While environmental exposures can be critical, they are often not the only factors in determining health outcomes either at the individual or at the population level. And the role that poverty and stress play in health status can’t be overstated.

What does this mean for us as funders at the intersection of environment and health? On the environment side, climate change now dominates much of the moral- or value-based philanthropy; on the health side, disease prevention is proving to be a tough sell for donors drawn to the promise of cures and more effective treatments for dreaded illnesses. So, what can our hardy band of HEFN members, who are supporting very talented, dedicated but seriously under-resourced NGOs, do to grow and strengthen our often-overlooked field?

We are coming off of an eight-year fight to reform TSCA, the nation’s foremost chemicals policy. While the outcome is not everything we hoped for, the win is nevertheless the single biggest victory the environmental community has achieved at the congressional level in decades. A recent M+R evaluation of the campaign commissioned by several HEFN members attributes the win to these hallmarks of successful advocacy:

  • A unified goal with potential for high impact.
  • Collaboration among diverse stakeholders.
  • Affected groups as the public facing coalition representatives.
  • Grassroots organizing capacity (optimal when a political lens is applied).
  • Effective communications.
  • Going forward, we should look for these same elements when making funding decisions. And it would be even better if as funders we could consolidate resources around a small number of campaigns of similar caliber and potential.

Read the full article about successful environmental advocacy by Ruth Hennig at Health & Environmental Funders Network.