Collaborating in response to climate change

August 12, 2022


minute read
Joanna Pienkowska
Senior policy and engagement officer, ACF

On 9th August, we brought together a group of funders to share emerging environmental collaboration opportunities and develop their ideas together.

The idea for this session came out of ACF’s recent Funder Commitment on Climate Change progress report, looking at how the growing number of signatories to this commitment are delivering against each of its six pillars.

The report's findings revealed a desire from many signatories to achieve more in their efforts to address climate change by working together with other funders. This could be through sharing learning, collective thinking on a particular issue, or joint funding.

The session showcased some of the emerging climate collaboration opportunities that funders can get involved in via the Funders Collaborative Hub. As Jim Cooke, head of the Funders Collaborative Hub, highlighted when opening the event, 'Environment' is one of the most common issues that funders are seeking to collaborate on by using the Hub.

Jim emphasised the value of looking at an issue as big as the climate crisis from multiple perspectives, applying different expertise, ideas and approaches and considering its different intersections. If enough of us align around something bigger than any one of our organisations could achieve alone, this multiplies the possibilities of the impact we can collectively make.

Co-op Foundation's Carbon Innovation Fund

The first collaboration opportunity was introduced by Aruna Bahia, Funding and Partnerships Manager at Co-op Foundation. The foundation's Carbon Innovation Fund supports organisations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the food and farming sector. The fund supported 15 different organisations in its first round, and is now looking to collaborate with other funders in developing its second round of funding.

LGBTQI Climate Fund

Lee Dibben, Special Focus Funds Consultant at GiveOut, introduced the LGBTQI Climate Fund. GiveOut’s climate work comes from a climate justice and just transition angle, recognising that people who are marginalised are most impacted by the effects of the climate crisis and least listened to in developing solutions and responses. The Fund supports LGBTQI groups working on climate issues in education, research, and advocacy. GiveOut are welcoming funding partners who want to co-fund or simply looking to integrate a climate justice focus into their own work.

Watch Lee's full presentation below.

Environmental Philanthropy Lab

The final emerging collaboration opportunity, shared by Hannah Temple from TealCo, was the Environmental Philanthropy Lab. TealCo are partnering with the Environmental Funders Network (EFN) to develop and deliver this collaboration, supporting philanthropy to fulfil its potential to support radical systemic change. Each iteration of the Lab focuses on a different audacious goal, co-developed with EFN members. This first iteration, starting at the end of the year, will support the development of economies in service to life.

Watch Hannah's full presentation below.

We would encourage all funders to think about the relevance of the climate crisis to your mission and activities.

Joanna Pienkowska
Senior policy and engagement officer, ACF

As well as connecting more funders with these emerging opportunities, one of the event's main aims was to encourage and enable funders to develop and share their own ideas for potential collaboration.

Common themes emerged from the group around organisational learning and connecting climate to a foundation’s charitable mission. Participants discussed integrating a climate lens into their existing areas of work. One participant specifically talked about supporting artistic projects that increase awareness and engagement with the climate crisis. There were also several questions with a specific climate justice and equity focus.

Other funders are thinking through how best to support grantees to consider sustainability and build their capacity in this area, particularly with the cost of living crisis and other competing pressures. One funder talked about a shortage of skilled eco-auditors and suggested that funders might support more training in this field. There was some collective thinking through how to ask grant applicants about their environmental sustainability and what makes a good environmental policy. One idea suggested was adding extra funds to a grant to take away barriers to costly sustainability work identified by grantees in the application. There was a focus on capacity building, including carbon literacy and eco-audits, and an emphasis on understanding what each grantee's starting point is in relation to environmental impact.

A group Jamboard activity revealed some of the aims, questions and challenges that those in attendance wanted to explore collaboratively.

Screenshot of a Jamboard titled 'What aims, questions and challenges do you  want to explore collaboratively' with lots of sticky notes capturing the group's discussions t
Our Jamboard captured the many ideas shared by the group

How can you make progress in your own climate work?

We would encourage all funders to think about the relevance of the climate crisis to your mission and activities. Whether you are already making progress on this, or just thinking about starting to explore it, here are three things you can do:

  1. Explore the environmental collaboration opportunities already shared on the Funders Collaborative Hub. Connect with any that are particularly relevant to your own work or simply access the learning and resources that others have shared.
  2. Develop your own funder collaboration idea. If you are starting to consider any aspect of climate work that you'd like to explore collaboratively with other funders, use this form to tell us about it - or email us to arrange an initial chat about how we can help you get started.
  3. If your organisation hasn't already done so, consider signing the Funder Commitment on Climate Change. Not only can this help you to think through the climate implications of your own work, it will connect you to a growing peer group of other signatories who are able to share their experiences, challenges and learning.

Inspired to collaborate?

Explore all collaboration opportunities on the Funders Collaborative Hub

Explore the Hub