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Thoughts on local climate giving

Quinn McHugh
Quinn McHugh

Following the last Green Drinks Philly meetup, an attendee reached out to me, asking for my thoughts on the most impactful climate-focused organizations to contribute to here in the Philly area.

While I don't claim to be an expert in climate giving, I wanted to share my thoughts, in case it might benefit anyone else grappling with similar questions:

1️⃣ If you're thinking about the impact of your donations, kudos!!!!!! 👏👏👏 You're already on a great path towards having more impact.

2️⃣ My default answer to "where should I give locally?" is to turn it around and ask: "is there a particular reason you want to give locally?"

The most cost-effective interventions within a given cause (e.g. climate, global health, education, etc) are often orders of magnitude more cost-effective than the average. Thus, by limiting your scope, you may ultimately be limiting your impact. It's valuable to consider the underlying reason you want to donate to a local organization, given the amount of good your money could do elsewhere. This is not to say that you're wrong for deciding to give locally (there are perfectly valid reasons for doing so!). What matters most is that your decision is made thoughtfully and intentionally.

3️⃣ If you're interested in giving beyond your immediate area, there are two charities I would recommend checking out:

  • Founders Pledge Climate Change Fund - Founder's Pledge advises entrepreneurs on high-impact giving. Donating to their climate change fund puts your money into a pool that is strategically allocated by philanthropic experts. The drawback of charity funds is that it can feel like your money is being thrown into a black box that someone else ultimately decides what to do with. If you'd rather have 100% control over where your donations go, you might turn to a charity evaluator like…

  • Giving Green - Giving Green is a charity dedicated to helping individuals and businesses make more effective climate-giving decisions. They specialize in finding evidence-based, cost-effective, and high-leverage organizations that maximize the impact of your climate donations. See their recommended non-profits here:

4️⃣ When it comes to local organizations, it's probably best to do your own research (and publish your findings for the rest of us!) For starters, you might consider researching organizations like the Clean Air Council, PennFuture, Penn Environment, or Clean Water Action.

For finding additional charities, you might also consider browsing the City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability's publications or the Penn Center for High Impact Philanthropy's webpage on identifying and researching nonprofits to support.

What did I miss? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.