The Hewlett Foundation believes that the climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our lifetime and impacts everything we do — it’s why we have dedicated over $1 billion to driving climate solutions and why we’ve been huge advocates to get more money into climate philanthropy. As our president, Larry Kramer, said: philanthropy must stop fiddling while the world burns.
So why, then, does climate philanthropy still receive only 2 percent of philanthropic funding? Our Effective Philanthropy Group, which focuses on strengthening the philanthropy sector, set out to learn more by supporting CEP’s latest report, Much Alarm, Less Action: Foundations and Climate Change, on foundation and nonprofit perspectives on the topic.
Climate change is already negatively affecting people and communities. It is not something happening over there; climate change is happening here and everywhere and it intersects with so many of our efforts as funders collectively to support the well-being of people and the planet. As one foundation leader said, “We see climate change influencing all our portfolios because climate change will impact marginalized people first, more deeply, and over a longer timeframe than the rest of society.” Another leader said, “From small to big things, climate change is an existential threat to all of our missions.” These acknowledgments speak to the reality that foundations know that climate change isn’t something in the distant future and recognize that the climate crisis isn’t just impacting environmental issues.
Despite this recognition, it seems that many funders are leaving climate change for someone else to solve. Almost 80 percent of leaders at non-climate foundations have said that they don’t fund climate because it’s not a part of their mission. And 80 percent of community foundations — many of which are closest to climate impact — reported that when donors seek guidance, the foundation does not explicitly prioritize encouraging donors to fund climate efforts.
If more funders don’t take additional action, we not only risk not making progress, we risk losing ground on issues we and the communities we support care about. Climate change is overwhelming, under-resourced, and, yes, abstract at times — yet for these very reasons, funders have an opportunity to do more and to use more of our tools to address it. Bringing a climate lens to what and how we fund is critical for driving impact.
Read the full article about rising to meet the challenge of the climate crisis by Jehan Velji at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.