A 2020 vision of environmental philanthropy
Nick Perks, of Environmental Funders Network, offers a vision of a world where the green message has finally hit home, digital technology has taken hold and restricted funding is under siege...
The year is 2020. The Environmental Funders Network latest interactive tool, Where the Green Grants Went 5.0 has just been launched at a glittering gathering of trusts and philanthropists at the UK’s leading negative-carbon conference centre. Of course, many overseas participants are present only as avatars, but the local folk like to turn up for the ‘non-virtuals’ (a.k.a. food and drink).
The new universal standardised grant database, developed jointly by @ACF and @CharityCommission, has made much of the old EFN research redundant. Now any budding philanthropist can run their own analysis to find out the percentage of grants that go to environmental causes, or which NGOs have received the largest share of funds. To think that we used to input all of that data manually, and that some trusts did not even publish a grants list! Still, the WTGGW 5.0 app has its uses – sharing all grant assessment and monitoring reports saves so much duplication.
The report back from the ‘state of the movement’ working group is a particular highlight. It’s fantastic to hear the progress that has been made in the five years since the global climate change treaty was signed in 2015. At a UK level, EFN members can take some credit for having chivvied Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the National Trust and CPRE into agreeing the Clean Consensus in 2013, which finally broke the impasse on renewable energy infrastructure investment, and now means that in 2020 the UK has some of the cheapest power in Europe.
More controversial are the recommendations from the grantmaking effectiveness group, particularly the idea that the network should make a stronger statement against all restricted funding and the suggestion that the guideline MVG (‘minimum viable grant’) level be raised to £25,000. Although years of research have confirmed the merit of longer-term core costs grants, there is still resistance from many trusts. However, the staff exchange programme between funders and NGOs, is proving a great success.
Finally, it’s fascinating to compare the presentations from our guest speakers from Nigeria and Indonesia – two of the fastest growing philanthropic environments, if not quite yet the size of the ‘big four’: the US, China, India and Brazil. The successes and failures of international philanthropy in addressing the impacts of the oil industry in Nigeria, and deforestation in Indonesia, have had profound effects on the development paths of those countries. It’s also a particular delight to see the first Nigerian Green Grants report.
The real Where the Green Grants Went 5, was published in January 2012.