Giving Compass' Take:

• Morten Wendelbo discusses avenues for impact that foundations prioritizing climate change can follow. 

• What can your organization do to better impact climate change and those impacted by it? 

• Learn about the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Twenty-nine mostly U.S.-based philanthropic institutions, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation plan to spend an unprecedented total of US$4 billion over the next five years addressing climate change.

But what exactly can charitable efforts on that scale do to slow the pace of global warming and help people cope with its consequences? Based on my research in disaster preparedness and response, I believe that although philanthropy amounts to only a small part of climate change spending worldwide, givers can make a big difference to those already suffering the consequences.

There are two main priorities for all climate-related spending, no matter the source.

One is forward-looking. It has to do with actions and research that might avert climate change on the most disastrous scale possible.

The other addresses what’s happening now. The effects of a warming world are increasingly becoming a matter of reality, and not just hypothetical concerns about what might occur in the future. There are people who have already lost their homes, livelihoods or loved onesbecause of the changing climate.

There will be more of them in the years ahead – probably including hundreds of millions of people in countries like Bangladesh who can least cope with the changes. According to the World Bank, climate change and poverty are now so intertwined that they can only be solved together.

Philanthropists also have a third climate-spending priority to consider: reducing collateral damage.

Actions to curb climate change may have unintended consequences that hit specific groups of people hardest. Some of the policies and technologies that can help slow down climate change by reducing carbon emissions are bound to create a few losers even if the winners are far more numerous.

Read the full article about foundations prioritizing climate change by Morten Wendelbo at The Conversation.