Established in 2001, the Veolia Stiftung is a German corporate foundation that focuses on funding innovative and sustainable projects that contribute to protecting water resources and biodiversity, increasing energy efficiency, and strengthening the circular economy. The foundation's 2021 funding volume amounted to some 300,000 EUR.
The funding strategy of providing Direct Support rests on the conviction that projects that have a direct impact on the ground can make a real contribution to climate and environmental protection. Especially for foundations with limited funds, Direct Support offers a way to achieve tangible and predictable impacts. The foundation's solution orientation and hands-on mentality are in line with the corporate identity of the environmental service provider Veolia, with which the foundation is associated.
Application in Practice
The funding program of the Veolia Stiftung ranges from supporting nature-based climate solutions to implementing technological solutions.
One of the funded projects aims to make a farm climate-friendly by combining sustainable pasture management with the planting of specific tree species in order to boost carbon storage capacities, increase resilience to erosion, and contribute to a better distribution of rainwater.
Another project funded by the foundation works to reduce the climate footprint of an organisation for people with physical or mental limitations. This is done by providing funding for restoring a building to meet energy-efficiency requirements and to install an electric charging station fed by a photovoltaic system.
In its projects, the Veolia Stiftung draws on the technical know-how of Veolia to achieve its philanthropic goals. To this end, the foundation has created a sponsorship model that encourages employees to personally support the foundation's funding projects.
Two of the key requirements for projects to receive funding from the Veolia Stiftung are their repeatability and novelty. As a consequence, the foundation makes sure that its funding goes into building success models and beacon projects. While the foundation's funds are not only intended to help develop selective solutions and methods, the foundation rather aims to make solutions visible and scalable and to communicate them to stakeholders in business, politics and administration, which means that press and PR work are part and parcel of each project.
What has worked well?
- Building bridges: A multitude of projects and organisations follow innovative approaches but while they often have the expertise required, they lack resources to scale their work. Use your channels to reach outside the "philanthropic bubble" to ensure that projects do not remain isolated initiatives.
- Align funding with actual needs: Applicants are often closer to the issues at hand than funders. Keep calls for proposals broad and link them to overarching themes (circular economy, energy efficiency, etc.). This will allow you to develop a better feel for current trends and needs.
- Keep administration small: Implementation partners often face a lot of red tape when applying for funding. Keeping grant applications simple and flexible helps to relieve partners with limited resources and employees in particular from administrative burdens.
What are opportunities for new funders?
- Strengthening future sectors: Granting Direct Support to the circular economy sector is an emerging yet underfunded area with an innovation potential that new funders can explore.