Misalignment or exclusion? Investigating climate and energy philanthropy funding of diversity




Hoicka, Christina E.
Stephens, Jennie C.
Zhao, Yuxu
Hernandez, Pável Soriano

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Energy Research & Social Science


Environmental philanthropy is expanding while inequities and disparities among those impacted by environmental degradation are also growing. Little is known about the distribution of funds from environmental philanthropy, that is, who is benefitting and who is excluded? This study analyzes how environmental philanthropy is being distributed among non-profit organizations working on a low-carbon energy transition in Canada. The funding sources of 462 organizations characterized as either diversity-led or conventional-led were analyzed and compared. Organizations that are clearly led by equity deserving communities were classified as “diversity-led” while organizations that provided no indication of diverse leadership were classified as “conventional-led”. The findings indicate that the 356 conventional-led organizations receive philanthropic support from more funders than the 106 diversity-led organizations. The diversity-led organizations, that are more often addressing equity-deserving communities, received philanthropic support three times less often, and support from less funders than the conventional-led organizations. These results demonstrate that environmental philanthropy in Canada favors a large set of established organizations and perpetuates a landscape of exclusion for diversity-led organizations working on the low-carbon energy transition. By perpetuating disparities through funding, philanthropy is reinforcing inequities among marginalized communities. This in turn is setting back the progress of equity in low-carbon energy transitions in Canada.


We thank Dr. Aline Coutinho, Jessica Conroy, Dr. Jennifer Taylor and Dr. Rachana Devkota for their research assistance. We thank Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies for administrative support. Thanks also goes to Dr. Kathryn Harrison for feedback at the 2023 International Studies Association Conference.


Environmental philanthropy, Justice, Low-carbon energy transitions, Equity deserving communities, Participation, Equity, diversity, inclusion (edi)


Hoicka, C. E., Stephens, J. C., Zhao, Y., & Hernandez, P. S. (2023). Misalignment or exclusion? Investigating climate and energy philanthropy funding of diversity. Energy Research & Social Science, 106, 103317. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2023.103317