In 2007, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Energy Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Oak Foundation came together to explore how philanthropy could have greater impact in the effort to mitigate dangerous climate change. Their findings were published as Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming, a groundbreaking report that identified priorities for intervention globally and charted an ambitious course for climate philanthropy.
Committed to seeing these strategies put into action, three foundations — Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight — created ClimateWorks in 2008, with the goal of increasing philanthropic impact on climate change. During our first six years, ClimateWorks made hundreds of grants worldwide, helped build capacity in key regions, and collaborated with a network of partners to support research, policy advocacy, outreach and public engagement, all with the aim of reducing the emissions that cause climate change.
The collective successes of ClimateWorks and our partners have confirmed that strategic philanthropic investments can help shape public policy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2012, ClimateWorks began to take stock of what was working and what could be improved, both organizationally and programmatically. We found that many of the assumptions that went into the original strategy design were sound. Philanthropic donors were playing an increasingly influential role in the race to stabilize the climate. Successes confirmed that strategic philanthropic investments could help shape public policy, private sector engagement, and public support, hereby helping to reduce carbon emissions, at scale. ClimateWorks’ global scope and focus on key regions were also real strengths, as was our technical rigor and focus on public policy.
It also became clear that some aspects of ClimateWorks’ programs and organizational model could be refined. For example, we concluded there was an opportunity to engage with broader networks of partners, share strategies and knowledge more widely, and support more coordination among funders.
In 2013, guided by the lessons of our early years, ClimateWorks updated our strategic plan with the central goal of increasing philanthropy’s impact on the climate challenge. We took on a bigger role to help leading climate funders coordinate and redoubled our efforts to work with partners around the world to grow climate philanthropy and reduce the emissions that cause climate change. We continue to experiment, learn, and adapt as we seek to make our best contribution to a prosperous, sustainable, low-carbon future.