Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of the day, and it is a problem that the nonprofit sector is taking serious action against.
For nonprofit organizations engaged in mitigating climate change and protecting our planet, fundraising around this issue and securing sustainable sources of revenue is vital.
In the following article, we will provide guidance on how to develop a successful climate change fundraiser, how to engage donors around this urgent problem, and identify solutions to common climate change fundraising challenges.
Importance of Fundraising for Climate Change
Climate change refers to the planet’s shifting weather patterns and temperature over the long-term.
While the Earth’s climate has experienced minor shifts throughout history, recent climate change is the direct result of increased human emissions, deforestation, and manufacturing that has accelerated at an unprecedented rate.
The consequences of the climate will be disastrous and have already begun. Droughts, extreme rainfall, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and wildfires are only some of the consequences of climate change that have already been observed—and they are happening far sooner than many scientists initially predicted.
According to a report from the United Nations, the previous four years were the hottest years on record and are on the verge of what scientists would categorize an “unacceptable risk”.
Without mitigation, global temperatures are predicted to rise over 3 degree celsius by 2100, which would result in irreversible harm to the planet’s ecosystems including plant, animal, and human life.
Notably, vulnerable individuals and communities are predicted to experience the brunt of these events. When sounding the alarms about climate change, scientists have stressed that the crisis is an equity issue as well.
As the consequences of climate change intensify, marginalized communities will face disproportionate challenges in terms of extreme events, health effects, food, water, and livelihood security, and other related risks.
This crisis requires an ambitious and urgent response and the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors are some of the key entities working to mitigate the impacts of these risks.
Nonprofit organizations are uniquely positioned to address this global issue and catalyze meaningful change.
Nonprofits are already working hand in hand with communities to address the most pressing issues of the day and are driven by missions to provide aid to those who need it most. As such, they have the capacity and drive to take action and raise awareness around the issue of climate change.
Some of the key services and programs of nonprofits working to combat climate change are:
The work of these nonprofits is absolutely vital and requires robust fundraising strategies to secure support required to formulate an appropriate response.
Many nonprofits have already begun fundraising around the issue of climate change and developing creative solutions to address the issue and activate their networks of donors and communities of support.
While fundraising for climate change is a priority for many environmentally focused nonprofits, any nonprofit or charity can fundraise around this issue and advocate for action. All nonprofits should be at the forefront of tackling this issue and pressing key leaders and entities for change, and advocating on behalf of those they serve to protect them from the harshest impacts of the crisis.
In the following section we will take a deeper dive into strategies for fundraising around climate change and how to effectively activate donors to secure their support around this issue.
Strategies for Climate Change Fundraisers
There are many opportunities for nonprofits to develop actionable fundraising climate change strategies.
The following list is just a few of the top strategies for developing an effective and purposeful climate change fundraiser.
Pursue Corporate Giving
Corporate giving can be a key method for significantly boosting your climate change fundraising efforts.
The corporate community is becoming more and more invested in finding solutions to climate change, making widespread promises to cut emissions and become more sustainable in the near future.
Being more environmentally sustainable is becoming a priority for businesses and nonprofits can take advantage of these commitments by soliciting sponsorships and requesting funding through corporate giving.
When it comes to climate change, reaching the broadest audience possible is imperative.
At the end of the day, climate change will impact each and every one of us and developing successful fundraising strategies requires as much participation as possible.
Social media is a powerful tool for communication and a simple and cost effective way to reach new and existing audiences. Social media is unique in that it helps nonprofits develop relationships with audiences by meeting people where they are.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok are all free to use and with some staff time and effort, nonprofits can cultivate new audiences and create online fundraising campaigns without spending a significant amount of money on overhead.
Social media also allows audiences to communicate with each other and easily share information. Many social media platforms even allow individuals to create their own personal fundraising campaigns for the charity of their choice. This strategy is called peer-to-peer fundraising and leveraging this model can be hugely effective for nonprofits.
Nonprofits can also use social media to promote shareable content such as visuals and infographics. Using moving or informative images can engage new audiences by delivering important messages in an easy to digest format.
For example, the NRDC utilizes effective visuals and branding in their social media content to help engage their audience around the urgency of climate change, inspiring individuals to take action.
Tapping into these networks is a powerful way for nonprofit organizations to advocate for systemic change and encourage individuals to become donors.
Leverage Evidence-based Advocacy
One of the strengths of fundraising around climate change is that there are innumerable scientific studies that have called for urgent action and that have provided a list of ways people can help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Sometimes the most challenging aspect of fundraising is finding ways to convince an audience that an issue is urgent and requires an urgent funding response.
Fortunately, there are countless scientists and leaders who are sounding the alarm on climate change and these messages are backed by evidence-based, peer reviewed research.
Consider amplifying the messages of these experts when developing fundraising strategies and content. Sharing relevant studies, research, and evidence can help urge supporters to get more involved.
Look to the following resources for trusted evidence-based information to inspire your audience to action:
It is clear that climate change is a crisis that requires an urgent response.
With that said, nonprofits still face challenges and require thoughtful solutions to effectively develop climate change fundraisers.
The Challenge: Donor Fatigue
Given the urgency of climate change, many nonprofits and advocacy organizations have this issue at the forefront of their programming and fundraising initiatives.
Donors who support such efforts can become easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of requests and information sent their way.
It is not difficult for a donor inbox to become overwhelmed by urgent calls to action with subject lines like, “CLIMATE DISASTER IMMINENT” or “URGENT CLIMATE CRISIS”.
It is overwhelming as an individual to consider the existential implication of the crisis, let alone be bombarded by every environmental nonprofit with urgent requests for funding. Without careful strategizing, donors can become easily overwhelmed and fatigued by the issue, becoming less likely to donate or get involved with an organization’s mission.
The Solution: Treat Your Donors With Care
Never forget that your donors are people—people who are directly impacted by the effects of climate change and are most likely exhausted by the anxiety of such a devastatingly massive and complex challenge.
When communicating with donors, always keep in mind that you are most likely not the only nonprofit who has reached out and that very likely climate change is a distressing and overwhelming issue for your supporters to grapple with.
Share stories of solidarity or offer self-care resources, acknowledging that your supporters' mental health and wellness are important to you. Simply thanking your donors for their support can help boost morale and keep them engaged in the cause.
Sharing “wins” and stories of impact can also help keep donors engaged around your mission. Showing that their support is making a huge, positive change in the world will help them continue to support and remain excited about your programming and initiatives.
The Nature Conservancy regularly shares updates about the efficacy of their own work as well as information about achievements across the sector.
Treating your donors as important and key individuals in the advancement of your mission will go a long way to combating donor fatigue and sustaining your campaigns.
The Challenge: Maintaining Diverse Revenue Streams
Maintaining diverse revenue streams is an ongoing challenge for the entire nonprofit sector.
And for environmental and conservancy nonprofits, the challenge can be even greater. Climate solutions come with significant upfront costs such as making investments in solar power and green infrastructure.
Despite the fact that infrastructure designed to combat climate change will mostly realize long-term savings and cost efficiencies, it can be difficult to maintain and procure such substantial equipment without robust, diversified revenue.
The Solution: Focus on Multiple Funding Sources
Diversifying revenue means developing a fundraising strategy where the focus is on multiple types of funders and funding sources.
The most effective fundraising strategies include robust individual giving programs and grant programs. Relying solely on one or the other will make sustainability difficult.
Instrumentl helps nonprofits build out strong grant programs and grow their overall revenue. Instrumentl is an easy to use, cloud-based grant search platform that leverages intelligent matching algorithms to support nonprofits in prospect research and identifying active grant opportunities that align with their mission and work.
Users can filter searches by relevant subjects such as grant type, geographic area, funding amount, and location.
The platform pulls relevant data from 990s and also updates RFP information with key information from funder websites to ensure all deadlines and information is as up to date as possible.
Climate change is the pressing issue of our day. This crisis will eventually impact the lives of each and every one of us and it is our job to work diligently to mitigate its effects.
Nonprofits play a central role in developing innovative responses to climate change and must create effective fundraising strategies to ensure they can meet the needs of the time. With the information presented in this article, nonprofits can be prepared to tackle climate change alongside advocates and community partners and ultimately create a better tomorrow for future generations.
For more information on fundraising around important social, environmental, and economic issues of the day visit Instrumentl’s blog for expert guidance, FAQs, and informative articles.
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