In the United States, environmental giving comprises just 3% of total philanthropy (Giving USA). And it’s been stuck at this paltry amount of total charitable giving for more than a decade, during which time the urgency of environmental issues has only increased. Impacts are felt across the globe—from melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland, to vanishing birds in North America, to fires blazing through ecosystems in Australia and the Amazon. 

The climate crisis affects everyone, but some individuals and communities are especially vulnerable. Low-income areas and communities of color are likely to suffer the worst consequences of climate change and environmental injustice, such as the loss of homes due to rising sea levels, exposure to toxins from coal-fired power plants, and breathing toxic ash from mountain-top removal. These communities will be some of the hardest hit, even though they emit less greenhouse gases than wealthier and less diverse communities. And it’s often not just the consequences that affect these communities. They are also much more likely to live around the sources of pollution responsible for warming, like residents living near major roadways in Boston, Mass., families with refineries for neighbors in North Richmond, Calif. and a community surrounded by industrial facilities in Louisville, Ky. These are just a few of the examples among far too many.

At 1% for the Planet, our goal is to grow environmental philanthropy in order to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Our network consists of more than 4,000 members — businesses and individuals who commit 1% of their revenue or income to support on-the-ground environmental organizations. We advise our members on their giving and connect them with environmental organizations that are making a positive impact on our planet.

We have an ambitious target to increase the number of philanthropic partnerships between nonprofits that focus on environmental justice and 1% for the Planet members. To achieve this goal, we’re leveraging our platform and global network to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) on the front lines of environmental justice work, as well as educating our members on the importance of supporting communities most impacted by issues like the climate crisis, air pollution, and unsafe drinking water.               

Our 1% for the Planet Individual Member Giving Circle, is an important part of this effort. In this new program, we are bringing together 20 members in five one-hour virtual sessions to answer the question: “How do we make things more equitable for those who are most impacted by the threats to the planet?”

1% for the Planet is dedicating a team of professional staff to facilitate the Giving Circle and to keep the process running smoothly. Thanks to the incredible resources provided by Philanthropy Together, including Launchpad For You – a virtual, interactive leadership training program that is full of information about building and sustaining a successful giving circle – we are ready to do the work. Beyond deciding where to make their collective donation, members will expand their knowledge of environmental justice issues and learn about philanthropic best practices, which they can use in their personal giving. Participants will learn about Trust-Based Philanthropy to gain a greater understanding of the inherent power imbalance between traditional funders and nonprofits, which will help the group approach their collective giving from a place of trust, humility, and transparency. 

Our inaugural 1% for the Planet Individual Member Giving Circle kicked off on March 18 and runs until May 13, 2021. We’ll collect feedback from members and use our initial learnings to continue this work of collective giving, with a goal to grow the size and number of Giving Circles offered. We’re excited about the steps ahead as we embark on deeper conversations and learning, and support nonprofits making a profound impact at the intersection of protecting and preserving the environment and bringing justice to those most impacted.

If you’re interested to learn more about 1% for the Planet and our Individual Member Giving Circle, you can visit our website and read more about how you can be a part of growing the 1% for the Planet movement.