Building Behavior Change Capacity in Grantmaking – HCF & ClimateWorks

Building Behavior Change Capacity in Grantmaking

Many environmental efforts will not succeed without significant shifts in human behavior and lifestyles. However, different behavioral biases and mental models combine to make action difficult even for the most well-intentioned parties, whether individuals or institutional actors such as policymakers, investors, and business leaders. 

At the same time, human behavior is at the heart of many solutions that climate philanthropy promotes. Philanthropies and grantees are working to change human behavior whether they are encouraging policymakers to draft a law or citizens to adhere to it, advising investors to consider climate-related risks in their decision-making, or prompting business-owners to use sustainable energy sources. They are certainly also addressing human behavior when they are trying to persuade the general public to vote for policies, adopt a new technology, or simply even believe that climate change is real.

The project designs of many environmental initiatives are subject to funding requirements, and therefore many practitioners may not have the ability to adopt behavior change principles. This also means that grantmakers—those providing the funding—are in an optimal position to help build the capacity of the environmental sector to use cutting-edge behavioral strategies. 

This is why Root Solutions partnered with ClimateWorks Foundation, the Howell Conservation Fund, and Acorn Hill Foundation on various projects to promulgate the use of behavior-based tools.

Root Solutions worked with ClimateWorks to develop a comprehensive concept note that explored various pathways for philanthropic organizations to integrate behavioral insights into their operations. Check out this blog post for a summary of our recommendations or read the more comprehensive report below. Together we presented at the Biodiversity Funders Group (BFG)’s Climate & Energy Funders Group (CEFG) annual meeting.

We are in the early stages with the Howell Conservation Fund of a project that will use behavior change methodology to understand the needs of both funders and their grantees, and to design programs and products that meet those needs. We hope to accelerate the rate at which the environmental movement can adopt much-needed strategies by targeting this leverage point in the system.

To further the adoption of behavior change best practices by foundations, we worked with Howell Conservation Fund and Acorn Hill Foundation to distribute copies of Making Shift Happen to 300 foundations, philanthropy consortiums, and foundation accelerators working on the environment in the US and beyond.

Howell Conservation Fund accelerates environmental initiatives around the world by working at the intersection of business, nonprofit, and philanthropy to drive breakthrough conservation solutions. We work with early-stage nonprofits, small businesses, and philanthropies to maximize their impact and alleviate financial constraints associated with the startup phase of a project, program, or organization.

ClimateWorks is a global platform comprised of researchers, strategists, collaborators, and grantmakers that works to equip organizations with the knowledge, networks, and solutions to drive climate progress for a more sustainable and equitable future. ClimateWorks mission is to end the climate crisis by amplifying the power of philanthropy.