Billionaire donates entire company valued at $3 billion to nonprofit

Yvon Chouinard, 83, founder of outdoor sports apparel and accessories brand Patagonia, has taken the concept of philanthropy to a whole new level.

The company, valued at $3 billion with an annual profit of around $100 million, was donated by the founder, his wife Malinda and their two adult children, Fletcher and Claire. With the donation, which does not have any type of tax benefit, the family will pay US$ 17.5 million in taxes and fees.

In a letter published on the company’s website and signed by the founder, Chouinard highlighted that “Earth is our only shareholder” and detailed that all the company’s common shares (2% of the total) were transferred to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a fund created specifically to protect the value of the company, which will be overseen by members of the Chouinard family and other directors.

The remaining 98%, made up of non-voting shares, was donated to Holdfast Collective, a non-governmental organization dedicated to fighting the climate crisis and defending nature.

In his letter, which could be considered a farewell letter, Chouinard recalled how he started the company, writing that he never wanted to be a “businessman” and started out as a craftsman, producing climbing equipment for himself and his friends.

“As we begin to look at the effects of climate change and ecological destruction and our own contribution to it, Patagonia is committed to changing the way business is done.” The intention, he explained, was to do the right thing while making enough money to pay the bills, while influencing other customers and businesses to change the way they work.

Patagonia store in Santa Monica
(Photo: Reproduction)

Patagonia, one of the forerunners of the famous vest that circulates along Avenida Faria Lima, one of the financial centers of São Paulo, uses materials that cause less damage to the environment and donates 1% of its revenue annually. Despite efforts, Chouinard continues, there was a sense that more could be done. One of the options was to sell the company and donate all the money. “But I wouldn’t be sure that a new owner would keep our values ​​and team,” he says.

Another thoughtful path was an IPO. “What a disaster it could have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under a lot of pressure to create short-term gains at the cost of long-term responsibility and vitality,” he declared.

In an interview with the New York Times, Chouinard said he hopes his attitude “will influence a ‘new form of capitalism’ that doesn’t end in a handful of rich people and a lot of poor people.”

The company, meanwhile, continues to operate as a privately held company, based in Ventura, California, which sells more than $1 billion worth of jackets (and vests) every year.

billion dollar donations

Chouinard and his family are part of a growing list of billionaires who have decided to donate some or all of their fortunes to causes.

In the United States, The Giving Plegde movement, founded by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, was created in 2010 to encourage wealthy individuals and families to contribute a significant part to social causes. Personalities such as American businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, Mark Zuckerbeg, founder of Facebook, Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, Ric Elias, founder of Red Ventures, Elie and Susy Horn, of Cyrela, and David Velez, founder of Nubank

In Brazil, Lia Maria Aguiar, one of the heirs of Banco Bradesco, stipulated, in her will, that her fortune of around US$ 1.2 billion should be entirely transferred to Fundação Lia Maria Aguiar, based in Campos do Jordão.

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About Yadunandan Singh

Born in 1992, Yadunandan approaches the world of video games thanks to two sacred monsters like Diablo and above all Sonic, strictly in the Sega Saturn version. Ranging between consoles and PCs, he is particularly fond of platform titles and RPGs, not disdaining all other genres and moving in the constant search for the perfect balance between narration and interactivity.

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