11 Charity/Nonprofit Organizations For Surfers

Sep 13, 17 • Newsletter

As a surf instructor at CHICABRAVA (and being a part of a surfing community in my hometown and abroad), I’ve felt the connectivity to the ocean and those in the lineup that are genuinely appreciating the feelings that come with surfing. We can all agree that the ocean/surfing can seriously heal your soul, empty or sort out your mind, and leave your body feeling worked and healthy. This is such a personal experience that we have to ourselves in the lineup. But what if it was more than that? What if these feelings, these movements, these ideals, this passion, knowledge could be THE GAME CHANGER for someone or somewhere else?

Maybe you are one of us that truly feel like the ocean or surfing saved our LIFE somewhere along the way. Let’s investigate some cool organizations that can allow you to commit a little or a whole lot, buy your friend a gift that gives, listen to a playlist that makes the ocean some moolah, or rep some swag that keeps plastic out of fish bellies. Send a donation to one of our local community service programs here in San Juan Del Sur, or bring an extra dictionary, volleyball, or even surf accessories with you!

Surfrider Foundation


Mission: The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.

Since ‘84, Surfrider has been setting up a network of chapters locally, making conservation and participation accessible as close as your homebreak or as far as you can travel across the globe. Their directed programs ensure beaches are accessible, keep our water clean, protect our ocean, preserve our coasts and keep plastic from polluting our waterways.

Involvement: http://www.surfrider.org/volunteer Sign up to connect to your local chapter and find out about the upcoming events. Pack the car, invite the surf family, load the boards, and hit the road on your coast to get your hands in there! The webpages have some links to contact your elected officials about current environmental issues. MARK that calendar: International Surf Day is in June of every year, a day to share the stoke and love on our mama ocean.

Save The Waves Coalition


Mission: To protect and preserve the coastal environment with a focus on the surf zone.

This one is similar to Surfrider in it’s mission. Save The Waves partners with locals to preserve their coastal resources and in turn strengthen their communities. The Coalition was founded in 2001 and operates out of the beautiful San Clemente, California. According to their website, this nonprofit works by partnering with communities, determining the value of the surfing environment in that specific area, and instilling campaigns while educating the public. Their World Surfing Reserves program protects amazing surf spots and coastlines, by working on long-term conservation through outreach, planning and community capacity building. Through Surfonomics they determine the economic value of a wave and surfing to local communities to help decision makers make choices to protect the value of their coast and waves. When an epic wave or coastline is under threat from poorly planned development or pollution, they mount campaigns to educate the public and take direct action through their Endangered Waves and Branded Campaigns.

Involvement: https://www.savethewaves.org/  Become a member, donate some time or money, or shop for christmas presents here! You can control where your sources and support come and go, so what better place? “Waves for Miles” is a program where you can donate unused or extra airline miles, email them for info. You can email them here to get into their workplace giving program where you volunteer and have your time given….matched!


Mission: To improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected to us through surfing. https://youtu.be/Mb4kxtYWi0A

According to their history, SurfAid began in 2000 when a group of surfers whose hearts were broken by the needless suffering and preventable death in the Mentawai Islands. THey pulled together their resources, got with the Indonesian government, connected with leaders of those local communities to help the islands battle malaria, water contamination, sanitation, natural disasters, malnutrition, and mother and child health issues. With their “hand up” not “hand out” philosophy, the foundation aims to teach rather than tell in order to instill self-reliance and respect the cultures and customs of the communities.

Involvement: http://www.surfaid.org/getinvolved Be ambitious, start a fundraiser with your girl pack! Give a gift, have people donate to the cause for your birthday, or shop on their website (their tee shirts are RAD)! A Spotify playlist, called “Surfify” which automatically raises money every time a song is played. You can play it on your surf commute, while you catch your zzz’s, or listen once and pass it along!

Maui Ola Foundation


Mission: Provide hope and confidence to individuals living with genetic diseases. Harnessing the healing powers of the ocean, to introduce surfing as a natural therapy.

Started in 2007, the Maui Ola Foundation shares the positivity and love of surfing with kids that are living with diseases, to give them a new medium to learn in, enjoy, work through their feelings and issues, and to feel like part of a family, connected. Volunteers even visit kids in hospitals that can’t make it to the ocean. In 2010, Maui Ola was awarded The Agent of Change Award by Surfer Magazine in recognition of their success and achievements in the surf industry.

Involvement: Buy this beautiful hat for your best galpal, fundraise by building and rallying up for community, volunteer at a surf experience day event (the next one is coming up this October 28th in Malibu, CA), or make a donation out of the blue or for an occasion!


Waves for Water

Mission: Get clean water to everyone who needs it.

“Do what you love and help along the way.” They keep it simple…they provide clean water solutions through their ongoing W4W programs and DIY courier program. In addition to their focus on clean water, they campaign, organize, coordinate, and RESPOND to almost every natural disaster, global disaster, earthquakes ,tsunamis, hurricanes, you name it! They’ve been in Nepal, Bosnia, Philippines, Indonesia, Haiti, Japan, and Chile; in Pakistan, India and Mexico; and the northeastern coast of US with Superstorm Sandy.


Involvement: http://www.wavesforwater.org/ Same things here! Fundraising! Donate! Buy one of these filters! They are directly used by the communities and homes that do not have access to clean potable water for cooking, drinking, and living.

Surfers For Autism

Mission: The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. Our focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism.

Behold the best beach days of your life! Surfers For Autism hold events on beaches all around the USA for children with special needs. These events have two to four highly skilled surf instructors for each kid to help them into waves and navigate surfing. There’s paddleboarding, kayaking, beach cookouts, live music, games, and community tents. Lunch is given free. These kids get a chance to work in a different medium, a different world than they experience on land, which may make the WORLD of a difference for them (and YOU)!


Surfers Against Sewage

Mission: Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.

Surfers Against Sewage campaigns for cleaning up the beaches from sewage and this remains the backbone of their charity, but now they are working on marine plastic pollution as well. There’s campaigns working for other issues like climate change affects, water quality, and coastal development using education, volunteering, beach cleans, campaigns, parliamentary events and advocacy.

Involvement: https://www.sas.org.uk/ You can donate, fundraise locally, learn how to reduce your plastic waste at a manageable pace for your lifestyle, join a beach sweep (tidy up your homebreak!), shop their online store, and download their app that allows you to keep up with ocean pollution and any warnings or alerts that may be in the lineup out in the ocean.



Mission: WILDCOAST is an international group that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife.


Their current projects are: sea turtles, gray whales, Californian condors and sharks, climate change affecting sea level rise, plus conservation efforts on the U.S.-Mexico border, Todos Santos, islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve, Valle de Los Cirios Pacific Coast, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, Oaxaca, the South San Diego Bay and the Otay River.

Involvement: www.wildcoast.net  Donate! Volunteer for a beach sweep, intern for leadership opportunities, fundraise, or sign a petition for different programs and ongoing projects.

Sustainable Surf


Mission: Sustainable Surf want to be the catalyst that transforms surf culture into a powerful force for protecting the ocean playground. They do this by engaging both individuals and businesses together in partnership to solve the most pressing environmental issues facing our oceans.

According to their website, they specifically focus on environmental impacts: climate change (ocean acidification, sea level rise and coastal erosion), marine plastic pollution, and water quality issues that threaten our shared “surfing habitat.”
“Their programs aim for….

  1. developing the rise and availability of dramatically more sustainable surfboards
  2. operating a unique recycling program that helps turn waste styrofoam packaging into new recycled-content surfboard cores
  3. turning professional surfing contests into a living showcase of engaging sustainable lifestyle choices
  4. Inspiring individuals to adopt an ocean-friendly lifestyle as their own.”

Involvement: www.sustainablesurf.org They are reaching out to help you help yourself and the ocean while making positive and healthy moves more accessible. Check out this program: DeepBlueLife Endorsed project. It will help you identify what brands to buy/repp/support that are in favor of making ocean-minded product. Another program: Waste To Waves (drop off and recycle your extra clean, white, #6, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam from shaping surfboards or encourage your local shapers to look into it!) Read more on their website about other little mini life hacks you can do to make the world smile and the ocean stay alive!

Surfers Healing

Mission: To enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing.


Parents Israel and Danielle Paskowitz found surfing had a profound impact on their son Isaiah, who lives with autism. In 1992, they created Surfers Healing to expand the impact of surfing, with the weightlessness and rhythms of the ocean offering a therapeutic experience for those living with autism. They hold beautiful camps in the US on east and west coasts, but also Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Involvement: www.surfershealing.org Volunteer for a surf camp event, sponsor a child/a family that needs it, or donations that will allow for supplies!


Operation Amped

Mission: 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.


Their goals are to provide single day and multi-day clinics, instructional practices, volunteer trainings, outreach, advocacy, fundraising, and have a strong community presence. They are  spreading the love of surfing to the brave souls who give us the freedom to continue doing what we love.

Involvement: www.operationamped.com Check out these surf events, you can volunteer or donate to help these successfully continue.

CHICABRAVA Community Work

Check out our website to see what we have going on over here at CHICABRAVA to help the local community here in SJDS, Nicaragua: http://www.chicabrava.com/about-us/community-service-volunteer-work/

CHICABRAVA Camp Bella: Each year, we host a charitable surf camp empowerment program for underprivileged young women in Nicaragua.  Click here for more info or write to us at info@chicabrava.com to find out how you can get involved.

CHICABRAVA Bi-Monthly Beach Cleanup: Occurring on the first Sunday of every other month, CHICABRAVA invites all schools and friends in the local area to join the beach cleanup sponsored by CHICABRAVA. Anyone who attends the beach cleanup will receive a CHICABRAVA ‘beach cleanup’ tank top and all supplies needed to participate in the beach cleanup such as rubber gloves, trash bags and F-U-N! This is a way to not only cleanup our local San Juan del Sur Bay, but it is a new initiative to bring our entire community, expat or local, together as one for the same common purpose. Click here for more info or let us know if you’re interested!

Chicas Adelante: A community outreach program for young women in the community formed as a collaboration between CHICABRAVA and Escuela Adelante. The respective teams from Escuela Adelante and CHICABRAVA convene for monthly meetings with a select group of young women who have shown hard work and dedication, and a true desire to succeed given their circumstances. Click here for more info!

Escuela Adelante: The name ‘Adelante’ suggests forward moving momentum, and that’s exactly what this program is all about. Based at the Biblioteca Movil, Escuela Adelante is an 40 student bilingual after school English Prep program, that prepares students for a higher level of education and schooling. The pedagogy is based on language support and exchange between the foreign and local culture, uniting the two and creating a positive learning environment for all. Click here for more information or write to us at info@chicabrava.com to find out how you can volunteer at the school.

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca – The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca is a free public library started in 2001 that has over 12,500 books in Spanish and English. The Biblioteca offers two different programs that help the children and community of San Juan del Sur which you can participate in while here. The Children’s Program is a free afternoon class for children that includes theater, story hour, science projects, crafts, study area and English classes. The Biblioteca Movíl is a mobile library project which goes three days a week into the rural areas to schools to deliver books, read stories to the children, assist in arts and crafts, play games and help with the process of lending out library books. This is a great experience to see the rural part of Nicaragua and bring exciting new activities to children. For additional information, please visit their website at www.sjdsbiblioteca.org. If you would like to participate in either of these initiatives while here let us know and we will set it up!

Donations are always welcome in Nicaragua. You might find yourself short on “free-from-surfing-time” while here, so another great way to help out is by bringing down any of the following items: Clothing, Shoes, Books, School supplies, Art supplies, Bilingual dictionaries, Baby formula, Adult diapers, Soccer equipment, Basketball equipment, Volleyball equipment, Baseball equipment, Softball equipment

Thanks for reaching into the ocean-y nonprofit depths of the interweb with me.
Allie Hayser
Surf Sista Friend/Instructor
September 2017

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