Where to start your climate journey?

Tackling the climate crisis requires far-reaching policy, infrastructure and behavioural change at an unprecedent scale and speed. Yet for many philanthropy practitioners, getting started is a challenge. That’s why the European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate has developed a framework to get philanthropy started on this journey.

First, what’s holding philanthropy back?

For many philanthropy practitioners, climate is seen as falling outside the scope of the mission of their foundation. However, if we leave the letter of foundation missions aside and look at the spirit of them, the climate crisis actually does fall within the missions of many foundations:

Climate change is a health issue

It represents the greatest threat to public health.

Climate change is a child rights issue

Nearly half of the world’s children are at extremely high-risk because of the impacts of climate change.

Climate change is also a…

gender equality issue, a racial and social justice issue, an educational issue, an economic issue, a cultural issue, a security issue, a human rights issue, and a local community

Seen in this way, climate change weaves through all philanthropic activity, and not addressing it puts all philanthropic activity at risk.

On top of the question of missions, philanthropy practitioners may feel that climate change is too big and complex a problem to address. But in the face of this crisis, philanthropy is not powerless. In fact, it is uniquely placed to catalyse the transformations we need to see across society. As the European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate, we believe that all foundations, regardless of mission, can apply the climate lens to their operations, programmes and investments.

Setting out on the journey

Here we offer a framework for this journey, the hardest part of which is just getting started…

You don’t need to be an expert to get started. Educate yourself about the causes and impacts of climate change. Explore the links between climate change and your philanthropic goals. Learn about how philanthropy is currently tackling this issue, and where the gaps and needs are.

Where to start?

Through #PhilanthropyForClimate, we offer a framework for all foundations to consider the different tools and resources available to them. The relative importance – and impact – of each pillar varies from foundation to foundation, and we believe that foundations should be tackling climate holistically. Still, don’t lose sight of where you can make the biggest difference.

Where to start?


A clear, specific, and ideally, public commitment gives your climate journey a real sense of direction and purpose. Once you have made that commitment, it is helpful to keep track of your progress and of the lessons you learn along the way to share both within your organisation and with your peers.

Where to start?

  • Join #PhilanthropyForClimate by signing a national commitment (for foundations in France, Italy, Spain or the UK) or the international commitment (for all other countries).
  • Transparency is a shared pillar of the #PhilanthropyForClimate commitments. Progress reports provide signatories with a regular opportunity to reflect on and share how their climate journeys are evolving, and it allows us, as a sector, to identify trends and areas that require further work. For example, the reports produced by the Association of Charitable Foundations and the French Foundation Centre show several ways in which foundations are implementing their climate commitments.

The good news is that you are not alone on this journey: #PhilanthropyForClimate is a growing global movement representing more than 650 foundations. To meet the scale, complexity and urgency of the problem, we need to share our learnings and collaborate.

Where to start?

  • The European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate offers a number of peer-exchange and learning opportunities to support foundations in the implementation of their climate commitments. This includes a Health & Climate peer exchange and a “Decoding COP28” webinar series. We also regularly organise convenings at and around Philea flagship events.
  • Check out tips from foundations, such as the Chiesi Foundation and Sabancı Foundation, who have shared how they started their climate journeys.

Philanthropy can convene an impressive range of stakeholders and can amplify voices that often go unheard. Think about the spaces in which you might be heard and advocate for change – in your organisation, in the sector and beyond. Share your story to bring others along on their journeys.

Where to start?

  • André Wilkens, European Cultural Foundation, Axelle Davazac, Fondation de France and Giles Ruck, Foundation Scotland shared their stories as part of our “For a Climate of Change” campaign.
    Get in touch if you would like to share yours!

One foot in front of the other

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach and there are many different routes to integrating climate into a foundation’s work. By incorporating the risks of climate change as well as the benefits of addressing climate change into your work, you can increase your impact, whether you work in health, education, the arts, social inclusion or any other field, and ensure greater climate resilience.

The cost of inaction is clear. The speed of action depends on you.

About the European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate

Philea’s European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate (Climate Coalition) is an initiative of Philea and was co-initiated by the PEXcommunity. We connect a diverse group of foundations, philanthropy infrastructure organisations and other partners to accelerate transformational change.  

The Climate Coalition has worked in partnership with WINGS to launch and scale the global #PhilanthropyForClimate movement and the International Commitment since 2021. Philea leads on supporting the emergence of new national commitments in Europe and acts as the main point of contact for European signatories that have signed the International Commitment.

In 2023, the European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate is funded by:


Karalyn Gardner
Programme Manager – Climate Coalition
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