Environmental charities ‘struggling to attract interest from funders and the public’

Environmental charities are “struggling to communicate” the value of their work tackling climate issues to the public and funders, a report has found.

Funder Garfield Weston Foundation commissioned a survey of environmental charities after finding a lack of grant applications from voluntary organisations working in this sector.

The survey included the views of 68 environmental charities, including the Woodland Trust and RSPB.

Half (48.5%) of those surveyed said the biggest challenge the charity sector faces is a lack of public understanding about the urgency to act on environmental issues.

In addition, just 30% believe trusts and foundations understand their environmental work.

Eight out of ten are unable to raise the money they need to achieve the impact they want on environmental issues.

A quarter believe Brexit and Covid-19 will weaken their policy work and a similar proportion found identifying sources of funding a challenge.

Meanwhile, three quarters of environmental charities are finding financial sustainability a problem.

In response to the findings, the Garfield Weston Foundation is to link up with the Media Trust to help environmental charities improve their communications, messaging and profile raising. This programme of support will launch next year.

“While we are all experiencing a Covid-19 crisis, we also still face an environmental crisis,” said Garfield Weston Foundation director Philippa Charles.

“This report highlights the need for powerful conversations between environmental organisations, grant makers and the public, to ensure that excellent organisations are able to do what they do best. We need to break this vicious circle so that organisations have clear messages, the public understands the urgency to act and funders are motivated to provide support.

“While the pandemic is causing significant uncertainty across all areas of our society our Trustees are very clear that, as well as helping charities with revenue funding, supporting organisations tackling all aspects of climate change remains a key priority.”

RSPB chief executive Beccy Speight added: “We know that if we are too hard-hitting and the news is too bleak, then people switch off. What we haven’t done enough of yet is highlighting the positive solutions as well as the dangers. We need to get that balance right.

“The next eighteen months are pivotal. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to raise awareness of climate change and nature. We need to highlight the value that tackling the carbon crisis and restoring habitats can bring, such as jobs and new opportunities in a more resilient and healthy economy.”

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