Charities and philanthropy: getting serious about green giving
It’s World Earth Day this week (22nd April) and we are all, increasingly, aware of the need for urgent action on climate change. Charities and funders recognise they need to be part of the solution and the prevalence and range of green giving is growing.
The Veolia Environmental Trust, established in 1997, has given over £68m in grants. Funders are creating specific funding pots, from Greggs Foundation Small Environment Grant to the Big Give Green Match Fund. When the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which currently has a Green Recovery Challenge Fund, set its new objectives it included a requirement that projects seek to build long-term environment sustainability, expecting “projects to take the opportunity to create positive benefits for nature”. The John Ellerman Foundation recently appointed a Trustee with a specialist interest in environmental issues.
For charities working in conservation/the environment, there is an opportunity to secure funding through demonstrating real leadership and significant impact. However, in today’s funding landscape, all organisations need to address and be able to articulate their own impact on the environment.
What does this mean for fundraisers? Engage with and encourage your whole organisation to:
- Consider and reduce your organisation’s environmental impact. Look at use of water, energy and plastics; consider how staff, volunteer and service users travel and how you can support greener transport (e.g. cycle racks or home/hybrid working); review your recycling and waste management – could you go paper-free?
- Recognise any positive impact your core work/vision has – perhaps your organisation provides access to green spaces, or your youth club or church activities raise awareness about the environment.
- Identify opportunities to increase your impact and to support change. Could your build a community garden, create a pond or plant trees to enhance biodiversity? Does a new project offer the possibility to introduce more energy efficient heating/lighting systems? Can you reduce/eliminate single use plastics? Can you source local products in your café or shop to reduce food miles? Set SMART objectives to track change.
- Recognise the potential benefits and risks of not doing this. Prepare to convince your organisation by identifying any specific funding opportunities and showing examples where you’re required to have this information for applications.
- Lay the foundations to attract green giving, including from a new generation of donors. Millennials are an important and passionate group of donors who want action on large societal issues, including the environment. Interestingly, a Deloitte survey suggests the pandemic has reinforced their desire to drive positive change. They will become increasingly important in the coming years so ensure your organisation can show what you are doing and how green giving can make a difference.
For churches there are Eco Church awards to consider Bronze, silver and gold awards are presented to churches for environmental attainment across a wide range of areas, including care of buildings and churchyards, energy-saving, recycling, food and lifestyle, worship, preaching and teaching, engagement in communities and the wider world. You can find out more here.
Funders won’t expect you to do it all but will want to see you’ve considered what is possible for your organisation.