Although the latest heatwaves stress the importance of addressing climate change issues, a recent report published by the non-profit research institute, Centre for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), reveals that philanthropic funding levels intended for climate change are low. According to the US-based non-profit organization, the ClimateWorks Foundation, only 2% of the global philanthropic funds offered by foundations and individuals address climate change mitigation.
In a report based on a survey of 188 foundations and 120 non-profits, CEP pointed out that although the leaders of these organizations viewed climate change as an urgent issue, they were aware that foundations and non-profits could do more including by coupling their efforts with those of the public and private sectors. A foundation leader quoted by the report noted:
“Within our health, human services, arts, and education portfolios, our focus has always been on vulnerable people in our state. 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.”
The survey revealed that 60% of leaders consider climate change to be a highly critical problem, and 29% and 22% of foundations and non-profit leaders believe that climate change is a very urgent problem. In contrast, only 3% of foundation leaders and 7% of non-profit leaders consider that climate change is not a critical issue.
Fig.1. Foundation and non-profit leader perspectives on the urgency of climate change
Limited Action, Ample Opportunity
Despite the high degree of awareness, the report reveals that efforts made by foundations to address climate-related problems have been limited, and their actions have been only partially effective. Interestingly, only 11% of foundation leaders believe their efforts towards combating climate change have been effective, and 17% think efforts have not been effective at all.
Fig.2.Climate funder perspectives on the effectiveness of foundation efforts to address climate change
Moreover, many leaders of the surveyed organizations consider climate-related problems to be outside of their mission while at the same time not ruling out the possibility of funding efforts towards climate change in the future. A foundation leader from the report, commenting on the climate change-related threats, said:
“The problems we seek to address are on the ground level of an extremely poor city. I believe climate change affects all of our lives, but more tangible problems like poverty and violence are more top of mind.”
Overall, 79% of leaders consider climate change issues to be outside of their mission.
Fig.3. Top 3 reasons foundations leaders say they do not fund efforts addressing climate change (N=66)