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Australians – facing another potentially severe bushfire season – are embracing grassroots giving to fund climate change solutions.

Climate change is reshaping the world, making extreme weather events commonplace – but it’s not too late. Everyday Australians are banding together to drive the dramatic changes needed to arrest global warming.

Groundswell Giving was launched in 2020 and has quickly attracted around 700 members who have donated $2.26 million for climate change solutions. Community is at the core of its work, with its fund raising built on the giving circle concept.

“Individualism is what got us into this climate mess, and the solutions we need now can only be created together,” says Groundswell Giving Head of Communications Jess Bineth.

“We invite people to learn with us about climate science, action and solutions, and take part in actively delivering climate solutions. Whether it’s through our voting rounds, workshops and webinars, or live events, building community is a big part of what we do.”

Groundswell members pitch in $20 a week or $1000 a year. Twice a year this money is pooled and Groundswell grants funding to grassroots organisations tackling the climate crisis.

Applicants are shortlisted via an advisory group which members then vote on.

“There are a lot of people who want to do more about climate change, but they aren’t sure where to start. Groundswell makes it really easy for new climate funders to support action that is meaningful and successful.”

Climate change philanthropy remains low

There remains a disconnect between Australians’ concerns about the growing severity of the climate crisis and the philanthropic funding it attracts.

About 80 per cent of Australians are really worried about climate change yet climate change funding makes up just a small proportion of the approximate 2 per cent of charitable giving that goes to the Australian environment.

“Climate change is such an intersectional issue and affects every part of our lives, so if we want to be impactful with all other causes we care about – education, mental health, safe housing – we need to first ensure a safe climate future.”

Australia has been grappling with ongoing catastrophic bushfires and floods in recent years. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology has declared a combined El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), raising the likelihood of hotter days, heatwaves, and increased fire danger over the coming months.

Groundswell has delivered more than 60 grants so far, focused on high-impact, co-ordinated strategic solutions that create the conditions for change. Many have attracted significant public attention.

It has funded Environmental Justice Australia, which is currently taking legal action to strengthen Australia's environmental laws, and Australian Parents for Climate Action, which is suing Energy Australia for greenwashing. Other grantees include Comms Declare, which is running a campaign to ban fossil fuel sports sponsorships, and FrontRunners, which is harnessing the cultural power of sport to accelerate climate action by mobilising athletes like Pat Cummins, the Australian Diamonds netball team, and AFL players to push back on fossil fuel sponsorships. (Other recent grant winners can be viewed here.)

New giving circle

Groundswell Giving is making a difference but it will require a major step up in funding to make the changes needed to limit climate change.

Meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C calls for a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. However, current global greenhouse gas emissions make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2°C, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“All the solutions to the climate crisis exist,” Jess says. “They’re backed by science, affordable and ready to go. What we need now is our politicians to step up and implement them at scale.”

The organisation is planning to launch a new major giving circle before the end of 2023, which will be open to both seasoned philanthropists and new givers who want to accelerate their impact, Jess says.

“The goal is to increase funding for transformative climate advocacy and build the skills and confidence of a new cohort of climate funders to fast track climate philanthropy and unlock more future giving. We’re soon to be accepting expressions of interest, so watch this space.”

To join Groundswell as a member, visit their website at www.groundswellgiving.organd to find out more about the new major giving circle contact Arielle Gamble, CEO and Co-Founder at

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