Philanthropic efforts to address climate change falling short, even according to foundation leaders


Alliance magazine


Philanthropic foundation’s efforts to address climate change are relatively limited, and non-climate funders see the issue as outside the scope of their mission in many cases, research from the Center for Effective Philanthropy has found. This is despite the overwhelming belief by foundation leaders that climate change is an urgent problem.

‘Much Alarm, Less Action: Foundations and Climate Change’ surveyed CEOs of US-based foundations and leaders of US-based nonprofits over the first quarter of 2020 to understand how these organisations approached climate in their work.

According to the research, while 60 per cent of leaders of both foundations and nonprofits believe that climate change is an extremely urgent problem, only 10 per cent of nonprofit and foundation leaders say that climate change is the most important problem to address right now. And efforts to address climate change tend to be a relatively small proportion of total giving from US foundations that fund efforts to address climate change.

CEP’s report also found that, among climate funders, only 11 per cent of leaders rated their own foundation’s strategy for addressing climate change as very effective – and even fewer (four per cent) said that efforts by philanthropic foundations to address climate change are ‘very effective’.

‘Much Alarm, Less Action’ was produced with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It is available to read or download on

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