Industry News 9/9/2015

B$Z: Patagonia Hits Key Environmental Activism Milestones

Today, Patagonia is announcing three key milestones that demonstrate how environmental activism continues to become more and more embedded in the core of our business.

We gave $6.2 million to 741 grassroots environmental groups around the world; we appointed a new senior leader to focus on activism; and we will again host Patagonia’s biennial Tools Conference – a four-day conference for small grassroots organizations – later this month.

You can read more about these milestones below and get in-depth with Patagonia’s social and environmental initiatives here. An interactive global map containing all 741 local grant recipients is available here.

Giving 1% of our sales to grassroots activists worldwide

Each year, Patagonia pledges 1% of our sales to the protection and restoration of the natural environment – regardless of the health of our sales or the economy. We call it our Earth Tax.

This year, we identified 741 local grassroots environmental groups in 18 countries, and gave them $6.2 million in cash to rivers and forests, promote sustainable agriculture, prevent extreme resource extraction, protect endangered wildlife and habitat, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In the conventional model of philanthropy, the big funders – corporations and foundations – mainly support big professional environmental groups. The large national organizations (those with budgets over $5 million) are doing important work; but they make up just 2% of all environmental groups, yet receive more than 50% of all environmental grants and donations.

Meanwhile, funding the environmental movement at a grassroots level - where change happens from the bottom up and lasts – has never been more important. But these groups continue to be woefully underfunded. That’s why we support community-based organizations – often edgy and off the beaten path – working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards. These individual battles are the most effective in raising more complicated issues in the public mind, particularly those of biodiversity, ecosystem protection and climate change.

Since our program began in 1985, we’ve given $70 million to more than 3,500 groups globally.

New position: VP of Environmental Activism

We also appointed Lisa Pike Sheehy to a newly created role: Vice President for Environmental Activism. Lisa will bring activism even more deeply into our day-to-day business. She joins Patagonia’s core leadership team and will report directly to CEO Rose Marcario.

Lisa has been with Patagonia for 12 years, and has strategically guided 1% for the Planet annual giving. She also oversaw initiatives like Oceans as Wilderness, Our Common Waters, Vote the Environment and the most recent New Localism campaigns. She serves as a Board Member for the Outdoor Industry Association and 1% for the Planet, and previously sat on the Conservation Alliance board for 10 years. Just last year, Lisa was honored as a recipient of the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition Pioneering Woman of the Year Award.

She’ll continue to oversee grassroots giving as well as running and developing environmental campaigns, and will oversee Patagonia’s Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference.

Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference

In its 21st year, we will be hosting our biennial Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference later this month – bringing representatives from more than 85 grassroots environmental organizations to an intensive, four-day learning and idea-sharing retreat.

These groups often have fewer than five paid staffers, often without direct expertise in every field required for successful campaigning. We’re looking forward to talking with local organizers about ways to enhance activist efforts through advocacy, fundraising, marketing and communications, campaign strategy and social media, among other critical areas.

Presenters this year include Anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis, Communications Strategist and Spitfire Strategies Founder Kristen Grimm, Google Earth Outreach Team members, Patagonia Owner and Founder Yvon Chouinard, and Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. 

And in Spring 2016, for the first time Patagonia will release a book corresponding with the Tools Conference, designed to bring its activist teachings – strategy and tactics – to a much wider audience and expand the conference’s reach.