When it comes to brand purpose, few brands can match Patagonia's impact. Its extensive donations to protect the planet get plenty of attention, even more so since founder Yvon Chouinard's decision last month to donate the entire $3 billion company to fight climate change.
And as it refines its Patagonia Action Works, a digital program to recruit and train new activists, the retailer is finding new ways to amplify its brand values.
"We'd been giving money to environmental causes for a long time," said Scott Carrington, director of digital impact, in a presentation at MediaPost's recent Brand Insider Summit: D2C. "But we asked ourselves, 'what more can we do?'"
The result is Patagonia Action Works, which launched in 2018. It fosters hyperlocal activism, often aligned with its individual retail locations. The site connects individuals to organizations working on the environmental issues they care about most, with members in all 50 states.
Founder Chouinard has called it "a dating site" for those looking to find ways to make a difference. The idea is to transform Patagonia's brand values into tangible action at the local level and digitally amplify each organization's efforts. That helps them raise money, attract volunteers, generate awareness and protect the environment -- no matter how small their mission is.
It helps that in 2018, Patagonia Action Works also crystallized its mission statement: "We're in business to save our home planet." And that makes it easier for small organizations to view Patagonia as an ally.
"They already see us," Carrington said. "We are aligned at the values level."
The PAW dashboard makes it easy for people to find petitions, learn about events and discover organizations that best match their interests. Impact areas and campaigns range from climate justice to neighborhood drilling bans to protecting native fish.
Patagonia also helps organizations increase their impact by focusing on one thing -- such as attending a rally or signing a petition -- and choosing the right words and imagery.
Besides helping those groups achieve their goals, the effort also builds awareness and goodwill toward Patagonia beyond typical outdoor industry customers.
"Our community has attracted more than 700,000 activists," Carrington said, "with only a 30% overlap of our customer base."
The group is also a more diverse audience than Patagonia's core customer, "and much younger."
It also drives significant reach on the retailer's digital channels, resulting in over a million impressions on behalf of grantees.
So far, PAW has generated more than 69,000 hours of skilled volunteering, saving grantees more than $12 million and $12.7 million in donations.
Thousands of petitions and events have been submitted, collecting more than 800,000 signatures and close to 600,000 RSVPs.