OVERVIEW: Patagonia is best known for its hugely popular backpacks, coats, and other outdoor gear. But environmental philanthropy is one of its goods, too. The company donates one percent of sales revenue to nonprofits making efforts to conserve and protect natural landscapes and wildlife. Small, grassroots, activist organizations that mobilize average citizens and press for public-policy change are what it likes best.
In addition to programs for biodiversity and water/marine conservation, it has an entire initiative devoted to restoring trout populations.
IP TAKE: Patagonia likes groups that seek long-term change and involve a strong base of grassroots support. Here’s an interesting twist: Patagonia stores take applications year round and store employees review them.
PROFILE: Patagonia might donates 1% of annual sales goes to charitable causes, which adds up to $55 million given to more than 1,000 organizations in 20 countries. Aside from a number of company environmental initiatives—such as allowing employees to go on leave to work for environmental nonprofits, and recycling a bunch of its own clothing—Patagonia gives a ton to green groups.
A big priority for that giving is water and marine conservation, one of nine categories of grants and donations. Patagonia gives out about a million dollars in grant money annually to groups working to protect rivers, oceans, wetlands, aquifers and vernal pools. Most individual Patagonia grants go up to $12,000, but that’s a bit flexible. You can browse Patagonia’s past grantees here.
It’s also worth noting that Patagonia has made a major priority to restore native fish species through its World Trout Initiative. The program sells T-shirts bearing the trout art of naturalist James Prosek, and proceeds have gone to groups like The Snake River Fund, California Trout, and the Wild Fish Conservancy.
Some of the qualities that make a group shine in Patagonia’s eyes include a strong citizen base of support, quantifiable goals, ambitious, long-term plans and creative approaches. Patagonia also takes pride in funding edgier groups that other foundations might not, since the money comes from its own profits.
But one of the most interesting things about Patagonia’s grantmaking process is that, if your organization is near a store, you can submit a proposal at the brick and mortar location, and store employees will actually review it. If not, you can always apply online. Keep in mind that deadlines for submissions are April 30 and August 31.
- Hans Cole, Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy
- Lisa Meyers, Environmental Grants Manager