Social change necessitates collaboration between different stakeholders. Indeed, throughout history, social breakthroughs such as ending apartheid in South Africa would not have been possible without active coordination among key actors from different sectors (Ditkoff and Grindle 2017). What is more, philanthropists have played an active part in supporting this coordination.
The case for climate funders to support Networks is clear: Climate change is a global challenge that affects all sectors and people in one way or the other. Without broad, cross-sector and cross-border coalitions, effective climate action is not feasible.
Funders supporting Networks can be a key force in breaking down silos and creating new coalitions of actors. Philanthropy is one step removed from political and market events and can thus act as a credible “bridge builder” (Lorentz and Meier 2012) between those holding particular stakes in these events.
What is more, funders can avoid duplication or increase the visibility of a funding area by engaging in Networks with other funders like funder collaboratives or giving circles (see the case study of the Climate and Land Use Alliance).
- Funders can bring together unlike allies who have similar goals but approach them from different sectoral perspectives. For example, the ECF-funded Knowledge Network in Climate Assemblies (KNOCA) explores challenges and best practices for climate assemblies by convening policymakers, researchers, and civil society actors. Similarly, funders can bring together alike allies who have similar approaches but have not yet engaged in mutual exchange.
- Funders are well placed to go beyond the geographical borders of political or administrative entities. A transnational exchange can identify common goals, develop transnational solutions, and strategies for scaling them up. One example is C40 Cities, a global network of mayors with the mission to halve the emissions of its member cities by 2030.
- Supporting Networks is not simply an end in itself. By initiating or strengthening networks, funders contribute to the amplification of voices (and resources) that can then be heard louder outside the network itself. As a result, funding Networks can pave the way for effective Political Advocacy or help grassroots movements to thrive.
Ditkoff, Susan Wolf; Grindle, Abe (2017): Audacious Philanthropy. Edited by Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review. Available online at https://hbr.org/2017/09/audacious-philanthropy, checked on 11/17/2021.
Lorentz, Bernhard; Meier, Johannes (2012): Strategische Philanthropie zum Klimaschutz. Ansätze am Beispiel der Stiftung Mercator und der European Climate Foundation. Edited by Stiftung & Sponsoring - Das Magazin für Nonprofit-Management und -Marketing. Berlin, Essen (Rote Seiten). Available online at https://www.stiftung-mercator.de/content/uploads/2020/12/Strategische_Philanthropie_Klimaschutz.pdf.