As donors move into the climate space for the first time, the options can be overwhelming. The climate landscape is exceedingly technical and multifaceted, with myriad possible solutions vying for attention and funding. These range from political movements to technological research to behavior change.

I founded Giving Green, an initiative to help donors find the most impactful, evidence-backed, and cost-effective ways to fight climate change. Based on our research, I wanted to share four guiding principles for budding climate change mitigation philanthropists as they seek to be effective in fighting climate change through giving.

Focus on the Big Issue

We recommend that climate mitigation philanthropists focus squarely on solutions that reduce emissions, remove emissions, or otherwise directly contribute to changing the temperature on the planet (such as researching solar radiation management).

Target Systems Change

Given that almost every activity we do in the modern world causes emissions, there are tons of small actions individuals or organizations can undertake to fight global warming. A commuter can ride a bike instead of driving; a rancher can manage grazing to sequester carbon in the soil; anyone can plant a tree. And philanthropists can support organizations working on all of these activities.

But projects directly working to reduce emissions are necessarily limited in scope. It is impossible to win the fight against climate change by blanketing the world with little projects. Instead, we need to change the laws, norms, and systems that make emissions part of everyday life.

Maximize Expected Returns

While there are almost innumerable smaller-scale projects to fight climate change and, of course, each organization will have its niche, in general effective philanthropy should be funding solutions that can cause huge decreases in emissions.

Find Neglected Spaces

As more money flows into key parts of the climate fight, certain issue areas can become saturated with funding and battles become harder and harder to win. It’s certainly not a rule set in stone, but in general there are decreasing marginal returns to additional money for many initiatives. Therefore, new donors can have greater impact by using innovative strategies that are different from larger and more established funders.

Read the full article about fighting climate change by Daniel Stein at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.