Donors need proof of green charities' value

Environmental charities need to better communicate the value of their work if they are to boost their share of charitable grants above its current 2 per cent figure, according to donor information organisation New Philanthropy Capital.

The organisation’s Green Philanthropy report found that only 5 per cent of the £8bn given annually by people in the UK goes to the environmental sector, despite growing public concern about the natural world. In contrast, 18 per cent is given to medical research charities and 12 per cent to charities working with children and young people.

The report describes the sums as “woefully inadequate” and praises the “invaluable” role charities have in addressing the “monumental” environmental problems humanity faces. “Without meaningful resources, charities struggle to maximise their impact,” the report reads.

However, the report says giving is hampered by a lack of information among donors about “what, who and how to fund” and the effectiveness of different approaches. It says: “The work of environment charities is often reduced to highly visible activities, such as public campaigning and protecting ‘charismatic’ endangered species. These are important aspects of their work, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.”

Green Philanthropy says charities often lack the resources to provide evidence of their effectiveness but also calls for charities to give more priority to doing so.

It says: “What is the evidence that this reserve or that species introduction programme is working? Is there potential for a business income stream that will contribute to the social and economic prosperity of local communities? Charities are frequently unable to do this because of lack of resources, but a change in attitudes towards self-assessment is also needed.”

The report also calls on donors to help strengthen the sector’s infrastructure by, for example, supporting networks and forums and exchanging scientific data and practical advice.

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