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Expanding Environmental Philanthropy

By Florence Miller, EFN, 18th March 2016

Earlier this week, in collaboration with and kindly hosted by Synchronicity Earth, EFN held the first of what we hope will be a series of salons focused on increasing support to environmental causes. Launching the series was Dr. Lisbet Rausing, who spoke eloquently about her motivation for giving, describing the challenges we face in feeding an ever-growing global population while protecting the biodiversity and natural systems we depend on. Despite the enormity of that task, her message was hopeful: she spoke of the many organisations she has supported through the Arcadia Fund that are accomplishing conservation goals through programmes driven by evidence. Her short ‘sermon’, as she put it, sparked an energetic discussion amongst the 30 people assembled spanning from access to contraceptives to supporting advocacy to the benefits EU directives have had on wildlife and habitat preservation.

The evening was an experiment in bringing together the right people to precipitate a shift in funding for environmental causes. At the moment those issues receive less than four per cent of total philanthropic giving in the UK, but they underpin almost every cause you might care about. Whether you look at climate change-induced drought affecting the war in Syria and the refugee crisis in Europe, flooding in Cumbria destroying homes and livelihoods, forced migrant labour working on unsustainable farms or air pollution cutting lives short in London, environmental and social ills are tightly bound up together. Yet somehow we have allowed the environment to become placed in a silo – a group of issues that are of interest to a select few, despite their relevance to all. As a result, the solutions we badly need aren’t receiving anywhere near the amounts of funding required to help them succeed, not to mention the brainpower.

This new strand of our work will focus on networking both individual donors with the capacity to give at scale and trustees of established foundations and trusts. We aim to create forums that will inspire people to give while providing opportunities for participants to learn from and challenge each other, share skills and ideas for addressing big problems in more effective ways and exchange intelligence on the best work to support with their funds.

This is new territory for EFN, and we welcome your ideas and suggestions for how to go about it. Please leave your comments below or contact us at

Florence Miller is EFN’s Director.

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