The surfing subculture has spawned a number of reputable and worthy non-profit and charitable organisations. Their purposes range from environmental protection through to helping provide clean water to those in remote and poverty-stricken regions of the world. Whether it is about cleaner beaches or helping those in need, we have rounded up a list of organisations who do great work and need your help.
Choose a cause that is close to your heart and support the efforts of those who devote themselves to a greater vision.
Started by a group of concerned surfers in 2000 who were struck by the needless suffering and preventable death in the Mentawai Islands. Today we are proud that more than 95 per cent of our program staff are Indonesian nationals who work hand-in-hand with the communities of Western Sumatra, Sumbawa and Sumba, to bring about positive, sustainable health change while respecting the unique culture and customs of these islands communities.
We work with, and in support of, the community – from the idea for a program to the implementation of the program. We support bringing positive change to remote communities.
The Surfrider Foundation is a community of everyday people who passionately protect our playground – the ocean, waves, and beaches -that provide us so much enjoyment. Surfriders focus is 100% on protecting and preserving our ocean, beaches & waves.
Our model is to engage environmental experts to create solutions, unite local and national resources to protect the coast, and leverage our local chapter network’s knowledge with a national perspective.
Pure (World Surf League)
There’s no shortage of serious ocean issues to confront. But there are tons of people ready to help. There’s you, us, and the ocean advocacy organizations on the front lines creating real impact.
By raising our voices together, we can turn the tide.
We’ll start by shining a light on the people making a difference. PURE. Protecting, Understanding, and Respecting the Environment.
Waves for Water
The Waves For Water objective is to identify the problem and quickly connect an existing user-friendly solution. The long-term goal for Waves For Water is to be proactive, rather than reactive. There is no reason anyone should die from lack of clean water, people have already done the hard work and have developed technology solutions that help eliminate senseless deaths. It is our job to make sure that technological solutions and quality education are in the hands of those who need them. In addition, individuals who are traveling to areas in need can easily eliminate the distribution challenges most bureaucracies face in philanthropic aid programs.
One in six people still do not have access to clean water and that is ridiculous, we strongly believe that as a group, as a movement, we can solve this problem in our lifetime.
The mission is simple: get clean water to every person who needs it. Access to clean water improves personal and civic well-being, increases overall health, reduces poverty and increases opportunities for education and employment, contributing to the overall advancement of individuals and their communities. We work on the front lines to provide access to clean water through the distribution of portable water filters, the digging and renovating of wells, and the construction of rainwater harvesting and storing systems in places where groundwater is not accessible.
Surfers Against Sewage
Surfers Against Sewage is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading marine conservation charities. Surfers Against Sewage today deals with a wide spectrum of marine conservation issues from marine litter to climate change. Not just surfers – not just sewage.
Surfers Against Sewage was set up by people just like us; people who were sick of seeing sewage in our seas and on our beaches in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Worse still, they were fed up of getting ill when doing the sports they loved – surfing, sea swimming, windsurfing and anything else that involved being in the sea.
So, in May 1990 they decided enough was enough and set up Surfers Against Sewage. It was their direct contact with the ocean and sadly the chronic sewage pollution of the time that was the visceral driving force behind the emerging organisation, something that remains strong to this day.
We’re a community dedicated to the protection of oceans, waves, beaches and wildlife. We fight long and hard to protect what we love and we won’t stop until it’s completely clean, safe and protected for everyone, forever.
The Wave Project
The Wave Project started in 2010 as a voluntary group funded by the National Health Service in Cornwall. The initial aim was to use volunteers to provide one-to-one surfing lessons for young people with mental health issues as a way of getting them outside, doing physical exercise and feeling more confident about themselves.The first project achieved outstanding results.
The results of the pilot showed that going surfing once a week helped clients feel more confident, improved their outlook and gave them a sense of fun. The participants were young people who other services had been unable to reach. The evaluation showed that the surfing course had led them to feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives. Encouraged by the results, The Wave Project was established as a not-for-profit company. Further funding was obtained, initially from BBC Children In Need and later from the Big Lottery Fund and other funders, and the project began to grow.
The Wave Project is an evidence-based intervention. This means all our projects are independently evaluated and assessed to ensure they have a positive impact on clients. Our evaluation measures:
- Changes to client wellbeing over time
- Impact on behaviour post course
- Client’s sense of safety during sessions
- Impact on clients’ families where applicable
- Impact on education where applicable
At the Wave Project, we help young people to reduce anxiety and improve confidence through surfing! Our award winning surf courses are proven to help clients feel calmer, more motivated and better about their future.
Waves of Wellness
We are the Waves of Wellness Foundation (WOW), a mental health surf therapy charity, committed to changing lives by delivering for-purpose innovative programs for people experiencing mental health challenges.
We believe dealing with mental health is not just about dealing with crisis, but that it’s also about finding healthy outlets for people who are struggling, recovering and doing fine. By facilitation conversations and connection and by increasing awareness, we want to change the way mental health is viewed and treated.
Our vision? To make this world of ours one where mental health issues are treated like any other physical injury. Just like a cough or a cold, there’s no social stigma. And, more importantly, those struggling with mental health issues don’t have to go it alone.
Surfers Healing is the original surf camp for children with autism since 1996.
We take kids with autism surfing. We paddle out together on tandem boards to catch the waves that come our way. That’s what we do; that’s what we love.
On the surface, our contribution seems simple: each year, our volunteer-staffed camps give over 4,500 children with autism and their families a fun, engaging day at the beach.
But go deeper, and you’ll see that a quiet revolution is taking place. Through the simple act of riding waves together, we’re defying the status quo.
When we help kids get up on a board, we’re challenging preconceived notions of capability. When we encourage participants to dive in, we’re empowering them to engage with the world. And when we ride the waves together, we’re affirming that every person is a gift.
Plastic Oceans Foundation is a global charitable organisation that aims to change the worlds’ attitude to plastic in a single generation. The organisation aims to limit the demand for non-essential plastic, using the Ocean as a litmus test to monitor the impact of this man-made pollution crisis on human health.
Plastic Oceans Foundation engages people of all ages, in all social situations, to understand the danger of continuing to perceive plastic to be disposable. Once they become aware of the ultimate threat to human health, it will become a personal choice to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment.
We want to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation.
Waves for Change
W4C was founded by Ashoka Fellow Tim Conibear, who spent time in South Africa after graduating from university in the UK. An avid surfer, Tim spent every free moment he had surfing. In 2009 he started a small surfing club in Masiphumelele Township. The club centred around voluntary weekend surfing sessions, which soon grew when local community members – Apish Tshetsha and Bongani Ndlovu – volunteered to lead and expand the club.
Apish and Bongani recognised that surfing was a great way to engage young people, who soon started sharing their stories and challenges. In an effort to provide more social support, the trio reached out to local social services only to realise that local services were heavily under-resourced. A gap was identified.
Daily exposure to violence and stress means many South Africans suffer from acute emotional and psychological stress. In the absence of emotional support, the stress often manifests in anti-social and high-risk behaviour, placing many young South Africans at-risk. Early surfing sessions showed that participants noted improved feelings of belonging, strength, trust and confidence – key pillars of wellbeing. This was reflected in their behaviour as noted by teachers and parents.
The trio crew, teamed up with mental health professionals and development experts to develop, what today is, an award winning Surf Therapy programme. W4C operates in some of the most at-risk communities in South Africa and Africa.
W4C works in communities affected by violence, poverty and conflict, where mental health services are often stigmatized and under-resourced.
Working in partnership with local community members, we identify, train and resource mentors, who we work with to open programmes that service the youth of their own home communities.
- Lavender Hill
- Port Elizabeth
- East London
- Harper, Liberia
IndoJax is a family-owned and operated surf school and charity outreach program located in the Wilmington, NC area since 2006.
IndoJax Surf Charities is committed to empowering disadvantaged, medically fragile, and special-needs children by exposing them to the ocean environment and teaching them to surf.
We believe that the ocean and learning to surf has profound healing properties and can build self-esteem. We provide these surf camps at no charge to the participants. Children who take part in our surf camps inevitably move from a feeling of skepticism and reluctance around the ocean to empowerment and confidence, giving them the sense that “If I can surf, I can do anything!”
Surfing Medicine International
Surfing Medicine International was founded as non-profit, volunteer-based organisation in order to “Keep the Surfer Healthy and Safe” by connecting health professionals, lifeguards and water patrol, sport and environmental scientists, surf coaches and atlethes.
We envision that every surfer is an ambassador for global health and the ocean environment. We believe in connecting great people. As we are at the core of medical scientific communities, we share our knowledge and educate coastal communities in preventing injuries, saving others and living healthy.
Kind Surf is a spanish non-profit organization founded in 2012, dedicated to children with fiscal, mental and poverty issues.
We strongly believe in the positive impact and great benefits “Surf Therapy” has on these kids lives.
We are a Team of: Surf Therapy instructors, coordinators, photographers, videographers, professional surfers and by 2017 we’ve got a network of over 1100 volunteers in Spain.
Waves for Development
The idea for WAVES originated on the beaches of northern Peru in late 2004, when a group of educated local and international surfers shared a desire to help local youth with little resources enjoy surfing. Each one had stories to tell of the stoke, culture, and richness that they had observed during the course of their travels in Peru. They dreamed of building consciousness into the surf travel experience, and empowering local surf communities.
Over the course of the next 3 years, WAVES formed a network of individuals, organizations, and institutions. In 2007, thanks to Global Surf Industries, and signed partnerships with the Peruvian Sports Institute and the Peruvian Surfing Federation, a shipping container of surfboards arrived in Peru. After a two-week pilot program in February of 2008, WAVES launched ongoing Surf Voluntourism and Educational Surf Programs in Lobitos, Peru that November. Since transferring management to locals in Northern Peru in 2014, opportunities for expansion have presented themselves to WAVES International.
WAVES now helps connect the dots between travelers, surf related grassroots initiatives and community members in Peru, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Others partnerships are on the way; Stay tuned!
Waves for Development believes that surf travel should benefit the people and the communities where it happens. We connect the dots between volunteering, traveling to surf, community-based tourism and grassroots initiatives. Our mission is to inspire world travel and cultural exchange through surf experiences.
WAVES for Development believes that surf travel should benefit the people and the communities where it happens. We connect the dots between volunteering, traveling to surf, community-based tourism and grassroots initiatives. Our mission is to inspire world travel and cultural exchange through surf experiences.
Surfing the Nations
The concept of integrating surfing and humanitarian work began way back in the early surf era with founder Tom Bauer. As a young boy who loved surfing, he found himself caught in the characterization of the surf culture as one marked by drugs, partying and self-centeredness. After fully grasping the concept that surfing and giving back can actually go hand-in-hand, Tom committed his life to mobilizing surfers to serve and to be leaders of positive change in communities both locally and internationally. Surfing The Nations was born!
In 1997, the organization was at a grassroots level in Kalihi Valley, Honolulu. Many of the programs and outreaches which are today impacting hundreds began with just the faithful few. STN grew and expanded and by 2008 desperately needed permanent headquarters. At this time there were no prospects of housing in the Honolulu area but against all odds the search continued, and a property in Wahiawa, with an old neighborhood bar and a 15-unit apartment building, finally opened up. Thus began the acquisition of the Wahiawa property, the new headquarters of Surfing The Nations and a new chapter in its history. STN staff and interns moved into the apartments and the “Bar” has now become the Surfers Coffee Bar. Subsequently through a series of unforeseen events, STN has acquired three additional properties that include an ex-porn shop, an old convenience and liquor store, and a former exotic dancers’ strip club!
Surfing The Nations is committed to making a difference in Wahiawa and is excited to work with the youth and families of the neighborhood. Many said we were crazy to move to Ohai Street (the address of the apartment building) as the area is known for drug abuse, alcohol, violence and the sex industry; but to bring about change you must be willing to live where change is needed. As STN rewrites the history of “lower” Wahiawa by bringing transformation to buildings and reputations, the goal is to see the lives of those within STN and those in our neighborhood propelled into a destiny free from the traps of alcohol and drug abuse, free from addiction and darkness, ready to engage the world and be someone who lives to “give back”.
We believe surfers have a unique call on their lives: to GO! To get out of their comfort zones and use their thirst for adventure to bring them to the places of the world that are in need. We aim to transform surfing from a self-seeking sport to a common ground on which friendships all over the world can be built.
The Surf Project
The Surf Project helps people to learn more about God in a relaxed, fun and creative environment. We aim to break down barriers and pre-conceptions that people may have towards God and the Church.
We run different events throughout Ireland and abroad, catering for all types of groups regardless of their background or ethnic diversity. The Surf Project is supported by the Methodist Church in Ireland and works in partnership with various organizations and denominations.
Whilst The Surf Project is fully accredited and approved by the ISA (Irish Surfing Association), we don’t offer exclusive lessons to the public. Surfing is central to our activities but is always part of a wider programme. Whenever we are asked about lessons or board rental, we always direct people to local surf schools.
Through creative and interactive workshops, we explore relevant issues such as identity, trust, fear and self-esteem, looking specifically to the Bible and how Jesus can help us in our daily lives.
Surf not Streets
Surfers Not Street Children was started by long-time street children campaigner, Tom Hewitt MBE, who is also the founder of a street children organisation in Durban called Umthombo Street Children. Tom was well known for having fused surfing and other activities with psychosocial care in order to empower street children to be able to leave street life. His surfing program for street children was the first of its kind in the world. Tom realised that the youngsters that were coming through Umthombo at the time had not only made huge strides in their own lives but were becoming great role models. He initially started Surfers Not Street Children with three ex street children who had come through Umthombo in order to empower youngsters approaching adulthood towards their own independence, to inspire other kids still on the streets through the surfing and life stories of these role models and to engage in advocacy on behalf of street children. Surfers Not Street Children quickly made a mark for itself as a voice around the phenomenon of street children and today is a larger team of ex street children who continue their journey of transformation but also committed to the lives of others.
THE SURFHOUSE IN DURBAN IS THE TEAM HOUSE. THEY LIVE THERE AND IT IS THE HUB OF ALL THE ACTIVITIES. THE SURFHOUSE WAS OPENED IN 2013.
In 2013 the team made their first visit to another city in Africa to inspire local street children. They visited Cape Town where they worked alongside local surf development projects (Waves for Change) and also local street children agencies. Also in 2013 the team visited the UK on a speaking and surfing visit to raise awareness around the phenomenon of street children. In 2014, Sihle Mbutho, one of the team members visited Australia to shoot a surf video about his life story with surfing company O’Neill and surfer Jordy Smith. During 2014 the team made numerous TV appearances to share their life stories and to speak about the subject of street children, they made a number of high profile web clips about their work, appeared in a number of newspaper articles, spoke at various events in Durban and further afield and hosted many people at the Surfhouse for introductions to the phenomenon of street children.
At the end of 2014, Surfers Not Street Children was nominated for “Recreational Body of the Year” by the South African Government’s National Department of Sports and Recreation at the South African Sports Awards. Ntando Msibi, one of the youngsters in the team had also represented South Africa that year at the ISA World Surfing Games in Ecuador and won the Supersport TV “Lets Play” Junior Sportsperson of the Year. Ntando has been selected to surf for the national South Africa junior team again this year and will be traveling with them to California.
Surfers Not Street Children is a project that empowers ex street children as they move towards adulthood. The team of former street children, who are now top surfers, are not only committed to their own continued transformation and journey towards independence but are ambassadors and role models for other kids still on the streets as well as an advocacy voice on the phenomenon of street children.
A Walk on Water
A Walk on Water provides Surf Therapy to individuals with special needs.
We do this by hosting Surf Therapy events that celebrate and honor courageous kids, adults and their families. For one beautiful day at the beach, there are no labels. Everyone is an athlete.
The goal of Surf Therapy is for the athletes to feel the thrill and confidence that only “A Walk On Water” can provide. Their families are fully supported and cared for as they share a much deserved day of fun, relaxation and respite.
Over 200 special needs children and families experience the thrill of surfing and its therapeutic qualities each year through A Walk On Water.
Surf Therapy healing us all!
Surfers Against Suicide
The primary objective of SAS is to galvanize the international surfing community to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention and promote better mental health and resilience.
The primary objective of SAS is to galvanize the international surfing
community to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention
and promote better mental health and resilience
The objectives of SAS are as follows:
- To engage the international surfing community in suicide prevention and physical and mental health promotion.
- To raise awareness of the value of mentoring in suicide prevention.
- To raise awareness of the prevalence, individual cost and social cost of suicide in the community.
- To promote a healthy lifestyle amongst young people, particularly through surfing.
- To provide young people with access to the strategies and information required to prevent suicide.
- To increase the availability of services for those suffering from anxiety, depression or considering suicide.
- To increase help seeking behaviour amongst people in need of support. In particular thru on-line counselling.
- To assist other suicide prevention organisations with similar goals.
One Percent for the Planet
1% for the Planet is a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions through annual membership and everyday actions.
1% for the Planet was started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Craig Mathews (founder of Blue Ribbon Flies). Both successful entrepreneurs, they recognized the power of collective action to protect the environment. Today, businesses and individuals continue to make the 1% for the Planet commitment, creating greater impact every year.
We focus on six primary areas: climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife. We chose these focus areas strategically, as we see them as encompassing the most critical areas of environmental impact.
Founded in 1996, the Reef Check Foundation exists to help preserve the oceans and reefs which are critical to our survival, yet are being destroyed. With headquarters in Los Angeles and volunteer teams in more than 90 countries and territories, Reef Check works to protect tropical coral reefs and California rocky reefs through education, research and conservation.
Every year, Reef Check trains thousands of citizen scientist divers who volunteer to survey the health of coral reefs around the world, and rocky reef ecosystems along the entire coast of California. The results are used to improve the management of these critically important natural resources. Reef Check programs provide ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions to save reefs, by creating partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities and other nonprofits.
Sea Shepherd New Zealand is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd New Zealand uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd New Zealand works to ensure their survival for future generations.
Surfers for Cetaceans
Surfers for Cetaceans is committed to activating ocean-minded people everywhere to support the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and marine life. It’s through compassion, awareness, education, media and dedicated interventions that we will accomplish this goal.
Surfers For Cetaceans was co-founded by professional surfer Dave Rastovich and ocean artist/activist Howie Cooke in 2004. The group was formed to mobilise surfers and the surf media against whaling and dolphin kills. As S4C established itself in the conservation world, it became apparent that more was needed from the group, and that simply informing the surfing community was not bringing enough results.
In 2006 the Humpback Whale Icon Project was co-created by IFAW, The Oceania Project and S4C. The project sees towns all along the coastline of Australia adopting specific Humpback Whales that pass by each town twice a year. The acknowledgment of individual whales which are identified by their unique body markings has seen Australia celebrate their migration and be able to identify their history and personalities. They are no longer just another whale. They are Venus, adopted by Sydney, Yumbalehla adopted by Byron Bay and so on.
Feeling the need for more direct action and through establishing links with American conservation group, the Ocean Preservation Society, S4C embarked on a front line expose of Japans annual dolphin drives.
In October 2007 Surfers For Cetaceans held two peaceful ceremonies in the ‘Killing Cove’ in Taiji, Japan. Whilst the first ceremony was held when no dolphins or whales were being killed, the second ceremony was held in the blood-stained waters of the bay as the fishermen slaughtered a pod of twenty-four Pilot Whales. With international media present the group of surfers and celebraties attending managed to slow down the kills and expose this brutal reality to millions of people world wide. And perhaps of more immediate impact, helped expose the truth that dolphin and whale meat is highly toxic and unsuitable for consumption. This has seen local schools and supermarkets remove all dolphin meat from their menus.
Along with the Whale Icon Project and Taiji Dolphin campaigns S4C has held protests outside Japanese Embassies In Australia, educated children in Australia through school visits, and brought the issue of whaling and dolphin kills to millions of surfers worldwide through print, film, radio, and internet mediums.
Surfers For Cetaceans acknowledges the many imbalances and issues our oceans face, though focuses on the cetacean issue due to the fact that our global surfing culture has such an intimate human and cetacean relationship. We share the inter species bond of riding waves for the sheer joy of it. The surfers love for dolphins and whales is one born of direct interaction in the ocean waves., and creates a feeling of compassion and kinship with cetaceans.
We seek to be a human voice for and defender of cetaceans worldwide.