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The Climate Activist Speaker Fund

The Climate Activist Speaker Fund is a pilot programme that aims to test a new mechanism to support young climate activists to deliver their messages far and wide, funded by the philanthropic community, including those who might not otherwise be able to fund individuals. Ultimately it aims to magnify the impact activists and funders can have.

The fund has been conceptualised by and for youth activists as means to provide a simple and effective way to access unrestricted philanthropic funding, while also providing young activists with long-term benefits such as training, peer networks and greater audience reach.

The first cohort of 10 international youth activist participants have now been selected! You can read all about them here.

Why is the Climate Activist Speaker Fund needed?

We have heard from a growing number of funders that they recognise the critical role of young climate activists in the fight for climate justice, but they are prevented from supporting them due to requirements to distribute funding to registered organisations rather than unincorporated groups or individuals. Funders may also lack proximity to those groups mobilising on the frontlines.

Equally, many activists have expressed frustration that accessing funding that enables them to play their roles can be almost impossible. Most do not have the time or intimate know-how needed to complete the required proposals and follow-up reports, and many are calling out the power dynamics inherent across traditional philanthropic structures as problematic. Young activists report that unrestricted funds, with minimal administrative burden, are most useful to them, but these range from difficult to near impossible to find.

During a 2022 panel discussion led by a group of young climate activists, the question of funding arose – what were the panel members’ experiences of funding their activism? All of the panellists shared their struggle and discomfort around funding their work, but interestingly, almost all of them agreed that their preferred way of injecting funds into their work was by being paid for speaking appointments. 

“As people from the global south, sometimes we really underestimate how much our voices matter. Having someone say ‘we care about what you have to say and we will pay you to say it here’ – it’s really empowering.” Maria, activist from Mexico

What does the Climate Activist Speaker Fund involve?

This pilot will be an international programme delivered in collaboration with Climate 2025, Heard, the Environmental Funders Network (EFN), The Social Practice, and Global Strategic Communications Network (GSCC). The Fund (which runs until the end of December 2023) will create an initial pot of funding for a cohort of 10 international youth activists with a focus on those from MAPA communities, with three main aims:

  • Support to undergo training and upskilling in communicating their message
  • Compensation for speaking fees and any associated costs – driving more unrestricted funding their way – and increasing the number of bookings they receive to maximise future income opportunities and audience numbers receiving their message  (through advertising the fund to the networks of the organisations behind it, and beyond)

Support in dealing with responses to their public messaging and appropriate boundary setting, e.g. reactions from the public and the media, and creating a collaborative support network.

Intended impact:

  • increasing the visibility and reach of diverse climate activists from around the world, so their messages can be heard and received by more audiences 
  • providing a source of unrestricted funding for activists from MAPA communities that aligns with their values and is administratively light touch
  • removing some of the practical barriers that funders experience when trying to fund activism by creating a pooled fund hosted by a registered organisation with a charitable partner
  • training and upskilling activists in public speaking, landing messages, increasing presence and confidence, and overcoming imposter syndrome
  • increasing awareness about valuing activist labour and contributions to the movement 

“Training around speaking confidently is needed. It’s important for us to understand how to respond to different questions, pivot, and ensure our messages are getting across.”Edwin, activist from Uganda

If you would like to make a contribution to this fund, or have any questions, please contact Sophia Cooke, the Environment Sector Programme Lead at EFN and Sarah Bradley, Co-Director of the Access to Funding programme at Climate 2025.