Giving for sustainable change in the Pacific Northwest


Strategic Philanthropy

Betsy Brill

Betsy Brill

‘Giving for Sustainable Change’, held on 1 and 2 April in Seattle, Washington, USA, was the second gathering of a new community of global donors – Pacific Northwest Global Donors. The conference was attended by over 180 donors, encompassing representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Affairs Council, the Channel Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, the Seattle International Foundation and the Washington Women’s Foundation, to name a few, plus family foundations, members of the giving circle Pangea, and individual donors.

The conference provided insights and education on many of today’s significant global issues including agriculture, climate justice, human rights and technology. The opening plenary, entitled ‘How Does Climate Change Affect Donor Strategies’, looked at the impact of global climate change on international development, including issues of human rights, public health, agriculture and food security. Speakers all expressed concern about the lack of real actionable outcomes at the Conference of Parties in Cancun last autumn. Howard Frumkin of the University of Washington discussed the glaring effects of climate change on health and emphasized the importance of communications and messaging given that global warming was ranked second from the bottom of their list of key priorities in a recent poll of American citizens.

The second day’s plenary, entitled ‘Food Solutions By and For the People of the Planet’, discussed how small-scale farming can feed and cool the planet. Panellists emphasized the need to fund scientifically endorsed and locally applicable farming methods, both to debunk the myth that industrial agriculture is the only way to feed the world and to support the global movement for local food systems. In his keynote address, Greg Carr of the Carr Foundation talked about his work in Mozambique where he signed a 20-year agreement with the government to restore and co-manage the country’s flagship national park, Gorongosa.

Other sessions explored best practices in international grantmaking, with topics such as
‘Market Place Creativity: Corporate-NGO Collaboration’, ‘All the World is a Platform: What’s New in the Technology for Development Toolbox?’ and ‘Finding New Models of Collaboration Between Donors and Grantees’.

Donors will have left the conference both with new grantmaking strategies and with a deeper understanding of how to support climate change – mitigation and adaptation – as well as efforts to increase food sovereignty. No doubt, the energy and enthusiasm at this second conference of Pacific Northwest Global Donors is an indication of the rapidly evolving and growing global donor community in the Pacific Northwest.

Betsy Brill is Founder and President of Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd. Email

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