Where Does the Money Go (And Where Does it Come From) in Environmental Grantmaking? New Study at Yale School of the Environment

> This is where the funding comes from..you can click to read more easily.

Here’s the link. First of all, I’d like to acknowledge that this is really difficult stuff to do and I appreciate them exploring these issues.

Some of the communities that are most in need of funding are the ones getting the least funds to do environmental work. We hope that foundations recognize this fact and use our findings to evaluate their grantmaking processes and develop more equitable grantmaking strategies.”

Dorceta Taylor Professor of Environmental Justice

There are many fascinating observations in the Executive Summary. (there is a link in the story above)

Over the past decade, there has been much discussion about disparities in grantmaking. As the arguments go, organizations focusing on environmental justice, racial justice, and other forms of social inequality, and those led by People of Color, were less likely to be funded than other kinds of organizations.
However, was this the case with environmental funders?

This study sought to determine if such disparities existed and what factors contributed to the outcomes. To this end, we examined over 30,000 environmental and public health grants totaling about $4.9 billion awarded over three years by 220 foundations.

Sources of mesic/coastal bias in conservation issue framing? You can also click on this one to read more easily.

The fewest foundations were based in the South Central and Mountain regions. Moreover, the two regions generated the fewest awards and the lowest grant dollars. The fewest grants were also disbursed to grantees in the two regions.

It seems from here as if much of the conservation dollars are actually spent on Mountain issues (aka “conservation of western landscapes”), say Monuments, anti-federal oil and gas drilling, grazing, etc., But perhaps those efforts are managed by organizations located outside the area. After all, there are no Wyoming foundations funding “conservation of Pennsylvania landscapes.” Perhaps someone skilled with 990s could break this down. If the Yale folks could figure out the dollars for each grant, it must be doable.

The study also found that foundations tended to fund organizations in their home state. Since most of the foundations were located in California, most of the grants and grant dollars originated in that state. Most of the grant dollars ended up going to California.

At a micro-scale, there is an urban bias to environmental grantmaking. That is, grantees in large cities and cities with dense clusters of foundations receive the most awards and the heftiest grant dollars. Ergo, the most grants and the highest grant dollars were generated in New York City. San Francisco was second in both categories.

Organizations’ revenues matter in their ability to attract funding. Foundations prefer to direct funding to organizations with significant revenues. Consequently, more than half of the grant dollars go to
organizations with revenues of $20 million or more. Organizations with revenues under $1 million receive less than 4% of the grant dollars.

The organizations studied were split into 59 categories and two tiers. The 14 categories constituting Tier I received 64% of the grants and three-quarters of the grant dollars. Natural resources and conservation protection organizations were the most prolific grant-getters. The 45 categories of Tier II organizations received a mere25% of the grant dollars. In other words, they received fewer grants that were smaller in size.

Foundations preferred to fund organizations working on the following issues – conservation, education, energy, ecosystems, and water resources. Though foundations lavished funding on these core topics, philanthropies also funded other issues such as social inequality, justice, empowerment, Indigenous rights, environmental justice, disaster preparedness and relief, housing and homelessness, food assistance and food insecurity, faith and religion, movement building, voter mobilization, workplace and workforce issues, and institutional diversity.General support grants, highly coveted by grantees, were awarded frequently. However, over 80% of the general support grants went to White-led organizations. Moreover, less than 10% of the general support grants go to organizations focused on People of Color.Male-led organizations obtained about 54% of the grants and more than two-thirds of the grant dollars. White-led organizations obtained more than 80% of the grants and grant dollars. Hence,White-male-led organizations received the most grants and grant dollars. White male-led organizations obtained about 48% of the grants and roughly 61% of the grant dollars awarded.

I have to give this group much credit for tracking down all this information. I would think it would be very hard to define what is an environmental issue, a climate issue or a social justice versus an environmental justice issue. Anyway, there’s lots of interesting info in this report.

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