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Raising The Financial Stakes At 1% For The Planet

Karsten Würth

Twenty years after its founding, the 1% for the Planet environmental group has stepped into the world of high finance by launching a new investment fund that will put money into private and public efforts to promote sustainability.

The organization’s Planet Impact Fund was announced on April 6 in partnership with CapShift, which provides impact investing services to Fidelity Charitable, the American Endowment Foundation, and other organizations; and the National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that provides philanthropic expertise to donors, foundations and financial institutions.

Photo Courtesy Naja Bertolt Jensen

The fund is available to donors of all sizes and features a public and private allocation. The public allocation will include mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and target best-in-class managers who invest in innovative companies and technologies. The private allocation will focus on high-impact, nonpublic investment opportunities to mitigate the changing climate. 

Each year the Planet Impact Fund will disburse about 10% of all funds to vetted environmental nonprofits. The goal here is to support organizations that advance environmental justice and work to elevate the communities and ecosystems most impacted by threats to the environment.

The new fund represents a natural progression for 1% for the Planet, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia; and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, which provides fly fishing equipment. The organization is set up to encourage businesses and individuals to donate 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits. Since its founding, it has garnered more than $350 million in donations.

Now 1% for the Planet aims to take the next step by ensuring an even more significant financial commitment toward its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

“We’ve done really well with our existing model, with strong record growth in membership over the last two years, so it would be very easy to say, ‘Cool, we’ve got the model, the flywheel is turning, and just keep keepin’ on,’” CEO Kate Williams told Fast Company in a recent interview. “But that’s not enough, and it’s not how we want to roll and show up for the planet.”

Photo Courtesy Angela Benito

The idea for the impact fund was driven by a desire on the part of Williams and her team to dramatically boost its impact.

“This fund tool enables us to tap the power of philanthropy to drive the additional power of impact investing,” says Williams. “Both members and nonmembers can donate, so there’s a real opportunity here to significantly expand and accelerate our goals by adding exponential growth to our incremental growth model.”

There are a couple of ways to contribute to the Planet Impact Fund. Donors can make tax-deductible donations directly to the fund, with the money going toward environmental impact investments and grants. Donors who give $25,000 or more can open their own donor-advised fund (DAF) on the Planet Impact Fund platform. Individual DAFs will invest in pre-selected environmental impact investments. DAF holders can recommend grants to qualified charities as long as their DAF has capital.

You can donate with a credit card, wire transfer, or check, as well as with cryptocurrencies and illiquid assets. The initial annual net fees covering the fund’s management, advisory, and administration services are estimated at 2.5%. But those fees should dip below 2% a year as the fund reaches scale.

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