Instead of selling the company or taking it public, Chouinard, who became famous for alpine climbs in Yosemite National Park and has a net worth of $1.2 billion, is transferring his family's ownership of the company to a trust and a non-profit organization.
"Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis," he wrote in an open letter on the company's website on Wednesday.
The company's voting stock is being transferred to the Patagonia Purpose Trust while non-voting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. The trust will be overseen by members of the family.
While rich individuals often make financial contributions to causes, the New York Times said the structure of the Patagonia founder's action meant he and his family would get no financial benefit - and in fact would face a tax bill from the donation.