New report shows funders upping their commitment on climate change

7 June 2022

ACF publishes second progress report on the UK’s Funder Commitment on Climate Change, with investment a particular focus for many 

The Association of Charitable Foundations, the member body for charitable foundations in the UK, has today published the second progress report on how signatories to the UK’s Funder Commitment on Climate Change are delivering on their commitments. 

The report is based on a survey of signatories to the Commitment and shows continued strong progress with more funders signed up and growing progress across the issues covered in the Commitment. 

The Funder Commitment on Climate Changes was launched in November 2019 at ACF’s annual conference. It now has 91 signatories who pledge action on climate change. The six pillars of the Commitment are to:

1. Make opportunities for trustees, staff and stakeholders to learn more about climate change. 
2. Commit resources to accelerate work that addresses the causes and impacts of climate change
3. Integrate action on climate change into existing programmes, priorities and processes
4. Steward investments for a post carbon future 
5. Decarbonise operations
6. Report annually on progress

This year’s report shows progress on each pillar, with previous signatories moving up the scale of progress and new signatories coming in and starting their journey (see notes for full tables). 

The investment pillar shows the biggest change, with those making some progress jumping from 14 last year to 31 in 2022. Another 15 funders say they are at an advanced stage this year. The focus on investment is against the background of the High Court case brought by Ashden Trust and Mark Leonard Trust for approval of their climate and investment policies and with renewed focus on investments around the UN COP26 climate summit in November 2021. 

Another feature of the findings in this year’s report is action by funders to set up structures and processes to deliver action on climate within their organisations. Funders are increasingly using targets, action plans and making links to organisational strategies to deliver change. Trustee buy-in is also key, with many trustee boards pushing for action and putting in place reporting back mechanisms. 

Funders are also looking at how to support grantees on climate. The report finds a range of activity with funders:

• Explicitly welcoming applications with climate consideration     
• Asking grantees how they are thinking about climate change or if they have an environmental or climate policy 
• Adopting a FunderPlus approach with support offered for grantees on climate issues (eg access to training)          
• Applying a climate lens to all engagement with grantees, including funding design and approvals           
• Dedicating funds to help organisations to think about and act on climate, whether as add-on grants to help recipients on climate change or specific grants for work on climate change.

The report also shows the range of funders signed up to the Commitment. Only seven funders exclusively fund environmental issues and, while 43 out of 70 partly fund the environment, there are plenty of other funders including those working with children and young people (49%), on inequality (41%), poverty (38%), place-based funding (38%) and health (36%).

Joanna Pienkowska, ACF’s senior policy and engagement officer and lead on the Funder Commitment, said: “We’ve consistently said that climate change is an issue for all foundations and funders. Given the range of its impacts, it’s a health issue, a gender equality issue, a racial and social justice issue, an intergenerational issue, an economic issue and a issue for local communities. This report shows that funders agree, with more signing up who work across a wide range of funding themes. 

“What’s particularly pleasing about the report this year is the continued commitment from signatories to report back. Funders aren’t signing up to the Commitment and then forgetting about it but using it as a framework to develop their own thinking and actions on climate change. We’re looking forward to seeing what actions funders take forward this year.”

The full responses from signatories are available as a spreadsheet here


Want to celebrate and discuss the progress made by funders? Join us online for the launch of the report on 20 June, 2pm–3.45pm. Book your place here.