Billionaire Founder Of Patagonia Donates Company To Save The Earth

By Sumedha Mukherjee

Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor apparel company Patagonia, donates his company to a non-profit organization in order to fight the climate crisis and save the earth. He could have sold the famous sports brand valued at $3 billion dollars, or made the company public. But he chose the path that aligns closest with his dedication to the environment.

Donating For The Climate

Chouinard, who was a leading rock climber in California’s Yosemite Valley in the 1960s, founded Patagonia in 1973. From the very beginning, the company had advertised its strong environmental stance.

It had adopted green policies like organic cotton to on-site child care. Every year it has also given away 1% of its sales to grass-roots environmental activists.

Chouinard, his wife Melinda, and their children Fletcher and Claire have unanimously decided to relinquish the family fortune. The family irrevocably transferred the company’s voting stock or 2% of overall shares to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, and the remaining 98% of its common shares to a non-profit dedicated to fighting climate change called the Holdfast Collective.

By giving away their valuable assets, the Chouinard family has become one of the most charitable families in the USA. “As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done” , Chouinard said.

Chouinard chose donation after eliminating other options. Selling the company was dubious as “we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed” .

Making the brand public was also written off. “Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility” , he said.

Dedicated To Earth

David Callahan, the founder of the website Inside Philanthropy, said, “This family is a way outlier when you consider that most billionaires give only a tiny fraction of their net worth away every year.” He also pointed out that hundreds of billionaires who sign pledges to donate “don’t give away that much, and tend to get richer every year”.

Patagonia will continue to function as a private, for-profit organization, selling jackets, hats, ski pants, and other mountaineering apparel worth over $1 billion each year. The Holdfast Collective will now receive all the company’s profits and use the funds to fight climate change.

Chouinard, now 83, said in an interview, “Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people”. He also stated the intention of giving away “the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet”.

Yvon Chouinard stayed true to his ideals through thick and thin, even if it meant giving up his billion-dollar business to see healthier and greener earth.

Originally published at on September 15, 2022.



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