“Most comprehensive report ever” on environmental philanthropy across Europe
Belgium (Brussels Morning newspaper), Despite the recession, philanthropic support for environmental causes is increasing, says a new report. This is one of the key messages to emerge from the 6th edition of an annual assessment.
It was feared that the worldwide recession and energy crisis would impact the ability of philanthropic organizations – and individuals – to give to causes such as the environment as in the past.
But it appears the cost of living crisis has not had as severe an impact as was feared.
Called “Environmental Funding by European Foundations” the study is claimed to be the most comprehensive report that has ever been published on environmental philanthropy across Europe.
The author Jon Cracknell told Brussels Morning that the new report shows a rapid growth in philanthropic support for environmental initiatives, with €1.6 billion of grants from 126 European foundations.
Cracknell added, “The environmental philanthropy sector is dynamic and growing. Given that we have climate and biodiversity emergencies on our hands the challenge now is to get more grants to initiatives that directly disrupt the status quo.”
Key findings include:
- The 126 foundations studied made 8,518 environmental grants in 2021, worth a combined €1.6 billion. This is more than double the value of the grants analyzed in the previous edition of this research.
- While €1.6 billion is a significant amount of money, it remains a tiny share of the total European Foundation giving.
- The thematic issue category receiving the most funding from the 126 foundations was climate & atmosphere.
- Philanthropic funding remains very limited for work tackling over-consumption and for more unpopular behavior changes including dietary transitions and curbs on flying. Meanwhile funding for “new economy” initiatives including those questioning economic growth is estimated to be just €11.4 million, or 0.7% of the total value of the grants in the dataset.
The study says 148 countries benefitted from at least one grant. A total of 6,734 grants, worth €592.1 million, were directed towards projects in Europe (36.8% of the total).
It also says that environmental giving still is a “tiny share” of the total European foundation giving equal to 5%.
The report covers topics ranging from the thematic focus of environmental grantmaking to geographical distribution to approaches taken by environmental funders. It concludes with issues for foundations to consider as the world reckons with the current environmental and climate crisis.
It says, “The long-term goal remains that set out in earlier editions: to establish as detailed a picture as possible of the state of European foundation funding for environmental issues with a view to raising the profile of environmental funders, building an understanding of the sector.
“Since the last edition of this research was published the environmental philanthropy sector has been undergoing significant growth, with worldwide foundation funding for climate change mitigation increasing by 40% between 2020 and 2021 alone.
“While it is important to celebrate the expansion, dynamism, and increasing sophistication of the sector, we wonder whether foundations are really making enough use of their capacity to take risks and to fund work that couldn’t be supported in any other way. Philanthropic capital has particular qualities relative to other forms of income for civil society.”
The report adds, “We have a climate and biodiversity emergency on our hands, and tackling it will require profound changes to the status quo.”
The report is an initiative of Philea’s European Environmental Funders Group, which acts as a hub for connections for funders and funders’ associations active or interested in the fields of environment and sustainable development.