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How to make your money matter donating to climate-related causes

Words by Tess Becker

The climate emergency will increasingly have severe impacts ranging from floods and storms to wildfires and deadly wetbulb temperatures. Actions to ward off the worst of this crisis range from individual lifestyle changes or "micro-consumerist bollocks" as George Monbiot has aptly put it; to more impactful approaches such as collective direct action. Those who lack the time can also donate to the organizations making a difference.

To help people safely send money to organizations with their best interests at heart, Giving Green offers a solution. 

Giving Green is a guide for individuals and businesses to make more effective climate giving decisions.

“We perform rigorous research and recommend highly effective climate initiatives, so you can give with confidence,” they write on their website.

Between data analytics helping individual dollars go as far as they can and researching organizations making sure they do what they say they do, Giving Green helps strengthen the power that giving can have.

It all started as a vision from Dan Stein, who at the time was already working in anti-poverty and agriculture spaces where he worked with donors to find what works best for them. But with the climate crisis looming the perspective changed.

“Climate was becoming more and more a part of my work as that affected agriculture in poor countries but also part of my life apart from work, worried about the climate crisis and trying to figure out what I could do,” Dan tells Smiley News. “As an individual talking with other individuals and the donor networks we were working with, it became clear that there was that a lot of people that wanted to do something about climate change and they wanted to allocate money towards it, but couldn't quite figure out what to do.”

That was the start of Giving Green. He stepped away from the idea for a short period but it kept eating at him and he returned to it, hoping to make a difference. 

“I felt like there was this hunger both within myself and within others I was talking to, to figure out how to really address some of the big systemic issues with climate change and trying to figure out how me is just one person could actually do something,” Dan says. “So I decided to start Giving Green to apply some of these tools of the evidence, ecosystem and international development that I've been working on for years.”

Giving Green’s process is very fluid, choosing to go with the flow, seeking out organizations but also letting them come to them and doing the due diligence to find good organizations that will put money to good use.

“We're looking for the places where we think like the marginal dollar can do a lot of good,” Dan says.

In the three or so years they’ve been in business, Giving Green has directed over $5.5 million to climate organizations and that number doesn’t look like its going to stop growing. As a whole, Dan’s future plans for Giving Green is to find ways to increase their reach and influence. 

“We don't want to be a huge organization, but we want to be a little bit bigger so that we can really cover the philanthropy space a little bit more comprehensively,” Dan says. “I think there's still some still really great organizations out there that we would like to highlight that we just don't have the capacity to do and the big thing for us is becoming more of a household name.”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Women Invested to Save Earth Fund. This organization helps support underrepresented and underfunded Black, indigenous, and women of color-led organizations across the world. Find out more and support them here

Collective Sun. They help nonprofits get outfitted with solar power capabilities. Check them out here.

Florida Bicycle Association. An organization that helps mobilize people and promote greener living and safer biking. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs