Last year, the Donors of Color Network challenged top climate funders to direct 30% of their grantmaking to Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led groups accountable to their communities. To date, funders have committed up to $100 million annually for climate justice groups. However, only 11 of the 40 funders asked to invest in climate justice have answered the call. At least 16 foundations are either “in conversation” about the pledge or have not responded and six top funders have publicly refused.
“I understand culture work takes time, but we really don’t have any more time. This is a crisis that we’re in, and we’ve had decades to work on this,” said Isabelle Leighton, acting executive director of the Donors of Color Network. Smaller funders outside the DCN’s top 40 have signed on, consistent with a trend of smaller funders taking bolder, justice-focused approaches.
“Big green” groups are overwhelmingly white, but while small, diverse, justice-oriented groups are taking on the same big polluters as legacy groups and securing significant wins, they are often shut out from funding. “You have organizations with one paid person being paid a third of what a big green legacy group staffer is being paid, working 18 hours a day and pulling together volunteers. No comms support, no development support,” said Mark Magaña, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos. “It’s just astonishing that we think, ‘this is the strategic way of doing things.’ It’s not. We’re not going to get to where we need to be in time.” (Inside Philanthropy $)