The site of the Kalivac Dam on the Vjosa River in Albania, where Holdfast has funded a major conservation project. Photo Credit: Andrew Burr/Patagonia

EnvironmentHeroes USA23. February 2024

Charity and Politics, a New Model in Philanthropy

American outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia underwent an unconventional corporate restructuring in 2022 that paved the way for philanthropists to make a change, sometimes utilizing investment in politicians, notably those focused on environmental issues.

“There is such a lack of pro-climate funding that wants to get into straight-up political fights,” states Chris Lehman, an organizer for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California. “With Patagonia, you now have a major player that cares deeply and is putting their name and reputation on the line.”

Since September 2022, more than $71 million in profits have been distributed through a series of trusts, limited liability corporations, and charitable groups – thus protecting the independence of the clothing company. During its first year in operation, Holdfast Collective contributed to more than 70 groups through donations, grants, and political contributions – a total of $200,000 to elect Democrats to Congress – to groups like Black Voters Matter Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the Georgia Investor Action Fund. Holdfast does not intend to be partisan, giving mainly to organizations supporting local politicians campaigning on environmental issues.


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