Leveraging the power of governments
One of the most effective ways for philanthropists to fight against climate change is by funding political advocacy. It is also an ideal mechanism to leverage the power of governments. If a lobbying campaign engages policymakers around a specific policy proposal and that proposal becomes accepted, the scaling effects can be huge. As Giving Green, a US-based effective giving consultancy, states in one of the case studies: “A dollar spent on political advocacy has ten times more impact than a dollar spent on direct support”.
What is more, the fossil industry’s attempts to halt climate action need to be counterbalanced by advocacy efforts for a just transition to low-carbon and resilient societies. COP27 serves as a stark reminder of this.
More than lobbying
Philanthropic organisations are often hesitant to fund lobbying due to concerns about appearing partisan and compromising their political neutrality, which is often considered to be one of their key assets.
However, political advocacy goes beyond direct lobbying. Our case study of the International Center for Future Generations (ICFG) highlights that political advocacy also comprises the translation of new research and raising evidence to the level of policy. This is particularly important in the context of climate change, where new technologies that promise to reduce carbon emissions often lack political support. Political advocacy can help bridge this gap by developing evidence of the impact of innovative climate solutions and recommending ways in which policymakers can support their implementation, ultimately enabling policies that make attainable technologies practically viable.
Elevating marginalised voices
Unfortunately, philanthropic efforts to fund political advocacy have often failed to prioritise the inclusion of disadvantaged people such as youth, workers, farmers, and vulnerable populations who are most affected by climate policies. In the case study compiled by Active Philanthropy, the Laudes Foundation stresses that the voices of marginalised groups must be included in efforts to shape policy. To address this, philanthropies can support these groups to gain a seat at the negotiating table and participate in climate advocacy efforts.
For example, the ICFG supports the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition of countries most vulnerable to climate change, to pilot the capacity development of young people to act as delegates in climate negotiations.
Partnerships for Climate Action
Philanthropic organisations and governments have the potential to engage in a catalytic dynamic: Philanthropic funding of political advocacy can stimulate political will for bold climate action, while governments ensure that the implementation is scaled up across society. Both have a crucial role to play in the transition to a more sustainable future. This two-lane road of political advocacy and government action is essential to achieve the necessary changes to tackle climate change.
Interested in reading more?
While political advocacy is a powerful tool for philanthropists to fight climate change, there are several other approaches that can be leveraged to empower civil society, influence governments, or drive innovation. Our Spotlight on Climate Funding Strategies provides a comprehensive overview of ten such strategies, offering insights and inspiration for those looking to engage in climate philanthropy.
If you’re interested in reading more about the diverse approaches to funding climate action, be sure to explore our website and access the full range of case studies and funding strategies available.