Getting from “no” to “yes” for climate justice
A philanthropy insider once shared during a presentation that foundations develop guidelines so they know to whom to say “no.” Though it sounded cynical and harsh, it also rang true. My years in the field have only served to reinforce the assertion, as I have witnessed the growing trend of foundations undergoing a strategic planning process, then narrowing their guidelines, followed by shifting to an “invitation only” process so they can handpick grantee partners that align with ever-narrowing portfolio priorities, all in hopes of being able to quantify their foundation’s impact. Meanwhile, the planet burns and many already vulnerable communities are displaced. There is much hand-wringing, but little in the way of actual financial support because most foundations do not see themselves as climate or justice funders.
I am reminded of that tendency now as we release Candid and Ariadne’s new funder’s guide about the why and how of climate justice, Centering equity and justice in climate philanthropy. Despite its urgency, most foundation funders do not incorporate climate or climate justice strategies into their work, largely relegating it to a few environmental funders. As a result, not enough funding is flowing to climate change efforts and even less of it for reducing harm to communities most impacted by the climate crisis.