The Future of Philanthropy for Biodiversity, concluded in 2023, was one of Unearthodox's three projects under the umbrella theme 'The Future of Conservation' (2021-2023). These projects culminated in the Unearthodox Learning Festival in October 2023. For insights and information on each exploration, please visit our Resource Library.
For societal and biodiversity resilience and regeneration, Unearthodox is exploring the possible futures of philanthropy. What paradigm shifts are occurring that will shape ways of giving in the future? What are the new paradigms and models of funding/giving and beyond that that could increase net-positive outcomes for nature and people? For this exploration, Unearthodox is conducting background research and interviews, and plans to use the emerging themes and questions to form a state of knowledge report and spark a conversation with a diverse range of stakeholders, including philanthropists, grantees, people at the forefront of community-led conservation, and NGOs from the Global South and North.
Now more than ever, a paradigm shift is needed in philanthropy if it hopes to contribute to more durable solutions to the world’s most complex challenges. Power dynamics between grantors and grantees, donors and communities have always been an inherent part of philanthropy. In the past decade, growing awareness of economic inequality and racial disparities has begun to make these often unspoken undercurrents much more visible. There are also issues that need exploring, such as human rights or siloed funding that create trade-offs and impede systemic impact.
In concert with this push towards philanthropic models that centre justice, equity, and diversity, there have also been repeated calls to identify and fund indigenous and community-led models and ways of conservation. While there are signs that private and institutional funders are paying attention, there has been a lag in engineering and designing systems that convert intentions and pledges into new funding mechanisms and giving structures. Creating hybrid spaces where stakeholders across geographical, power, and sectoral divides can incubate and test bold initiatives will be integral to fostering this vision of a more democratic and just form of philanthropy.