Patagonia's mission statement is: build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. For 33 years, Patagonia has supported over 1,000 environmental groups by donating 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. We built Patagonia Action Works (PAW) to take this a step further—connecting their consumer base to their grantees in order to advance Patagonia's mission and deepen their connection with both parties.
The Trump administration in the United States is pushing an anti-environment, pro-resource extraction agenda and has gone so far as to rescind protected national monuments and open protected public land to possible oil and gas leases. With the declining state of our global environment and the drastic lack of government support in the United States, it is more important now than ever that corporations pick up where the government has dropped off in regard to environmental initiatives and community involvement. In order to create real change in an political ecosystem that is working against the brand's core values, it was time for Patagonia to think bigger. Patagonia Action Works is a response-driven, relationship building digital tool that elevates grassroots environmental activists and connects them with committed individuals who want to make a difference. PAW was driven by a desire to transform brand values into tangible actions. In the words of Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, "Evil wins if we do nothing. So do something."
Sign up, show up, take action—it's like a dating site for those who care about our planet. Patagonia Action Works connects grassroots organizations working on environmental issues with passionate individuals who want to get involved. The platform we built allows local environmental groups to directly interact with Patagonia's customer base in their communities and post opportunities that will help them strengthen their cause. Through skilled volunteering, events, donations, and petitions, communities are able to work together to solve some of the most pressing environmental threats facing the world today. This tool applies modern e-commerce techniques to an activist network, targeting an engaged audience with a call to action.
Patagonia Action Works was executed through an extremely collaborative process between the creative agency and Patagonia's digital and environmental coordination teams over fifteen months. Bringing Patagonia's nearly 40-year-old granting program into a modern, digitally connected context required brainstorming, prototyping, user testing, service provider partnerships, and the formation of an internal team to keep it running. First, we talked to Patagonia's grantees—we surveyed them, asked about their needs, and listened. We learned that they would benefit most from increased access to Patagonia's customer community who are motivated and looking for opportunities to get involved. We asked the same questions of Patagonia's core community and found that their customers trust the brand to evaluate and promote opportunities for them to get involved and take action locally. From there, we identified and built an impactful way to create connections between these communities that are more meaningful and diverse than current "clicktivism" platforms but less restrictive than traditional programmatic volunteer efforts. This platform allows Patagonia to shine its spotlight on local grassroots environmental organizations while giving their consumer base a vetted and accessible opportunity to act.
We designed an empowering and innovative UX flow and digital experience—one that users will return to often. An easy to use, custom-built dashboard gives grassroots environmental groups the power, capabilities, and reach of true enterprise fundraising or political tools. PAW provides visibility for over 1,000 environmental organizations—currently, US-based grantees can submit content to populate the ecosystem, and this will roll out to international grantees with planned evolution and expansion into further markets. International expansion will increase, strengthen, and widen PAW's impact, allowing more people and organizations to make meaningful relationships world-wide. Designed to integrate with digital marketing efforts, PAW allows Patagonia to easily highlight local grantees' calls to action via targeted emails and social ads from the brand's corporate accounts in order to bring more groups together—this includes roughly 2M email subscribers and 1.3M+ Facebook followers. The scale of PAW's integration is still evolving, and we continue to work on further integrating the platform into patagonia.com, expanding and streamlining interaction points, and increasing its presence within both Patagonia and wholesale retail stores. Going beyond donations, the tools, audience, and support that PAW offers advances Patagonia's mission by allowing them to provide an open-ended, self-sustaining tool for grantees to use and grow with indefinitely.
Transforming an internal grant system into a public-facing platform is a true evolution in how companies can further propel their efforts in social responsibility with a call to action—building upon internal accomplishments by empowering the public to join. Moving past digital "clicktivism," the initial announcement of this idea brought tears of joy to the organization leaders, as it would help them build long-term capacity to achieve their goals. In the first six months, leveraging access to Patagonia's informed and engaged consumer base resulted in 121,000+ meaningful advocacy actions—skills-based volunteering, event attendance, petition signatures, and direct donations—generating $1.9M+ in value created. During this time, skill-based volunteering resulted in 7,400+ hours donated for high-value skills such as web development, language translation, and marketing strategy. With 1.6B+ impressions and 350,000+ user sessions to date, growing this motivated and committed network will continue to empower local environmental groups to do their work better than ever and help connect communities in new and important ways.
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