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EFN Rapid Response Fund

A funding mechanism to help environmental organisations respond quickly to crises or opportunities

EFN established a ‘Rapid Response Fund’ (RRF) in 2018 to support groups trying to seize unexpected opportunities or respond to unanticipated crises with a potentially significant environmental outcome.

Background 

Over the years, leaders in the environment sector have told EFN that having rapid access to funds would strengthen environmental work in the UK. Quick access to funds would help organisations respond swiftly to unexpected crises and opportunities in ways they have often been unable to do due to a lack of readily available resources.

EFN was established to coordinate and connect, and is not constitutionally set up to provide funding itself. As such, we worked with funders in our network to establish a mechanism enabling them to provide urgent giving directly to applicants, following a process of independent review.

Since the launch of the RRF, we have received over 170 applications and over £1,175,944 has been awarded in total. In 2023, RRF awarded £264,635 to 22 organisations.

Funding examples

These funds have supported a hugely diverse array of initiatives in the UK and abroad, including:

  • Helping the Amazonian Kayapó tribe to organise its largest gathering since 1989, involving leaders from their own as well as a large number of other tribes, to co-develop their strategy to defend their territory against Bolsonaro and his policies.
  • The Climate Coalition organising the first ever virtual mass lobby of UK Parliament, on the importance of a green recovery from COVID-19, during which over 12,000 people signed up to talk to 300 MPs.
  • The #StateofNature campaign led by Wildlife and Countryside Link, which contributed to the UK government’s commitment to a binding nature recovery target.
  • Fern to protect forests through mandatory paper reductions in the EU Packaging Directive
  • Hope for the Future to partner with Channel 4  and mobilise viewers following a three-part series to holding MPs accountable for Climate Change Committee recommendations

How it works

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a small advisory group of funders. Those that meet the criteria are shared with all participating funders who can choose to make donations of any size towards the total amount requested. We aim for the process from application to close to happen within a six-week period.

Organisations that receive funding through the RRF are asked to submit a short report to EFN after six months, detailing how they spent the funding, what they achieved, any learnings, and what will happen next. We then pass these reports to the funders, avoiding the need for applications to report separately to each.

Information for interested funders

We’d love to have more funders participate in the RRF to ensure that as many applications as possible have a shot at raising the full amount needed. If you’re interested in joining the email list so you can take a look at the applications that come in, please let Aliyah know.

The fund works well for trusts whose trustees are happy to set aside a certain amount of money per year to be deployed with a fast decision-making process (ideally within two weeks), and is also ideal for individual donors/couples/families making their own decisions and therefore able to disburse funds quickly.

What Rapid Reponse Fund participants told us:

“We have found the Rapid Reponse Fund to be a great way to contribute in a collaborative, responsive way to unexpected opportunities that arise to achieve environmental impact.”

“As a new funder to the climate sector, we’ve found funding through the Rapid Reponse Fund an effective way to learn about activity across the sector. The guidelines for proposals mean we know that the work is impactful, relevant and the funding need is urgent. The philanthropic world is often criticised for being slow and bureaucratic — the RRF shows that sometimes we can be the opposite.”

Information for applicants

We welcome applications for work to seize an unexpected opportunity or to react to an unexpected, external crisis, enabling a significant environmental win or avoiding a significant loss, such as political changes, pandemics, sudden natural or man-made disasters.

We do not accept applications that are intended to address internal crises specific to your organisation, such as cash-flow or emergency match funding.

Any individual or group with a charitable purpose may apply as long as they are based in the UK – your work can take place anywhere in the world. Applications can be made at any time and the maximum request is £25k. Please review the application guidelines carefully before proceeding with an application.

Application guidelines

Apply here