Report reveals funding trends in environmental protection

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Ford Conservation & Environmental Grants, China (CEGC) has been supporting environmental protection projects in China since 2000. Every year since 2016 it has released an annual report on the development of environmental NGOs, aiming to help the people who work in environmental protection get a clearer picture of their own position, and to allow funders who are interested in entering this field to have a better understanding of the current situation as well as the need to carry out effective funding.

Finding funding is one of the most important things for those working in development, and the environmental protection field is no exception. CEGC’s recently released annual report for 2017 provides a comprehensive analysis pertaining to several aspects of funding, including funding areas and targets, project monitoring and evaluation, funding scale and other support, best practices and deficiencies and future funding trends. The analysis is based on interviews with six key organizations in the field of environmental protection.


Funding areas and targets

In terms of the areas of funding, funders expressed the most interest in two specific topics: pollution prevention and ecological protection. They thus offered the most funding in those two areas in the last one to two years.

Most funders tend to fund professional organizations directly rather than separate projects, due to considerations of merit. The main motivation for those who fund separate projects is that they have developed an overall review mechanism to evaluate the objectives, actions, output and impacts of the projects. When it comes to choosing a cooperative partner, funders will choose an open bidding process to make sure of their transparency and operability. In general, the whole process lasts from one month to half a year.


Project monitoring and evaluation

In addition to daily follow-ups, regular meetings, online and offline communication, regular monitoring includes the mid-term report and the final report and financial report at the end of the project. Funders will conduct field visits with relevant parties in some cases.


Funding scale and other support

Funding usually ranges from tens of thousands to millions of RMB according to different projects, topics, and NGOs. In addition to cash, funders also provide other resources, such as helping with the organizational capacity building, introducing networks, offering training and so on.


Best practices and deficiencies

The 100 million trees project (亿棵梭梭) by the SEE Foundation wins the report’s highest approval due to the fact that it promotes cooperation among governments, entrepreneurs, NGOs and herdsmen, and includes various efficient types of fundraising.

When it comes to deficiencies within the environmental protection sector, the funders stress that the insufficient ability to mobilize social resources, self-promote and raise funds may prevent these organizations from growing larger.


Future funding trends

Funders predict that in the future 3-5 years they will focus on topics such as ocean protection, industrial pollution, climate change, garbage issues, green consumption, and environmental education. They also agree that the internet plus will be a new path for the charity sector, and with the combination of big data and technology, a rapid growth of organizations can be anticipated. Nevertheless the small number of foundations willing to provide funding, rather than just conduct operations themselves, will challenge the further development of the environmental field, and the funders should consider conducting strategical adjustments.