Philanthropy forward

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While philanthropy has long been pivotal in advancing climate action, there’s much more philanthropy can and should do to match its efforts with the magnitude and urgency of the crisis. Philanthropy can increase the likelihood of climate breakthroughs by providing more resources and flexibility for high-ambition, high-gain endeavors. Here are four key elements of our funding model designed not only to accelerate the pace of climate action but also to pursue a more equitable grantee-funder relationship.

we identify great talent

The greatest predictor of whether an idea will succeed or fail is who leads it. Based on a specific candidate profile and a rigorous selection process, we identify individuals with proven abilities and the highest potential for breakthroughs.

we fund robustly

Our $3 million Award along with additional capacity-building support places our awardees in a rare and critical abundance—rather than scarcity—mindset. Only 14 percent of funders offer wraparound support to more than half of their grantees.

we minimize constraints

Climate action is dynamic; therefore, we provide ample flexibility to our awardees to manage their work and funding. Our grant is 100 percent flexible—research indicates the proportion of flexible grants has historically been fixed only at around 20 percent.

we embrace shortfalls

Our approach is simple: “is this idea possible?” rather than “are we confident it will succeed?” We know some of what we fund will fail or fall short. Consistent progress might look good in a grant report, but it is a sign we are not dreaming big enough.

impact and learning

At Climate Breakthrough, Impact and Learning (I&L) is the heartbeat of progress. What sets us apart is how closely we engage and work with our awardees in defining their progress and tailoring support tools to match their ambitious endeavors.

(Climate Breakthrough) offers a framework of how institutional philanthropic operations can be comfortable making bigger commitments to the bold ideas of brilliant individuals.



“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 News Digest.


“Consistent success might look good in a grant report, but it’s a sure sign that we are not dreaming big enough,” argues Climate Breakthrough Executive Director Savanna Ferguson in Alliance magazine. She breaks down our focus on leadership and flexible grantmaking to balance trust, risk, and learning.

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