This is the time of year many think most intently about giving and about gratitude. Here are some stories to galvanize and guide us in these practices.
One especially inspiring story from 2022 is that of legendary Yvon Chouinard, who this year gave away his equally legendary company, Patagonia, to help fight climate change.
- David Gelles’s NYT article is excellent: “Billionaire no more: Patagonia founder gives away the company.”
- Erin McCormick has a similar (though less comprehensive) piece in The Guardian: “Patagonia’s billionaire owner gives away company to fight climate crisis.”
- Tom Brokaw offers a personal angle here in the NYT: “Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia. He’s also my ‘dirtbag’ friend.”
- Some US accounts of this gift see it as unprecedented in its structuring, but this piece by Tima Bansal in Forbes explains a European context: “Chouinard’s donation of Patagonia is big and bold, but not new.” It is also like all large (and many modest) charitable donations in having some tax benefits: “Philanthropy, the billionaires’ way” (NYT).
- Patagonia’s climate goal website is interesting, too.
Large-scale climate giving is too large a topic in itself to cover here. These three articles offer an intriguing introduction.
- “The Climate Philanthropists” (David Gelles, NYT, Climate Forward newsletter). Beginning with Chouinard’s gift, Gelles then looks at other big donors.
- “Charitable giving to fight climate change rises 25% to $7.5B” (Jim Rendon, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, AP News) While anything in the billions will sound to most of us like a lot of money, “giving from individuals and foundations to climate-related causes remains a stubbornly small percentage of overall charitable giving.”
- This Forbes piece focuses on the (very hefty) Bezos Earth Fund but also explains some of the complications in funding climate action.
We all know, of course, that giving need not be large-scale to matter. It doesn’t even need to be monetary. As Mackenzie Scott, another inspirational philanthropist, reminds us, “There are lots of resources each of us can pull from our safes to share with others — time, attention, knowledge, patience, creativity, talent, effort, humor, compassion.” Plus, she adds, “voice” and “information.”
Sometimes, though, we do want to donate actual — if modest — money to climate action. There are many, many ways to do so. If you’d like a few suggestions and some links, see these three sites:
As Yves Chouinard explained in his gift announcement, “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.”