Creating Equitable Grantmaking Relationships

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APRIL 8, 2022

“Regardless of the structure of our grants, funders should strive to create equitable, empowering relationships with grantees. It’s the right thing to do,” writes Climate Breakthrough Executive Director Savanna Ferguson in philanthropy outlet Philanthropy News Digest. In this commentary, Savanna shares how Climate Breakthrough is creating them.

Below are excerpts from the commentary.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest assessment report, released in late February, is sobering; more and more people—3.5 billion, according to the report—are extremely vulnerable to the growing dangers of the warming climate. Temperatures are soaring, disasters are becoming ever more severe and regular, biodiversity and ecosystem services are deteriorating, and the heaviest burden is falling mainly on those least able to cope with those impacts.

While it presented yet another piece of bleak climate news, the report also noted that we can avert the worst of the climate crisis if both the public and private sectors act fast and act big to launch climate solutions that catalyze fast-paced, large-scale drops in greenhouse gas emissions.

How do we funders seize this opportunity and fulfill our potential to help address the climate crisis? More money helps, but it won’t be enough. We need to fund strategies with the potential to create transformative change. We need innovation. To fund innovation we must be bold; we must take more risks.

savanna ferguson

Philanthropy has a critical role to play in helping to bring about such climate breakthroughs. A survey conducted last year by Alliance magazine found that 78 percent of nearly 300 respondents across 57 countries thought climate change would be the dominant issue in philanthropy in the next 25 years. This presents an immense opportunity for philanthropists to fill a stark funding gap, for currently less than 2 percent of global giving goes to climate change mitigation, according to a report from ClimateWorks Foundation.

Today we are living through a constellation of compounding crises. The global challenges we are facing, climate change arguably the greatest calamity among them, have only intensified in scale and severity, and our funding response must be commensurate with the size, urgency, and complexity of the problems.

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