Philanthropy has always had a big part to play in the protection or enhancement of the natural environment. Some of the very largest and oldest charities are nature-based, and their impact and popularity continues. Alongside this, there has always been a philanthropic angle to many of the long-term approaches taken to the natural environment, whether that is something that reflects a view that certain land will remain in the family through multiple generations, to be protected for future generations, or simply reflecting a personal interest and desire to leave a better world behind.

In the new world of Natural Capital and Net Zero, where environmental enhancement goes hand in hand with decarbonisation, we are seeing an increased level of engagement by donors, at all levels. That is understandable, given that we are at a time where market mechanisms are being developed to encourage an environmental approach, but are not fully developed. 

The involvement and drive given to this area by charities and other not for profit organisations both in owning land, getting involved in the formulation of policy and advice, and encouraging a nature-based approach has been one of the striking developments over the past few years. 

This has seen the rapid expansion of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-focused funds, with an increasingly wide range of funds now available for charitable investors. By holding ESG assets in portfolios, charities can ensure that their investments continue to provide growth while also contributing towards the long-term benefit of causes that the charities support. It also allows even non-environmentally focused charities to have a Net Zero impact. Many charities are now reporting on their ESG performance, and we expect this to become increasingly common.  

The challenges that have been faced by the whole country in previous years appear to have created an increasing interest and awareness of the benefits of philanthropy, and perhaps a greater willingness to be overt about philanthropic structures and actions. We are seeing more structures being set up to enable this, and the driver of nature enhancement has been a significant factor in this growth. 

As a firm, we’re seeing an increase in philanthropists who are interested in climate change and supporting the achievement of Net Zero. Effective philanthropy is underpinned by a strong strategy, which outlines, amongst other things, where to focus your support, the types of organisations you want to work with, how engaged you want to be, and how your philanthropy should be structured.

The Philanthropy team at Burges Salmon has recently produced a guide “Turning good into great: Insights into effective philanthropy"   [Link:  Turning Good Into Great], authored by Catherine de Maid, our Head of Philanthropy, which explores the key issues that philanthropists ought to consider, whilst providing useful advice and practical guidance, in order to make their giving as successful as possible. 

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please do get in touch with Catherine de Maid or Kevin Kennedy.