A vibrant network
We are a vibrant network of more than 180 members around the country who co-fund projects to reverse global warming and protect the environment, and we are entirely funded through our membership.
The AEGN regularly surveys members to gain feedback both on the effectiveness of our work as well as the member experience and satisfaction. Every three years, the AEGN conducts a major member survey. As our network grows, it is important to continually assess and monitor members’ satisfaction with our service, our effectiveness as an organisation and the role we play within an evolving environmental philanthropy sector.
Pulse Check 2021 is such an analysis. Acknowledging the urgent need for climate action, we included in our survey for the first time a deep dive into member practices and the support needed to give more — and more effectively — to climate initiatives. This study along with Pulse Check 2019 and a benchmarking study in 2015 were conducted by independent consultant Regina Hill of Effective Philanthropy, commissioned by the AEGN.
Overall, the survey results indicate that the AEGN is continuing to make a strong and positive contribution to environmental and climate philanthropy in Australia, helping members to increase their giving and its impact.
We will use these results to inform the AEGN’s next strategic plan and to refine the work we do, and how we engage with members to support our collective work towards a future where people and nature thrive.
Keep up the good work!
It’s been exciting to see the growth in sophistication of how the AEGN operates … and a recognition from the AEGN that you have the ability to be a trusted leader to help climate change philanthropy move faster and create more change through the power of the network.
I look forward to seeing what we can all do together!
Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation, Pulse Check 2021
Summary of findings
Pulse Check 2021 is based on responses from 57 AEGN members who completed the member survey in 2021, reflecting their giving practices for the 2020/2021 financial year.
These respondents represent 32 per cent of the AEGN membership. Respondents comprise new and established members with differing levels of experience in grantmaking to environment and climate change issues. Collectively, they distributed $75 million to environmental issues in 2020/21, including $65 million to climate initiatives.
Most respondents (70 per cent) manage their funding through a structured vehicle, with the remainder relying on private donations or a mix of structured and donation-based approaches. They are predominantly based in Victoria and New South Wales, with seven based in Queensland and one each in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, reflecting the distribution of membership numbers across these states and territories.
One in four respondents gave all their funding to environmental issues including climate, with many allocating funding across a range of issue areas. One in ten gave all their funding to climate change initiatives. Climate has emerged as the most popular areas for funding among respondents, followed by Indigenous land and sea management, and biodiversity.
The findings indicate that the AEGN is continuing to make a strong and positive contribution to environmental and climate philanthropy, encouraging and supporting members to increase their giving. According to the report, most respondents see the AEGN as playing an important role in the environmental sector and as being an effective champion of environmental and climate change philanthropy.
Pleasingly, the survey also found that most respondents believe the AEGN has substantively helped them to learn more about environmental issues (83 per cent) and environmental grantmaking (79 per cent), and connect with environmental non-government organisations (73 per cent) and environmental grantmakers (90 per cent). Seventy-two per cent said the AEGN has helped them to identify environmental funding opportunities.
Summary of recommendations below
1. The AEGN has catalysed growth in environmental funding
- Over the last three years, 63 per cent of respondents overall have increased their funding to the environment and 60 per cent of climate funders have increased their giving to climate change initiatives. The proportion of members indicating they had increased their funding is consistent with the results of the 2018-member study.
- 94 per cent of respondents who had increased their environmental or climate funding indicated that the AEGN had contributed to their funding increase, with 58 per cent indicating that the AEGN had played a significant or very significant role in that change in environmental funding, and 62 per cent in climate funding.
2. The AEGN has had an impact on how members fund and confidence in funding
- 83 per cent of respondents indicated that the AEGN had substantively helped them to learn more about environmental issues.
- 79 per cent of respondents indicated that the AEGN had substantively helped them to learn more about environmental grantmaking.
- Almost all respondents said they had been able to access knowledgeable advice and support from the AEGN team; for 41 per cent, this was a significant or very significant aspect of their AEGN membership.
- 51 per cent of respondents said the AEGN had significantly or very significantly helped them be confident they could be effective environmental grantmakers.
3. The AEGN has an important role to play in supporting climate change funding
- In a new area of feedback for the survey, it was found that the climate crisis is a key motivator for funding. While 88 per cent of respondents rated their knowledge of climate change issues as strong, several funders indicated they do not have a strong understanding of the priorities for climate change funding and there is an appetite to learn more.
- Take-up of the AEGN’s climate change offering, developed over the previous 12 months, was strong, with 81 per cent of respondents familiar with the Climate Change Funding Framework and 63 per cent using the climate change funder group.
- Positively, AEGN climate change funders familiar with the AEGN climate change offering are acting as advocates for climate change funding and say it has influenced or informed their funding: 96 per cent have shared learnings from AEGN climate change events with others and 59 per cent have introduced others to the AEGN and climate change funder group. Thirty-three per cent of respondents have encouraged others to fund climate change.
4. Members value networking and funding opportunities provided via their membership
- 81 per cent indicated they felt strongly connected to the AEGN community.
- 89 per cent said their membership had substantively helped them to expand their network of environmental grantmakers.
- 73 per cent indicated the AEGN had substantively helped them to connect with environmental non-government organisations.
- 72 per cent said the AEGN had helped them to identify environmental funding opportunities (noting only one in five respondents said they wanted the AEGN to find more prospective projects for members to fund).
- 53 per cent said their membership provided an extremely useful or very useful role in helping them to get involved in collaborative funding opportunities.
5. Members are generally very happy with the AEGN services and support
- 88 per cent of respondents are either very satisfied or satisfied with their membership (two respondents didn’t answer this question, and six members were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. One member was dissatisfied).
- AEGN’s Net Promoter Score is above average, indicating strong support of members. The Net Promoter Score is a tool that gauges the loyalty of an organisation’s relationships.
- Members rate as extremely useful or very useful several of the AEGN’s services including the conference (71 per cent), Project Clearinghouse (68 per cent), networking opportunities (65 per cent), events (60 per cent) and funder groups (58 per cent). A range of services were rated extremely useful or very useful by more than 50 per cent of respondents including AEGN-supported-and-led advocacy, and introductions to environmental and climate experts.
- The strongest reasons given for joining the AEGN relate to being part of a community of like-minded givers (88 per cent), as well as connecting with other donors to collaborate with or learn from (88 per cent). Members also highly value the access it provides to information and environmental experts to help inform grant making (81 per cent) and to being part of a movement advocating for change (81 per cent). Two thirds of members join to find project funding opportunities, while four in ten members join for all the above reasons.
- Respondents believe the AEGN is recognised as an effective champion for environmental philanthropy (65 per cent) and climate philanthropy (58 per cent), and partner of choice on environmental issues (65 percent).
- The AEGN’s broader sector profile could be improved, with only one in four members believing the AEGN is well known outside its member base.
I was able to learn about issues that require support and the organisations and campaigns that are addressing those issues that need funding.
I was also able to learn about the tools needed to develop a philanthropic strategy.
Stephen Pfeiffer, Pulse Check 2021
The report suggests the AEGN has an opportunity to extend its impact by:
- continuing to help engage and educate funders.
- connecting funders with one another and supporting more coordinated and collaborative grantmaking responses,
- acting as an advocate on environmental issues and for the environmental grantmaking sector; and
- building its profile beyond its core stakeholder group.
It also notes respondents’ support for the AEGN to engage more strongly with other charitable organisations and research bodies, and to consider the opportunity of providing a pooled funding option.
The AEGN is currently developing a new and ambitious strategic plan for the July 2022 — June 2025 period. We are using the results of this survey as well as extensive focus group feedback to inform the next phase of the AEGN’s future.
Thank you to members who contributed their views, ideas and thoughts through the member survey. We are very grateful for your time and honest reflections.
Thank you also to Regina Hill, Director Effective Philanthropy, for her wisdom and guidance in how best to seek feedback from our members.
Finally, a special thank you to our Ambassador, Leading and Sustaining Supporters who make the work of the AEGN possible through their generous financial support.
Keep up the great work educating us and giving us a network to share ideas with.
Linda Baird, CEO Eucalypt Australia, Pulse Check 2021