A conversation with Kate Gordon about climate change funding opportunities on November 21, 2013

Participants

Note: This set of notes gives an overview of the major points made by Ms. Gordon.

Summary

Good Ventures spoke with Kate Gordon, Vice President and Director of the Energy & Climate Program at Next Generation, about climate change funding opportunities.

Climate change funding opportunities

Ms. Gordon said today’s climate change funders tend to pursue similar strategies and that she would recommend a new funder focus on a neglected strategy in order to maximize his or her impact. She highlighted the following gaps:

On the topic of reversing coverage of climate change in the media, she recommended speaking with Jeff Ball and looking at the Kaiser Health News as an example of a successful nonprofit news organization.

Ms. Gordon recommended focusing on particular geographies and said the best work happens when the funder understands the dynamics of the place in which he or she is funding. She said many funders are focused on China, India and Brazil, but few are focused on other Asian countries and Central America.

On the topic of geoengineering research and policy, Ms. Gordon recommended speaking with Andrew Light, formerly of the Center for American Progress and the State Department and an expert in science ethics. She also recommended looking for experts in other countries, e.g. China, where the topic of geoengineering is less taboo than in the U.S.

On the topic of migration related to climate change, Ms. Gordon recommended speaking with Michael Werz at the Center for American Progress. Ms. Gordon added that she liked the crosscutting nature of the issue of labor mobility — which touches on poverty, climate change, human rights, and so on — and said she thinks philanthropy often fails to take advantage of opportunities that transcend silos.   

Areas with lack of room for more funding

Ms. Gordon said she thinks funders have tended to focus on the major environmental groups, but there are exciting strategies emerging outside those groups which are in desperate need of support.

Ms. Gordon said there’s little need for developing new policy ideas because a consensus exists around which policy changes would make the biggest impact toward mitigating climate change. Rather, funders should focus on adapting these policy ideas to specific national and local contexts and building the public and political will for implementing them. One exception to this point is geoengineering, where policy development is needed.

Recent developments in climate change funding

She noted the following important developments in climate change funding recently:

General philanthropic strategy advice

Ms. Gordon urged Good Ventures to avoid single-year restricted grants and instead to provide multiyear unrestricted support to organizations.

She also urged Good Ventures to consider 501(c)4 funding and recommended speaking with the TomKat Charitable Trust on that topic.