The urgency of climate and biodiversity challenges has never been clearer: 2020 was the hottest year ever recorded, and the last seven years have all been the hottest on record.
As the scale and impact of the dual climate and biodiversity crises becomes clearer, the philanthropic community is rising to the challenge by providing an unprecedented amount of funding to organisations committed to leaving a brighter future for the next generations.
Financial freedom of philanthropy
The independence and financial freedom of philanthropy, and its ability to fund outside of election cycles, means philanthropy has fortified some of the most critical climate and nature interventions in Australia.
In this Environment and Climate Change Giving Trends 2022 report we provide Australia’s most comprehensiveassessment of the trends in philanthropic giving to the environment and climate change.
Globally, philanthropy dedicated to environment and climate change remains small, just 2.1 per cent in the US, less than two per cent in the EU, and 5.8 per cent in the UK.
Climate philanthropy is gathering pace
Last financial year global climate change philanthropy grew at four times the rate of total philanthropy, up 14 per cent compared to three per cent for philanthropy overall.
In recent years some very large philanthropic gifts and pledges have been dedicated to environmental and climate solutions, including $500 million from Australia’s own Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes.
In 2018-19, Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs),
a common structured giving vehicle
for philanthropists, gave 2.1 per cent or
$11.6 million of their distributions to the
environment, though this is likely to be
significantly higher due to the way giving
data is categorised by the tax office.
Environmental charities continue to receive a tiny slice of the revenue received by the wider charitable sector, only 0.5 per cent in the 2019 reporting year.
The corpus of AEGN members who participated in the 2021 survey was $2 billion, up from $1.4 billion in 2018, an increase of 43 per cent in just three years.
The rate of donation and bequest giving to environmental charities in Australia has increased in recent years to $267 million in the 2019 reporting year. It grew by 10.9 per cent between 2018 and 2019 after an increase of 3.5 per cent the previous year.
Data from the next few years will hopefully show critical increases in giving following the 2020 fires and growing recognition of the climate and biodiversity crises. 2020 figures are due in mid-2022.
Over 60 per cent of AEGN members who responded to the 2021 survey indicated that they have increased their giving over the past financial year.
In a 2021 survey one third of members of the AEGN distributed $75 million to the environment in financial year 2020-21, of which $65 million was for climate change. Given this represents one third of the membership, we expect the total figure for giving by AEGN members would be at least $100 million in the 2020-21 financial year. The 2021 survey results demonstrate a 178 per cent increase on the 2018 survey results, which found participating members donated $28 million.
It appears that funding donated to environment and climate change organisations by AEGN members accounts for approximately half of the total donation and bequest revenue received
by environmental organisations.
In 2021, 1 in 4 respondents gave all their funding to environmental issues, with 75 per cent of members reporting that at least half of the funding goes to environmental causes. The 2018 survey found 42 per cent of participating members reported giving more than half of their
funding to environmental issues, suggesting environmental funding is becoming an
increasing priority for AEGN members.
Although there is not a perfect alignment in the time periods for which data is available, it appears that funding donated to environment and climate change organisations by AEGN members accounts for approximately half of the total donation and bequest revenue received by environmental organisations, as registered by the ACNC.
Corporate philanthropy is estimated at $500 million cash per year in 2017-18, with the proportion given to the environment unknown.
17 December 2020
3 March 2022