a leading medical journal suggested that ocean water provides a natural therapy for those with CF. Each year, the group hosts a number of benefit events, ranging from beachside concerts to ‘surf experience days,’ in which surfers introduce surfing and other ocean-based activities as natural therapy for those with CF and other diseases.
Operation Amped is all about giving back to servicemen who were wounded in the line of duty. Founded in 2006, Operation Amped’s self-proclaimed mission is to “share the stoke of the surfing community and the healing potential of surfing with seriously ill, injured, or disabled U.S. military veterans and their families,” which they do through everything from fundraising for the vets to hosting multi-day surf clinics.
We surfers are a mobile bunch and are so lucky that our passion tends to bring us to some of the most beautiful, albeit remote, locales on the planet in search of that prefect wave. SurfAid is dedicated to helping out the locals of these remote areas that we are connected to through surfing, by providing a number of critical services including improving mother/child health, water sanitation, malarial vaccinations, and developing community health centers.
Save the Waves Coalition
This is truly a non-profit that is by surfers for surfers. The goal of the coalition is to protect coastal environments around the world, although they particularly focus on surf spots and why they are important to the overall ecosystems. With programs such as World Surfing Reserves working for the preservation of the best surf spots around the globe, Surfonomics to determine the economic value of a wave, and Endangered Waves to protect coastlines that are under threat from development or pollution, the Coalition is ultimately working to make sure that surfing stays possible for generations to come.
As their name suggests, Sustainable Surf is dedicated to making sure the surf industry develops along a sustainable trajectory by holding the industry and community accountable for its actions. The winner of a number of change maker awards, Sustainable Surf has some truly awesome programming, ranging from fundraising comps to the Ecoboard movement, dedicated to making the eco-friendly surfboards of the future.
Gary’s Surf School
So this isn’t technically a non-profit, but if you find yourself in South Africa sometime, be sure to stop by Gary Kleynhans’ surf school because he’s doing some amazing work. Founded in 2002, Kleynhans’ surf academy gives free lessons to street children around Cape Town in the afternoon. The basic idea is to get the kids hanging 10 rather than hanging out in the streets. Gary figured that by getting them on a board, it keeps them out of the trouble—and now 14 years later, it seems that he was right. The academy only continues to grow, attracting more instructors and kids every year.