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Garfield Weston Foundation & Media Trust partner to improve communications between environmental charities, funders & public

The Garfield Weston Foundation is partnering with the Media Trust to develop a programme aimed at helping environment charities improve their communications, messaging and profile-raising capabilities.
The move follows research by the foundation that found the majority of environmental charities feel their work is little understood by both the public and funders, with almost a quarter struggling to identify funding sources.
The Garfield Weston Foundation found that only 30% of the non-profit organisations it surveyed believe trusts and foundations understand their environmental work, and 24% struggle to identify sources of funding.
And, while three-quarters of organisations feel confident in the skillset necessary to raise funds, almost half (46%) consider income generation one of the biggest challenges.
Public understanding was also identified as a key barrier. Almost half of the organisations surveyed (49%) believe the biggest challenge the UK charity sector faces is a lack of understanding among the public about the urgency to act on environmental issues, with 55% also identifying the ability to persuade the public of the need to act rapidly as another key challenge. And, over a quarter of organisations fear Brexit and Covid-19 are weakening charitable efforts when it comes to policy work.
The Foundation commissioned I.G. Advisors to survey 68 environmental organisations across the UK, including the Woodland Trust, the RSPB, Buglife and Hubbub. The report, ‘Prioritising our Planet’, reveals that three-quarters of environmental charities are finding financial sustainability a challenge, while almost 80% say they are unable to raise the money they need to achieve the impact they want. Nearly 60% of organisations say they would need an additional 50% of income to reach their strategic goals.
Garfield Weston decided to commission the report after receiving very few applications from charities working on environmental issues despite encouraging the sector to apply for funding.
RSPB CEO, Beccy Speight, commented:

“We know that if we are too hard-hitting and the news is too bleak, then people switch off. What we haven’t done enough of yet is highlighting the positive solutions as well as the dangers. We need to get that balance right.
“The next eighteen months are pivotal. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to raise awareness of climate change and nature. We need to highlight the value that tackling the carbon crisis and restoring habitats can bring, such as jobs and new opportunities in a more resilient and healthy economy.”

Garfield Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, added:


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“While we are all experiencing a Covid-19 crisis, we also still face an environmental crisis. This report highlights the need for powerful conversations between environmental organisations, grant makers and the public, to ensure that excellent organisations are able to do what they do best. We need to break this vicious circle so that organisations have clear messages, the public understands the urgency to act and funders are motivated to provide support.
While the pandemic is causing significant uncertainty across all areas of our society our Trustees are very clear that, as well as helping charities with revenue funding, supporting organisations tackling all aspects of climate change remains a key priority.”

The programme with the Media Trust will run in 2021. The Garfield Weston Foundation is also encouraging charities working on all issues relating to the environment to apply to them for funding. It has already donated over £40 million since April to support charities affected by Covid-19.