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Basic Membership Contribution Sees First Increase Since 1998

Basic Membership Contribution Sees First Increase Since 1998
Friends' photography hike at Rowena Plateau. (photographer: Michael Drewry)
By Sophia Aepfelbacher
Membership Coordinator
February 21, 2020

As a member-driven organization, we depend on thousands of Gorge enthusiasts (people like you!) to fund and guide our work each year. Membership contributions provide more than half of the financial resources needed to carry out the daily efforts that enable us to focus on preserving and protecting the Columbia Gorge.

This year, for the first time since 1998, Friends will be raising the suggested contribution for an annual basic membership from $35 to $50. While our fiscal health remains strong, this increase is necessary to ensure that the critical Gorge protection work continues well into the future.
Though we may be the engine for much of this work, the ownership is all yours. The annual support provided by members funds advocacy, education, stewardship, and all of our other work to protect the Gorge. No single person or conservation effort can guarantee the safety of the Gorge forever, but together, through collective action we have the power.

What if I can’t afford to increase my annual contribution?

The important thing to note is that we are raising the suggested annual membership contribution. Friends has always offered an alternative option for folks who are unable to donate the suggested amount. Many of our members are retirees or have children and other responsibilities, so they contribute what they can.

Regardless of how much you are able to contribute, your membership with Friends makes an impact on the future of this great American landscape. It’s a little like voting – you may not feel like you’re making an impact as an individual, but collectively we do have a lot of power.

How are my membership contributions used?

Every year financial support provided by members funds our advocacy, land management, stewardship, community outreach, and all other work to protect the Gorge.

We do receive additional funds from grants, corporate gifts, and endowment distribution but we are a member-driven organization by design. Members like you ensure that we aren’t beholden to one funder, one issue, or one tactic to achieve our goals.

My membership with Friends is important to me and I plan to renew but it would help if I could make payments. Can I pay in installments or do I have to make one contribution for the year?

Absolutely! We love and appreciate our monthly donors, or Best Friends, tremendously because they ensure that we’re always ready to take action to defend the Gorge, when and where it’s needed most. You can join this community with a commitment of just $8 a month. We’ll even send you hike recommendations for each month of the year as a small token of our appreciation.

If you would like to donate directly through your checking account, you’ll never have to worry about updating your credit card number or expiration date and you’ll save Friends’ the processing and administrative costs. Simply mail a voided check with a note about the monthly giving amount to: PO Box 40820, Portland, OR 97240 OR give me a call at 971-634-0323!

How do Friends' membership fees compare with similar organizations?

Many similar organizations in Portland begin membership at a suggested $50 annual donation, including the Freshwater Trust, Washington Trails Association, Ecotrust, Columbia Riverkeeper, and Willamette Riverkeeper.

What would happen if Friends didn’t increase its suggested membership contribution?

Keeping the basic membership at $35 annually instead of raising it to $50 would reduce revenue by nearly $500,000 over the next decade. That would mean we would likely need to cut back on both programs and staff. We may not be able to purchase land for permanent protection when it becomes available, instead losing it forever to development.

We’ve also got to keep up with inflation and make sure we’re not reducing our real revenue every year. The last time we increased our suggested basic membership amount was in 1998. $35 back then would be worth about $60 today!

One thing that hasn't changed is our appreciation of the support provided by YOU to protect the Columbia Gorge! Thank you for all that you do.

If you have additional questions about your membership, or Friends' work, please reach out to me directly at or 971-634-0323.