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COP26: Five Climate Change Factors Impacting Nonprofit Organisations

  • 3 min read

The Cop26 global climate summit, which recently took place in Glasgow, is a stark reminder that climate change is a reality confronting all humanity. It will usher in major changes affecting our lives and those of future generations.

Such developments will impact nonprofits (NPOs) and social justice organisations by introducing both new opportunities and new risks, says Inyathelo, which helps NPOs to become sustainable in the long term.

NPOs should  inform themselves and plan accordingly. Five key factors to consider and plan for in the context of climate change are:

1 – Risk mitigation: Boards of nonprofits need to provide oversight and accountability in relation to how climate change is built into their organisation’s strategy and thinking. Assessing risk is about identifying whichassets of the organisation may be exposed to risk; the particular risks to which those assets may be exposed; and the possible impacts of such exposure.

An organisation may be functioning smoothly at present, but as Covid-19 has shown us, circumstances can change and an NPO could find itself in a precarious situation. It is vital for management and the Board to be attentive to both internal and external environments, and areas of risk, and to take precautions.

2 – Responsible investing: It is timeous for NPOs to review where they place their investments. Collectively, where nonprofits invest their money makes a difference in the world. Identify responsible investment strategies and practices that fit your organisational culture, and are congruent with ethical investing in the space in which your NPO operates.

Consider withdrawing investments from areas where there is incompatibility. The Inyathelo Board, advised by its Finance Sub-Committee and financial investors, resolved in December 2020 to divest from fossil fuel, alcohol and tobacco holdings. These securities were sold during the 2021 financial year.

3 – Educate stakeholders: There is a need to inform and educate staff, managers and Board members on the impact of climate change. Empowering your people will equip them to make informed decisions and take purposeful action concerning the organisation and its programmes.

4 – Ensure internal sustainability: Donors who support non-profits in the climate education and advocacy sector wish to fund NPOs that are well-governed, financially robust, and have a high success rate in meeting targets on time. In short, NPOs  need to be sustainable themselves if they are to make a meaningful impact over the long term.

Inyathelo teaches an integrated approach, known as Advancement, to position an organisation to attract funding support. The ten elements of Advancement are leadership, governance, strategy and planning, financial management, fundraising, human capacity, relationship building, monitoring and evaluation, voice and visibility.

5 – Prepare for COP27: Africa hosts the 27th climate summit next year, at Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea in Egypt. This leaves only 12 months for NPOs to plan and prepare on how to contribute and make an impact.

“Our planet is in crisis, and NPOs need to both adapt internally, and step up and play a part as catalysts for change,” says Inyathelo Executive Director Nazeema Mohamed. “Risk assessment, responsible investing, education, sustainability and strategic planning will position them to contribute in a meaningful way.”