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Stories of change: how community foundations are advancing local climate solutions in Europe

In an era marked by an urgent need for effective and comprehensive climate action, community foundations across Europe can play a pivotal role. With their grassroots focus and deep local ties, many are experimenting with holistic approaches to climate challenges and searching for local solutions to the stark global climate crisis. 

Community foundations come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share a commitment to creating vibrant and sustainable communities with whatever resources they have at their disposal.  Whether recently established with an explicit climate mission or older foundations adapting to include climate action in their strategic priorities, there is a dynamic shift towards recognising and tackling the challenges posed by the climate crisis at the community level. 


However, community foundations face significant challenges, particularly around capacity and funding. Expanding climate action requires willingness and the ability to forge and maintain strategic partnerships and influence local policies and practices. Many foundations are constrained by limited resources, which hampers their ability to think and act strategically. 


These are some of the insights emerging from our latest publication, "Walking the Climate Talk: Stories of Community Foundation Climate Action Journeys from Around Europe," which brings together six stories from across the European community foundation field on how these organisations are advancing climate action in their communities. 


Five are from community foundations that joined the ECFI cohort of the Active Philanthropy Climate & Philanthropy Learning Journey, our strategic effort in supporting and accompanying the field in understanding the local significance of climate change and exploring strategies to integrate the climate lens in their organisation. The participating community foundations benefited significantly from stepping back from daily operations to strategically contemplate how the climate crisis intersects with their activities and to formulate tailored action plans. A common theme across these cases is the value of networking and support from peers within the ECFI Climate Action Peer Group, highlighting that effective climate leadership relies as much on forging strong relationships as on strategic planning and emphasizing the inclusive nature of this collective effort. 

By mobilizing local resources and tailoring solutions to specific local conditions, community foundations can play a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis from the ground up invaluable. With this report we want to shed light on some of the emerging, innovative and transformative efforts of European community foundations to integrate a climate perspective into their work and hope to encourage others to embark on similar initiatives. 


Read the report here

Kathrin Dombrowski & Francesca Mereta, ECFI

April 2024


The actions described in the text are relevant to SDG:

SDGs symbols
James Magowan

Co-ordinating Director

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