environmental impact, sustainability, values, philanthropy

Going all in with 1% for the Planet

By Mark Odegard

Recognizing the massive gap in funding for environmental initiatives, Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, started 1% for the Planet. Chouinard described the venture: “The intent of 1% for the Planet is to help fund these diverse environmental organizations so that collectively they can be a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems.”

The premise is simple. Businesses make a commitment to donate at least 1% of their revenue to environmental organizations that partner with 1% for the Planet. In return, the business can use the 1% for the Planet logo on their products, websites, and marketing materials. Their participation demonstrates they are committed to the environment.

And the certification model is solid. There isn’t a lot of magic involved – definitely no smoke and mirrors. Participating businesses must upload their P&L on an annual basis and provide documentation of their donation provided by an approved environmental organization. 1% for the Planet vets the nonprofits in their network before they are approved to be a member, so there is a built in level of trust and transparency to the certification. Show how much you made, how much you donated, and who you donated to and you are certified.

Only 3% of philanthropic giving goes to environmental causes.

1% for the Planet

Why do businesses partner with 1% for the Planet?

1% for the Planet's website says that “in the U.S., 28% of all consumers recognize our logo—a number that has grown more than five times since 2013.” Consumers increasingly want to know about the environmental credibility of the companies they buy products from. With such broad awareness and recognition of 1% for the Planet and what it means, the logo is an easy way for a company to appeal to a large demographic. And the demographic that cares about environmental causes – Millennials are the largest cohort – have money to spend.

But a more important motivation – the key motivation for Measure Meant – is addressing the climate crisis. The World Health Organization identifies the climate crisis as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity”. Climate change will exacerbate health impacts and death related to malnutrition, disease, and extreme heat. It will also lead to mass displacement – in 2020 nearly 31 million people were displaced due to weather and climate hazards. One study estimates that global deaths could increase by 5 million people per year. That same study suggests that “one future premature death is caused every time roughly 1,000 … tonnes of carbon are burned”. Every day of inaction creates suffering for those currently living, and those who are yet to be born.

Given the scale of the problem, it would be fair to assume that philanthropic giving is directed largely to environmental issues. But if you were to make that assumption, you’d be wrong. Nearly 80 percent of giving in the US is directed to religion, education, human services, grantmaking foundations, and public-society benefit.

Money on Fire
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

In fact, 1% for the Planet says that “only 3% of total philanthropic giving goes to environmental causes.” Just 3% of nearly $500 billion of total annual giving in the US.

With the increasing visibility on the environmental challenges facing the globe, more companies are realizing that the crisis is an existential threat to their business. This is no longer something that is happening to other people.

Many companies, like our own, don’t have the ability to radically change how our products are made, packaged or delivered. Our environmental impacts are relatively small and few of them are within our direct control. So taking action for includes supporting environmental organizations that are addressing the problems we face as a global community. And large companies that do have control of aspects of their environmental impacts are members of 1% for the Planet. They are members because they know that supporting environmental organizations is necessary to address the crisis and that partnering with 1% for the Planet amplifies their ability to create change.

Some might say that committing to donating 1% of revenues is like throwing money in the fire. But in a burning world, that 1% you are hanging on to will be consumed by fire soon enough.

For us, it’s a simple choice. Which is why we are all in with 1% for the Planet.

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