Patagonia decision shows how trusts can be used for public good, says STEP

The decision of Yvon Chouinard to give away his company, outdoor fashion brand Patagonia, to a charitable trust is the latest example of how trusts can be used for the public good, according to STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners).

The Patagonia Purpose Trust will receive the voting stock of the company and will “protect the company’s values”. All non-voting stock will go to Holdfast Collective, a non-profit organisation that will use Patagonia’s profits to “fight the environmental crisis and defend nature”, said Chouinard.

Commenting on this development, Emily Deane TEP, Technical Counsel and Head of Government Affairs at STEP, said:

“The announcement that the founder of Patagonia is using a non-profit philanthropic structure to give away his company to fight climate change is welcome news – both for the environment, and also as an example of how trusts and other philanthropic structures can be used for the public good

STEP members who advise wealthy business-owning families report that the pandemic has prompted many of their clients to examine their purpose, as issues relating to equality came to the fore during a very challenging time

STEP and our members can provide expert comment on how trusts (and other philanthropic structures) can be used to allow business founders to give away their profits for public good – and why the ‘responsible stewardship of wealth’ is a key issue for high-net worth individuals.”

Explaining his decision, Chouinard said:

“It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started.

If we have any hope of a thriving planet – much less a thriving business – 50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is another way we’ve found to do our part.

Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.”

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