The recent Giving USA 2021 report showed a 5.1% increase in charitable giving to U.S. charities in 2020, or 3.8% adjusted for inflation. One notable highlight was the increase in giving to environment and animal organizations, estimated at 11.6% or 10.3% adjusted for inflation.
With companies shifting their giving strategies to integrate environment, social and governance pillars, we have seen an increased interest in charities working to address these issues.
In fact, this past campaign year, one of the most frequent requests we received was for charities to speak on the subject. While many of our charities focus on traditional cause areas like hunger, disaster relief and health, there is an opportunity to connect their work to the larger issue of environmental impact.
One of our Charity Alliance members, Action Against Hunger, has experienced firsthand the increased request for details about their work and its connection to the environment, specifically with climate change.
In an interview with Aron Flasher, managing director, corporate partnerships, he explains how the Action Against Hunger team reviewed their programs and developed a new approach to address how climate change has impacted their mission to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the nearly 50 countries they serve. Below Aron shares more about Action Against Hunger’s strategy to connect their work with environmental impact.
How does Action Against Hunger approach the integration between environment and hunger?
Aron: Hunger cannot be unlinked from the environment as climate change is one of the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition. Increased drought, greater erosion, depletion of fertile land, livestock disease and other factors have made an impact on hunger. In the long term, if we want to eliminate hunger, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. Failure to do so will make it more difficult to feed the world’s population. In the short term, we must equip communities with alternatives to deforestation and support small shareholder farmers with more sustainable farming techniques.
Has your approach changed to more directly address the environment and climate change in Action Against Hunger’s work?
Aron: While adapting programs to local contexts has always been part of our work, recently, we have taken a more direct approach by recognizing climate as a key driver of hunger. As such, addressing climate change has become a visible component of all our programs. We are promoting more sustainable energy and irrigation techniques through solar-powered boreholes and drip irrigation systems. We’re also helping communities build resiliency, whether it’s through sustainable farming practices or equipping pastoralists with satellite imaging that offers real-time data on grazing conditions.
How did this change impact your relationship with your corporate partners and donors?
Aron: Our focus on climate change as an integral component of our core programs mirrors changes in the corporate sphere. While it was once a rarity to encounter a company with a sustainability report, now it is the norm. Consumers and donors care about climate change and expect the corporations they support to affect meaningful change through improved business practices and direct charitable contributions. Action Against Hunger and other nonprofits serve as vehicles for corporations to drive meaningful change on the ground that both mitigate the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable and advance efforts to curb the release of greenhouse gasses. Our focus on climate change and its impact on hunger makes Action Against Hunger a good partner for corporations that care about sustainable solutions for the environment and health.
What advice can you share with other charities that are looking to address their work on the environment?
Aron: Climate change impacts your work whether you acknowledge it or not. There is no space it does not touch, and it likely will only continue to grow in importance in the cultural zeitgeist as we continue to push further toward the brink. To maintain relevancy with donors, regardless of your organization’s core issues, I would encourage organizations to frame your work in a climate change context. How is what you do part of the solution?
Thank you to Aron and the Action Against Hunger team for sharing their experience highlighting the connection between their work on hunger and the environment. We are inspired by the holistic approach they have taken to address hunger worldwide. If your charity is interested in shifting its approach to highlight the impact of the environment or another cause area, please reach out to us.