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Grassroots Intermediaries Shift Philanthropy Towards Climate Justice

Grassroots International is honored to be profiled in a new report on climate philanthropy by Ariadne and Candid.

The climate funding landscape sure looks different today than it did a decade, or even a few years, ago. There’s no longer a question of whether to fund climate-related work, but of what to fund and how. Thankfully, two progressive philanthropy powerhouses, Ariadne and Candid, have teamed up to guide funders through a maze of possibilities, with a lens squarely focused on questions of justice and equity.

Their new report Centering Equity and Justice in Climate Philanthropy notes the unprecedented amount of funding now being directed toward climate-related work, even if available funds continue to lag behind the enormity of the challenges at hand. At the same time, the report rightly highlights “concerns that justice-oriented efforts will continue to be disproportionately underfunded relative to overall climate funding.”

The report thus calls upon funders to leave their comfort zones and to take a deep look inward – at everything from their funding patterns to their hiring practices to their investment portfolios – in order to develop practices that are “restorative, reparative, and regenerative.” And it gives readers concrete tools to do so, through an impressive array of concrete tips and resources.

Grassroots International applauds the report’s strong focus on justice and equity and its acknowledgement of the essential work of social movements in advancing solutions coming directly from those on the front lines of the climate crisis. 

The report also highlights the role of intermediary organizations in addressing one of the weakest links in climate justice philanthropy today – the paltry resources making it to the frontline movements in the Global South. Grassroots International is profiled as an example on pp. 51-53.

The report ends with a set of strong recommendations for funders, summed up as follows: 

  1. Secure an institutional commitment to climate justice. 
  2. Direct more resources to the Global South and to frontline communities in the Global North. 
  3. Invest in efforts to connect local movements with national and global ones. 
  4. Engage in peer organizing and collective funder action. 
  5. Do not reinvent the wheel; invest in, support, and learn from intermediaries. 
  6. Engage in ongoing learning and political education. 
  7. Embrace risk. 
  8. Invest in movement building. 
  9. Make long-term investments, with an emphasis on core support.
  10. Apply non-extractive, regenerative ways of defining and understanding “impact.” 

These recommendations reflect key practices that Grassroots International is striving for. We look forward to working with our philanthropic colleagues to promote these sector-wide.