It started when the Foundation – one of the largest responsive funders in the world – found they had not ‘been receiving the level and quality of applications from environment charities that [they] hope for’, and were therefore unable to fully support the sector. This common challenge of responsive philanthropy is complex – why weren’t organisation’s applying for funding? Are there enough environmental organisations out there? Are they conducting impactful work? Do they need money? Do they know where to seek funding? Do they know Garfield Weston Foundation? Are they lacking resource to apply? And the biggest one: How can we, as funders, strategically enable their work?

We knew the right approach to uncovering the answers to these questions was to develop a better understanding of the sector as a whole. But this is easier said than done! Looking at a complex system like civil society, even when you only focus on a sub-set such as environmental charities, requires careful and nuanced exploration, as well as time and effort. We often work with funders facing similar questions in their areas of work, so we wanted to share some of the steps we followed with Garfield Weston Foundation to uncover the secrets behind the sector, and arrive at the findings in the report.

  • Step 1: Paint a picture of the sector
  • Step 2: Hear directly from sector leaders
  • Step 3: Share the knowledge you’ve built
  • Step 4: Take action to fund strategically

And that’s it! This is certainly a journey that requires investment, and we believe funders have a responsibility to invest in this knowledge, even in the world of responsive philanthropy. If you haven’t started this journey yet, these steps can be replicated for almost any sector, and can support donors of every size to become more strategic, enabling a thriving sector to deliver the impact you seek.

Read the full article about responsive philanthropy by Gabriela Cervera at Alliance Magazine.