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Halfway Through, Campaign NOLS Going Strong By Larkin Flora, Communications Coordinator

ast December NOLS reached a major milestone for Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values, raising the first $10 million toward our $20 million campaign aimed at doubling the school’s endowment. Last year our lead supporters—NOLS Board members Amy Wyss and Fox Benton and former Board Chair Michael Schmertzler—challenged NOLS to raise the first $10 million by Dec. 31, 2011. With the help of friends, family, and the greater NOLS community, we were able to meet that challenge two weeks before our deadline! This support came from donations toward the endowment, as well as record staff participation and a strong first quarter for the NOLS Annual Fund. In addition to our lead donors helping us kick off the campaign with six- and seven-figure commitments, we are grateful to all our donors for the support we have received thus far; all gifts make a difference. Since Campaign NOLS’ inception, we have received many five-figure contributions that added up. Donors also often make pledges, allowing them to make smaller gifts in yearly installments. Since a gift can be pledged over a five-year period, what seems like relatively small donations will result in a more significant contribution over five years. Around the country, our volunteer-run National, Regional, and Staff Steering Committees have helped raise awareness of philanthropic priorities at NOLS. This spring will see Campaign NOLS events across the country including San Francisco on April 18, Washington, D.C. on April 20, and Boulder on May 3.

Ignacio Grez


Though we’re celebrating the milestone of reaching our 2011 goal, we still have a lot of mountain ahead of us. We’re pushing forward toward a capstone gift of $2 million if we reach $18 million in two years.

The Staff Steering Committee, made up of intown staff and instructors, has been working hard to educate staff about the importance of philanthropy at NOLS. The committee set a goal to reach 40 percent staff participation in fiscal year 2012 and set about soliciting their peers and coworkers. Their hard work has paid off, and staff participation is at a record high; less than halfway through fiscal year 2012 the percentage or staff donors has exceeded the rate from the entirety of 2010.

Looking forward to the final two years of Campaign NOLS, we feel confident in our ability to meet the challenges ahead. For more information about the next phase of the campaign, see What’s Next for Campaign NOLS? in the Campaign NOLS insert. For more information about Campaign NOLS, philanthropy at NOLS, or campaign events in your area, email us at or call us toll-free at (800) 332-4280.

As a long-term supporter and former trustee, I’m proud of the school for reaching the $10 million interim campaign goal. We’ve taken the initial steps toward ensuring that NOLS will be able to provide powerful educational experiences today, tomorrow, and for the next 50 years.

Fox Benton, Campaign NOLS Steering Committee and former NOLS Board of Trustees member

FRIENDS is for people committed to helpinG nols proVide the world’s best education in wilderness skills and leadership. This newsletter aims to provide useful and interesting information on charitable gift planning and supporters of the school. NOLS is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory services. State laws govern wills, trusts, and many charitable gifts, and these laws vary from state to state. While NOLS welcomes and encourages inquiries about the material in this publication, individuals should consult with their professional advisors when planning their wills or deferred gifts.

Charitable Gift Annuities Give to NOLS and boost your rate of return


n essential aspect of any team is the give and take between the members. At NOLS, groups frequently work together toward an outcome that is beneficial for everyone involved. In fundraising, that means offering an option for donors of all types, including those who wish to give to NOLS while continuing to receive an income from their gift.

WHAT ARE CHARITABLE GIFT A NNUITIES ? Charitable gift annuities are a simple and flexible way to give to the school. You donate assets to NOLS, and we reinvest them. Easy to create, this unique gift vehicle provides an income for you (and possibly one other person) for the remainder of your lifetime while leaving NOLS with a donation. Beneficiaries, or annuitants, receive fixed payments from the investment annually, a portion of which is received tax-free for a time. Donors may also find those fixed payments have a higher yield than their previous investment. At the end of the agreement, NOLS absorbs the balance of the donation. 2 FRIENDS



Imagine a long-time NOLS donor; we’ll call him Bill. He has a $10,000 certificate of deposit (CD), on which he is earning 2.15 percent interest. He wants to make a significant contribution to NOLS and chooses the gift vehicle that best suits his retirement needs: a charitable gift annuity. Bill transfers the money from his CD to NOLS. A simple contract between NOLS and Bill will ensure the school pays him a fi xed amount for the remainder of his life. The amount Bill receives is based on his age, the amount of his gift, interest rates, and whether or not he has another beneficiary. All of these factors go into determining the rate of his payments, as defined by the American Council on Gift Annuities. Because Bill is 70 years old, he will receive 5.1 percent of his gift’s value, or $510, annually. These payments will not change and will continue for the duration of Bill’s life. Once the agreement is complete, NOLS will receive the remainder of the funds left after the annual payments to Bill.

Charitable gift annuities provide a current income tax charitable deduction. They also provide a way to save capital gains tax on a gift of appreciated assets. Not only that, but a portion of the annual payments will also be received tax-free for a period of time. Since gift annuities can be funded with as little as $10,000, it can be a reasonable gift for those of more modest means, and with the immediate charitable income tax deduction on a portion of the gift, it is a tax-wise way to give.

IS A CHARITABLE GIFT A NNUITY R IGHT FOR ME ? Charitable gift annuities are perfect for individuals and couples who would like to make a significant contribution to an organization, are currently receiving a lowincome return, and would like to receive an increased revenue stream. Like Bill, annuitants might receive payments at a higher rate than they would receive from earned interest on other investments. These partially tax-free payments make the effective rate of return even higher.

Volunteers in action

NOLS Board Member VOLUNTEERS FOR CAMPAIGN NOLS By Melissa Hemken, Foundation Relations Officer


ichelle Sarti, of Kentfield, Calif., has served on the NOLS Board of Trustees since 2010, and, prior to that, sat for six years on the NOLS Advisory Council. Not content with just volunteering as a board member, Sarti is also co-chair of the Bay Area Steering Committee for Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values. “I have such great respect for the NOLS experience,” said the 1997 Rock Climbing and 2010 Brooks Range Backpacking grad. “NOLS gave me a completely unique opportunity for both personal growth and wilderness skill building. I learned so much about myself by living simply in the wilderness and waking up each day to a new challenge and adventure.” As a volunteer on her regional campaign steering committee, Sarti is fundraising for Campaign NOLS in her community, as well as reaching out to area grads and potential students. There are regional Campaign NOLS steering committees across the nation, and Sarti meets every few months with 10 other Bay Area committee members to plan events in their region. “I’m learning more from NOLS every day,” Sarti reflected. “The people I work with on the board, and NOLS faculty and staff, are very invested in teaching others about the wilderness environment and providing the tools to be great leaders.” When not supporting NOLS through her volunteer efforts, Sarti stays busy hiking, biking, and kayaking with her three children, ages 5 to 10. “I am happiest when I am active and outdoors with my kids. There is no replacement for fun, outdoor adventures!”

Fredrik Norrsell

summit team profile

The Stevens Family PLANNING FOR THEIR FUTURE AND NOLS’ By Rich Brame, Alumni Relations Director

Give Now, Wait on payments If you still have some time before retirement or don’t need the increased income just yet, you may want to consider a deferred gift annuity. Similar to the charitable gift annuity, a donor can make a contribution to NOLS now and defer payment until a future date, such as when he or she plans to retire or expects to incur college tuition expenses. This option results in higher rate of payment later, as well as a secure, fixed income in retirement. This also enables a donor to enjoy the benefits of a charitable income tax deduction immediately. For more information, give NOLS Development a call at (800) 332-4280 or visit our website,


nthony and Erika Stevens seem like odd ducks on the NOLS Summit Team. Anthony is an active NOLS instructor, they’re busily parenting a toddler, and they’re in their 30-something prime of life. Growing up in rural Wyoming, Anthony developed a strong connection to the mountains, fishing, and horses. In high school, where Erika and Anthony became sweethearts, they shared an interest in outdoor pursuits and adventure. Anthony’s Alaska Wilderness Course proved to be a life-changing experience. “I was not great in the classroom, but my first NOLS expedition fit my learning style, and I really excelled. I’m proud to be a NOLS graduate and that diploma from Alaska is the only one I hang on the wall,” he said. After a two-week course in Wyoming’s Wind Rivers and 10 days on an alumni trip in Italy’s Dolomites,

Erika now understands the school, its potential, and Anthony’s passion for NOLS. “NOLS taught me how to be independent and confident in the wilderness,” Erika recalled. When you look again at the Stevens family, their involvement in NOLS’ Summit Team makes perfect sense. They want to advance the long-term success of the school, connect people to our fragile globe’s peaceful beauty, and help individuals reach their potential. “Having a son reminds us of our tremendous responsibility to him, his future world and the things we believe in,” explained Erika. Anthony agrees. “I want the school to be available for kids, including mine, in the future. I’m proud to match my personal relationship with our personal commitment,” he concluded. The NOLS Summit Team, established in 1999, is a recognition society for donors who include the school in their estate plans or establish some other deferred gift to NOLS. For more information, contact NOLS Development at (800) 332-4280 or FRIENDS 3

Gifts at Work

philanthropic Tidbit

Annual Fund Celebrates Longtime leaders

Tracy Baynes, STEP

By Cindy Carey, Annual Fund Manager

NOLS scholarships allow all students to enjoy the beauty of our wilderness classrooms such as Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

NOLS Scholarship Update

At NOLS, one group of donors truly sets an example for our family of supporters, making the annual fund the vibrant and growing resource it is today. In 2005, NOLS created the Decade Donor recognition as a way to recognize the commitment of graduates, families, and friends who had donated 10 of the previous 11 years. Since its inception, this core group has grown from roughly 106 people to just over 900. Each of these individuals has shown genuine passion for and belief in the NOLS mission. They have enabled students to participate in our programs and helped us to expand our sustainability efforts. In many cases, our Decade Donors have been supporting the school for far more than a decade. Our 143 DoubleDecade Donors are vital to the school’s success now and in the future. We want to thank these individuals for their loyalty to NOLS and for all they’ve helped us accomplish. For more information about how to become a Decade Donor, please contact the NOLS Development office at (800) 332-4280 or online at

By Abinand Devan, Stewardship and Event Coordinator


ith 80 percent of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for youth to have access to outdoor experiences. NOLS scholarships are necessary to help those in need gain the opportunity for experiential leadership and wilderness education. In order to provide a pathway for youth from underserved populations to learn and grow from a wilderness experience, the school has made increasing scholarship support a priority for the past 30 years.

“With NOLS, I was able to learn things that I can never learn in a classroom. There were moments when I was so tired and felt like giving up but when we reached the destination I would say to myself, ‘It was all worth it.’” —Armando Pascual, Scholarship student, Alaska Backpacking and Sea Kayaking, 2011

NOLS’ commitment to growing its scholarship program is apparent: since 2001, the school has seen a 67-percent increase in scholarship support. This growth can largely be attributed to the generous philanthropic support we have received toward the annual fund and the endowment. In fiscal year 2011, donor contributions helped NOLS send 671 students on wilderness courses with full or partial financial aid and increase its scholarship funding from the previous year by 11.9 percent to $1.46 million.

Thanks to the generosity of our endowment donors, the NOLS Endowment Fund has seen another positive year. The fund builds stable philanthropic support for the school through its continued return on permanent investments. The amount generated by the fund is then used to provide scholarships and other programs that are critical to the mission of the school. Last year, NOLS saw an increase to the endowment with an investment gain of nearly 13 percent. The fund released close to $478,000 to programs, with about $200,000 going directly to NOLS scholarships. Since 1996 the endowment has released almost $4 million to programs. With continued growth and positive investment returns, the endowment will enable NOLS to further its mission and better serve students. Another important way NOLS targets student inclusion is through strategic partnerships in the Gateway Partner Program, connecting the school with organizations that work with underserved individuals of high potential. NOLS offers these students fulltuition scholarships and stipends to help cover travel and equipment deposits. In 2011, NOLS awarded $522,766 in scholarships to 157 Gateway Partnership students, representing an 11-percent increase in Gateway Partner scholarships over the previous year and a 96-percent increase since 2008. Increasing scholarship assistance and building a diverse community that welcomes and respects individuals from all backgrounds has been a key strategic goal for NOLS. This growth in funding and scholarship awards demonstrates NOLS’ long-term commitment to making wilderness skills and leadership education more broadly available.

National Outdoor Leadership School | 284 Lincoln Street • Lander, Wyoming 82520 • (800) 332-4280 Larkin Flora, Editor. To subscribe, contact: NOLS Development (307) 335-2276 • Friends is printed on 100% recycled, 60%-PCW FSC-certified paper.



Insider News

wmi campus demonstrates responsible building By Melissa Hemken, Foundation Relations Officer

The Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus will be the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of NOLS’ new campus for remote medicine training. Slated for completion this fall, construction has progressed throughout the winter in Red Canyon 13 miles outside of Lander, Wyo. This remote campus location poses some interesting challenges for adequate wireless cellular and data services. In an effort to improve a weak signal, we mounted antennae upon our recently installed modular tower. Workers recycled the solar energy components from NOLS’ well-traveled marketing bus to provide temporary power for office trailer outlets, the amplifier for the cell repeater, and lighting. The Wyss campus is being constructed to meet U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements. To earn the highest level of certification, we have made responsible procurement of materials top priority for NOLS and are searching for quality steel produced domestically with the best environmental practices and regulations and least embodied energy. As construction work continues around snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures, the WMI program staff continues to support students at its leased facility in Lander and around the world. Once the Wyss Campus is completed, NOLS expects to serve over 800 students yearly at the residential facility. For continued updates on the progress of the Wyss Campus, visit the NOLS Blog at

CAMPAIGN NOLS Endowing Our Core Values

Our Place on The Map:

Craig Muderlak
























Part of planning our route for the future is reaching such exciting high points as answering challenges to receive additional, essential gifts. We have some ground to cover before receiving our next pledge—the final $2 million in the $20-million Campaign. The dark red section in the graph above illustrates the additional $2 million NOLS earned by reaching our mid-campagin challenge.

What’s Next for Campaign NOLS By Larkin Flora, Communications Coordinator


his past winter, NOLS alumni, family, and friends stepped up to help us meet the $10 million challenge with an overwhelming surge of gifts. Including the $2 million combined gift we received for reaching $10 million before Dec. 31, 2011, Campaign NOLS is now at over $14 million! Although we are well on our way to the $20 million campaign goal, we still have a lot of work to do in the final two years of Campaign NOLS. Traditionally, we solicit NOLS leadership at the beginning of campaigns, so as we move forward, we will be broadening our constituent base. That means that between now and Dec. 31, 2013, NOLS Development will be reaching out to the greater community for support. There are many ways to give to Campaign NOLS, including gifts to the endowment, the NOLS Annual Fund, and—for the first time in the history of capital campaigns at NOLS—irrevocable planned gifts. Once we reach $18 million, the same three donors who posed the

mid-campaign challenge will provide a capstone contribution of $2 million. NOLS has always been a nimble organization with a creative, dynamic staff. But when we look at where NOLS needs to go—if we are to remain the leader in the industry, if we are to stay at the cutting edge of leadership and wilderness education—it becomes clear that we will have to rely on more than flexibility and quick thinking for our school’s security. NOLS is maturing as an organization, and to ensure our continued success into the future we need to shore up our financial foundations now. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Campaign NOLS, helping us reach our milestones thus far. We look forward to the successful completion of this campaign, which will allow NOLS to financially prepare for a strong future. Contact NOLS Development at (800) 332-4280 or with any questions about the campaign or for more information.

CONTACT US: Phone: (800) 332-4280 • web: • Email:

The past two years of Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values have been filled with exceptional support and strong leadership from our donors, alumni, and friends, as well as solid backing from inside the school. I am thrilled with the success of Campaign NOLS thus far. As we begin the next phase of the campaign, we will be reaching out to an even broader audience in order to support the NOLS mission and achieve our end of campaign challenge. — Pip Coe, Alumni and Development Director




A Look Behind the Kinship Family Scholarship By Liz Hall, Development Officer


he Kinship Family Scholarship is funded by a family of NOLS graduates who have been moved by NOLS’ mission and together have built a scholarship to share and help provide that experience to others. Brothers Heath and Paul Thomson and their cousin Ethan Meers shared with Development Officer Liz Hall about why they give to NOLS. Ethan first came to NOLS for a Rocky Mountain Adventure course, has since become a NOLS instructor, and currently sits on the NOLS Advisory Council and Campaign NOLS Steering Committee. Heath completed a course in Alaska and a Semester in Patagonia. Paul graduated from a Semester in Alaska. oF all the WorK Nols does, What do You FiNd the Most ValuaBle? ethaN: I believe that the real-world leadership experiences, which are fundamental to every NOLS course, are universally valuable to young adults. Whether it’s the self-leadership required to get through the day-to-day challenges of a course or the group skills developed while leading peers, NOLS provides the education and context for students to grow and excel throughout their lives. paul: NOLS provides real, useable leadership skills that can be applied in countless situations—whether it’s in your job or personal life.

do You BelieVe You utiliZe sKills that Were learNed at Nols iN Your liFe? iF so, hoW? ethaN: I utilize the skills I developed as a NOLS student, and later as an instructor, every day. From applying fundamental communication skills in a business context to practicing good Expedition Behavior [EB] around the house to reminding myself about my tolerance for adversity and uncertainty during particularly challenging times, I rely on my NOLS skills in almost every aspect of my life. aNY surprises at Nols?

Whether it’s the self-leadership required to get through the day-to-day challenges of a course or the group skills developed while leading peers, NOLS provides the education and context for students to grow and excel throughout their lives. — Ethan Thomson

paul: How something as seemingly simple as EB is

heath: I’ve spent about 110 days in the field with

a critical component of wilderness living and group work and that hot potato pearls (instant mashed potatoes) can really turn your day around.

NOLS. That is just a fraction of the number of days I have spent in school classrooms. Yet, the skills I have learned from NOLS are practiced in my daily life far more than many skills learned in school.

WhY haVe You choseN to MaKe Nols a philaNthropic prioritY? What iNspired You to taKe part iN caMpaiGN Nols? ethaN: I would like to see a day where NOLS has the capacity to allow any interested and qualified student to benefit from a NOLS experience regardless of their financial background.

Thank you to Heath, Ethan, Paul, and the rest of their family for their generous support of Campaign NOLS. They, along with the larger NOLS family, bolster the school—helping to ensure that we provide backcountry and leadership skills for generations to come.

David Anderson

What Was oNe hiGhliGht, aNd oNe MaJor challeNGe, oF Your Nols course? heath: During a river trip floating the Snake River in June, it snowed eight inches on us overnight. We were not fully equipped to handle this weather. We had to band together, solve some problems, and figure out how to stay warm. It turned out to be a really fun day sitting around the fire and maintaining camp.

Generosity and NOLS, alike, run in the family. These three cousins are all graduates and strong supporters of the school.

A NOLS education teaches students how to excel in the wilderness and beyond. The Kinship Family Scholarship demonstrates how much can be achieved with a family behind your efforts.

CONTACT US: Phone: (800) 332-4280 • web: • Email: