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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Change Management at Governance Level

Donations to Environmental Nonprofits Provide the Seeds for Broad Community Security

Research, information and pressure give more bang for your charitable dollar with environmental agencies

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Environmental Charities Influence Governments and Businesses

The next 50 years will be critical in deciding the fate of our planet. Now is the time to give environmental charities your support. By influencing governments and businesses - which ultimately have most power to stem environmental damage - charities are bringing about big changes in the way we treat our planet.

Green Philanthropy

Green Philanthropy, a recent report by New Philanthropy Capital, showed some charities using this approach to produce remarkable results.

Information for Better Solutions

On one level, all that is needed from charities is information.

Many governments and corporations are looking for ways to turn themselves a more flattering shade of green in the public eye. But without sound research, they risk opting for "solutions" that do more harm than good.

Putting pressure on Governments and Corporations

In the case of biofuels, providing information was enough; the involved parties were already keen to be green.

Apply Pressure to Less Enthusiastic Institutions

But charities can also influence less enthusiastic institutions by applying more pressure. Global Witness (GW), for example, pushes governments to close their borders to the illegal log trade.

It does this by gathering detailed, first-hand evidence of illegal logging, writing meticulous reports naming and shaming those involved, and lobbying policy-makers for long-term solutions.

Influencing Big Business

With dedication and innovation, relatively small charities can influence massive corporations, or even whole markets.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), for example, is trying to tackle plummeting fish numbers by influencing the global fish market. It has devised a certification scheme for sustainably run fisheries, and is creating a market for sustainably caught fish by persuading retailers to stock them.

Fisherman using a hand-line to catch mackerel (Image: MSC) MSC certification is helping to make fisheries more sustainable In 2006, MSC convinced Walmart, the world's largest retailer, to stock only wild-caught fish that it has certified as sustainable.

There is evidence that, now large retailers are on board, some unsustainable fisheries are cleaning up their acts in order to meet MSC standards.

A solution to overfishing, such as the one MSC is devising, is desperately needed. If things continue as they are, collapsing fish stocks will deprive up to a billion people of their primary source of protein within 50 years.

Working Together: Governments, Businesses, Environmental Charities

By working with governments and businesses, environmental charities can punch above their weight. Relatively small organisations can make an impact on environmental problems on a national or even global scale.

But the work of these charities is only just beginning, and funding is woefully inadequate.

Less than 2% of UK charitable grants are directed to environmental causes, and less than 5% of private donations in the UK go to environment charities.


The U.S. Giving Record

Information about US giving is similar to U.K. environmental giving. And the need for quality research about issues is also reflected by our local structure.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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