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May 5th, 2023

Reflections on the first year "Climate + Philanthropy: A Compact Learning Journey”

By Anneke Kirsch

A year ago, we kicked off the beta cohort of the first course to focus on the intersection of climate change and philanthropy "Climate + Philanthropy: A Compact Learning Journey" in partnership with Philea. Since then, in cooperation with Julia and Katrin from EMBASSY, we have facilitated not only four open cohorts but also one in collaboration with the European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI).  

The May cohort is just around the corner, enrolment for September and October is open, and a few bespoke cohorts are under development. It is safe to say it has been a busy year, especially for Henrike, whose responsibility it largely was to get the course off the ground in the first year. She is now taking a well-deserved sabbatical until September, and Gabriele has stepped in to keep the course running smoothly until Henrike’s return, while I have come on board full-time. Reflecting on the past year, a few moments stand out. 

Firstly, the interactive sessions proved such a memorable experience for everyone involved and clearly distinguish our course from many other online learning programs. It’s of course essential to gain more climate knowledge, understand the basics of the interconnectedness of the climate crisis with philanthropy and be aware of the most recent developments in the sector – but we need to also be discussing the barriers to change, climate anxiety, coping strategies. The modules and sessions cover both and we have found this twofold approach to be genuinely inspiring and valuable this last year.


I have never been exposed to such a structured and clear context regarding climate change. Honestly, I was enlightened. I feel more aware of this real problem of humanity. I feel that I have passed from ignorance to awakening. Going through these modules awakened in me the desire to make a personal change and find ways to incorporate the actions we can do at the level of our foundation.

Programme Director
Fundatia Comunitara Oradea

Another highlight worth mentioning is the cohort we undertook in collaboration with ECFI. While our open cohorts are an excellent way for all sorts of philanthropic professionals from across the world to come together, this exclusive cohort for community foundations showed us how motivating and rewarding it is to bring people from the same work background but from different geographies together. Teodora’s quote wonderfully illustrates how energetic and transformative this cohort was. We are excited to be hosting many more of these bespoke cohorts in the future and to be pushing for more lively exchanges and for more community-building across borders. Do reach out to us if you want to collaborate with us on a cohort in the future!

Last but certainly not least, we have witnessed more diversity among our participants in terms of geographies and background. We have been honoured to have so many different philanthropy professionals on these cohorts from network organisation executives to advisors from Singapore, Ghana, Australia, Zimbabwe, the US, Liechtenstein, Kenia, the UK, Switzerland – many more besides. We are aware of the challenges this poses for the course materials and the scheduling, but it’s a development that we feel immensely motivated and encouraged by. We plan to make the Climate + Philanthropy Course even more diversified, accessible and valuable to its students.