Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Thirty years ago, McDonald’s and the Environmental Defense Fund embarked on what they called “a groundbreaking collaboration to change the way environmental progress” is achieved. They created a template for business-friendly green groups to work with global corporations. EDF helped Walmart develop its landmark sustainability program. WWF helped Coca-Cola protect freshwater. The Nature Conservancy and Dow Chemical came up with tools to help …

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The people who run billion-dollar foundations like to talk about their grants. They pump out press releases, produce slick videos, post on social media, publish annual reports and compile searchable databases, all calling attention to the ways they give away money. But how do they invest their money? Many won’t say. Fewer than half of 15 of the biggest U.S. foundations, which …

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“Universities,” says Harvard, “have a special role and special responsibility to confront the global challenges of climate change and sustainability.” Indeed they do. But by financing the exploration and production of fossil fuels, Harvard is failing to live up to that responsibility. In an effort to hold the university accountable, a group of prominent alumni, led by former …

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Climate change is “the slow-motion equivalent of a large asteroid heading to earth,” writes Joshua S. Goldstein, in a new book about climate solutions. It’s potentially catastrophic, and requires a political solution, he argues. But Goldstein says that if he were put in charge of environmental grant-making at a big US foundation, he would not …

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Eighteen months ago, the people who manage the endowment at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation got some bad news: Investments they had made in funds managed by EnerVest, a Houston-based private equity firm that operates more than 33,000 oil and gas wells across the US, had plummeted in value to almost nothing. …

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Who could object to efforts to bring clean, renewable energy to people without electricity? Donors and investors love social enterprises (D.Light, Greenlight Planet, BrightLife) and nonprofits (SolarAid, GivePower) that bring solar panels, lights or phone chargers to poor households in Africa and south Asia. Why, even President Obama, on a visit to Tanzania, played with …

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This special report was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Journalism. * * * Eric Reynolds was despondent. He had poured his heart and soul, his best ideas and a chunk of his life savings into Nau, the radically sustainable, greener-than-green apparel company that he founded in 2003. The global …

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Fact: Nuclear power plants generate about 20 percent of all the electric power in the US, more than hydropower (7.5%), wind (6.3%) and solar (1.3%) combined, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Put another way, they account more than half of the low-carbon electricity in the US. Fact: The IPCC, the International Energy Agency, …

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The Chronicle of Philanthropy last month published my opinion piece on climate philanthropy. They’ve kindly agreed to let me repost it here. America’s foundations have poured billions of dollars into the fight against climate change. What do they have to show for their money? Big environmental grant makers — Hewlett, MacArthur, Moore, Packard, and the …

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Two new books kept me busy last week: Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, by Paul Shapiro, and Clean Protein: The Revolution that will Reshape Your Body, Boost Your Energy–and Save Our Planet, by Kathy Freston and Bruce Friedrich. Is a revolution coming to dinner? Well, maybe. These …

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