“Philanthropy is often seen as giving to benefit people who don’t have what you have, or to people overseas. The shift that happened for me was I realised … that every single cause that we were ever going to support was going to be made much worse by climate change.”Sophie Marple, founder of the Gower Street Foundation
I have an immense appreciation of the benefits we reap from the great outdoors, but I am not an orchard expert. The climate crisis is most definitely on my radar, but I have to admit (rather embarrassingly) that it was the curious minds of my 6 and 9 year olds that really pushed it to the forefront of my mind.
I work in fundraising (I realise at this point some of you may be inclined to stop reading, but do stick with me!) If we didn’t have fundraisers, then far less people would give to the causes we care about. Experience has shown me that even with the best intentions to support what we’re passionate about, it’s not until we’re asked that we actually take action.
Remember when we don’t take action, it’s not the charity that suffers most – it’s the recipients of those accumulative funds. In our case, that’s our beautiful planet, the green spaces and orchard wildlife; connected, knowledgeable communities; improved mental health and wellbeing for individuals…the list goes on.
I have the great privilege of liaising with our members, who choose to help expand our work by making a monthly donation. My favourite part is reading why our members choose to give in this way. I’m always impressed by how knowledgeable everyone is, but even more, I’m constantly moved by the stories from those who remember the joy of growing up with fruit trees and orchards and see community orchards as way of honing skills and sharing this knowledge with others.
More environmental giving
It’s terrific to read that there has been a general uplift in charitable funds being directed towards environmental concerns over the past few years. According to the UK Giving Report, giving to conservation and environmental causes has increased, signalling a slow but real shift from an average donation of £17 in 2017 to £24 in 2021. The Sunday Times Giving List 2022 has also shown a rise in environmental giving.
That said, two thirds of people are planning to cut back in the face of rising living costs. I’m maintaining the portion of my income that goes to charities I care about, but appreciate I am fortunate to be able to do this, despite the increasing volume on my background track of “hurry up in the shower, don’t keep the tap running, turn the lights off, no paddling pool, no, we’ll take a packed lunch!”
But perhaps the statistic that is chewing away at me the most is this: Just 4% of the money from UK philanthropic trusts and foundations goes to environmental causes, including climate change, according to analysis by the Environmental Funders Network.
I obviously have no control of how money raised by trusts and foundations is directed, but it is worrying that with billions of pounds given to charities, so little is given to conservation and environmental issues. Where was everyone when David Attenborough declared that climate change is a ‘crime’ humanity has inflicted on the planet’? Although I suspect many of you reading this knew well before he made this statement.
Support us to help others
Please become a member and make a monthly donation to The Orchard Project. We completely understand that times are difficult for far too many of us right now, but if you are in a fortunate position to give a little, we will ensure this goes towards helping improve the lives of those who would benefit the most.
You’ll be helping to bring the magic of orchards to cities across the UK, providing expert knowledge and green, cared for outdoor spaces, wildlife and fruit for everyone, whilst helping to undo biodiversity loss.
The Orchard Project has put me in place to fundraise, so I must always step up and ask wherever and whenever I can. Hopefully you’ve made it this far!
by Praveen Riat