“Philanthropy generally, we consider as contributing private money for public good or community good. And climate philanthropy is simply when we are making those private contributions in ways that are going to address the climate crisis that our country and that the world is facing today,” Heather Grady, Vice President of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) told me.

Most of us think about philanthropy as financial contributions of various forms from wealthy individuals or foundations. Clearly, the Rockefeller family is renowned for its fortune and largess, as the name adorns many buildings and organizations, including the famed Rockefeller Foundation.

Philanthropy can also play an advisory and catalytic role in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. Grady says that climate philanthropy can serve a particularly valuable role as a resource beyond funding to systems and connections that help scale the impact of their dollars, and other resources, including government funding and incentives. She says they can help communities become more resilient to the physical, economic and social effects of climate change, and help expedite solutions, including serving to de-risk innovations to attract private capital.

The irony of the RPA’s aggressive focus on climate philanthropy (though not only on this) is that the original builder of the fortune the Rockefeller-related entities now leverage, J.D. Rockefeller, earned that fortune by building Standard Oil Company, now known as ExxonMobil (after many splits and mergers). For perspective, the Library of Congress characterizes his wealth this way: “According to Forbes, (J.D.) Rockefeller’s total assets in 1937 equaled 1.5% of America’s total economic output for that same year, making him one of the wealthiest people in the world to this day (in comparison, Bill Gates’ wealth in 2018 would be 0.45% of 2018 GDP).”

The RPA website describes the organization this way: “Founded in 2002, RPA has grown into one of the world’s largest philanthropic service organizations and has facilitated more than $4 billion in grantmaking to more than 70 countries. RPA currently advises on and manages more than $500 million in annual giving by individuals, families, foundations, and corporations. RPA also serves as a fiscal sponsor for more than 100 projects, providing governance, management, and operational infrastructure to support their charitable purposes.”


Read the full article about climate philanthropy by Joan Michelson at Forbes.