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Jameelah Mujaahid

Freeplay Magazine

November 3, 2015 Comments (6) Charity Events, Community, Interviews, Trails

Small Change – Erin Fitzgerald

When Erin Fitzgerald, Portland native and long time lover of running, decided to start a blog, she wanted it to be more than just sharing advice for running and adventure travel, she wanted to make a difference.   “I was looking for a creative outlet, something that I could do to combine my passion for running, interest in sustainability and giving back,” Erin explains.  And so with that in mind, she started the Small Change initiative – an outlet to help and inspire others to give back to the communities in which they run.

Originally Small Change was launched so that Fitzgerald could donate money to non-profit organizations in each of the cities in which she traveled for races and other adventures.  It would make her “accountable” for offsetting the impact she was making in each of those communities. 

Instead of just sharing her personal Small Change stories, Erin opened the arena to all runners, walkers, and adventure travelers. It is simple – after planning a race or adventure, find an organization that is important to you and make a contribution. You can choose to donate as little or as much as you are comfortable (you’d be surprised how much each dollar can help). Then share your Small Change story on


Fitzgerald lists some great resources on her site if choosing a non-profit organization seems a daunting task. Many races include a list of beneficiaries. You can choose one of those or one of your own. Past beneficiaries have focused on environment and conservation, animals, children, food assistance and recovery but are not limited to these categories. Finding an organization that is important to you is half the fun – it can make each race more personal and meaningful. 

To share your story, fill out a short online form on Fitzgerald’s site: Name (you can remain anonymous), Race or Destination, Organization that received the donation with a brief description of the non-profit, and the Amount donated. In return, the origination who received the donation will be featured on her site, along with social media platforms. 

Her site tracks the dollar amount of donations that have been shared through the Small Change initiative. You can see how quickly each dollar adds up, however small it may seem. 

Though the site focuses on monetary donations, Fitzgerald encourages each of us to find ways to volunteer our time and other resources at races, bringing a greater appreciation to what goes into making each race possible. 


Photo: Christopher Cook

Though Fitzgerald has been running as long as she can remember, she ran her first marathon, the New York Marathon, in 1996. A two week adventure run on the Inca Trail of Peru, sealed her love for trail and mountain running. After several running injuries she adopted a “no pavement” policy and has been running trails ever since. She finds them more forgiving on the body, more challenging, and more rewarding then the road. 

Along with Small Change, Fitzgerald is the president of the board of Betties360, whose mission is to inspire confidence, well-being and community in girls through action sports, outdoor adventure, and life skill education.

For more information on Erin Fitzgerald and the Small Change initiative visit  Together, we can make a difference. 

Cover photo courtesy: Christopher Cook

6 Responses to Small Change – Erin Fitzgerald

  1. Adam Haesler says:

    Love this idea. And Erin I totally agree on all points about trails over roads.

  2. Erin is proof that we can all combine our passions with a way to give back and make a difference. Great feature.

  3. Christopher Cook says:

    Chelsea did a great job on this article! Erin, I want to hear about your Inca Trail run the next time I see you.

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