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New Research Highlights a Disconnect Between Views and Actions of Foundation Leaders on Climate Change

Date: July 12, 2022

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Media contact: Sarah Martin, Manager, Programming and External Relations |

Cambridge, MA — Foundation leaders overwhelmingly see climate change as an urgent problem and believe that foundations could be doing more to address the issue, alongside the public and private sectors. However, despite these leaders’ alarm, foundation efforts to address climate change are relatively limited, and non-climate funders tend to see the issue as outside the scope of their mission.

Given the urgency of climate change, with climate science pointing to significant impacts and a narrowing window of opportunity for action, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) today releases a report examining how leaders in the philanthropic sector, both at foundations and nonprofit organizations, perceive the issue and how it will affect their work.

For this study, which was conducted with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, CEP surveyed CEOs of U.S.-based foundations and leaders of U.S.-based nonprofits between January and March of 2022, including both climate-focused funders and organizations and non-climate-focused funders and organizations.

Results of the research reveal that while 60 percent of both foundation and nonprofit leaders believe that climate change is an extremely urgent problem, few nonprofit and foundation leaders — about 10 percent — said that climate change is the most important problem to address right now. Indeed, efforts to address climate change tend to be a relatively small proportion of total giving from U.S. foundations that fund efforts addressing climate change.

What’s more, among climate funders, only 11 percent of leaders rated their own foundation’s strategy for addressing climate change as very effective, and even fewer — just 4 percent — said that efforts by philanthropic foundations, broadly, to address climate change are very effective.

The research reveals that leaders of climate-focused nonprofits and foundations see opportunity for philanthropy to engage more deeply with the issue of climate change and urge funders to consider how climate change affects their mission.

The report contains a list of resources for funders as well as snapshots of both climate foundation leaders’ reported approaches to addressing climate change and nonprofit leaders’ approaches to addressing the issue.

The report is available for free download here.

About the Center for Effective Philanthropy

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide data, feedback, programs, and insights to help individual and institutional donors improve their effectiveness. We do this work because we believe effective donors, working collaboratively and thoughtfully, can profoundly contribute to creating a better and more just world. For more information on CEP’s work, including its research, assessments, advisory services, and programming, visit

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