As a membership organization, EGA has always made excellent member service a key goal. This commitment has been embodied in the vibrant events, projects, and publications inspired by member needs and requests. EGA provides a number of opportunities for grantmakers to network and to stay informed on environmental issues. EGA also helps members connect through the website, which is regularly updated with news, publications, job postings and event announcements. EGA has a regularly published online journal, blog, and twitter account to keep members informed.
From its inception, EGA has offered its members the ability to meet and discuss a range of environmental issues and funding approaches. Over the years, EGA has organized small and large events across the country to help its members learn, share, network, and collaborate.
EGA Annual Fall Retreat
The annual Fall Retreat is EGA’s hallmark event. It assists grantmakers in learning about issues, collaborating on projects, and sharing information. It also allows environmental philanthropists to increase their effectiveness, through heightened collaboration thus providing a more strategic role for funders in the growing environmental movement. The Retreat invites funders from a variety of environmental sectors to discuss obstacles and opportunities and potential partnerships between the philanthropic, public, and private sectors.
Past Retreat keynote speakers include Honorable Al Gore, Wangari Maathai, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Paul Krugman, Hunter Lovins, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Dr. Sylvia Earle.
EGA Policy Briefings
EGA hosts federal, state, and regional policy briefings. The Federal Policy Briefing is held in Washington, DC every other year. In the alternating years is EGA’s State of the States policy briefing, which is held in various locations across America. Regional Policy Briefings tend to focus on a particular issue or set on interrelated issues and are driven by members’ requests. The purpose of all policy briefings are to provide grantmakers with a better understanding of upcoming actions and politics affecting the environment and to create a shared space that will allow funders to communicate, strategize, collaborate, plan, and network.
Recent policy briefing keynote speakers have included Assistant to the President Carol M. Browner, Administrator Lisa M. Jackson, Chairman James L. Oberstar, Representative Edward Markey, former Governor Howard Dean, and Governor Duvall Patrick.
EGA hosts a webinar – a conference call with materials shared simultaneously online – at least once a month. Anywhere between a handful and hundreds of funders have participated in calls ranging from international climate negotiations, options to rebuild after natural and man-made disasters, creating the new economy, and specific issue areas.
In addition to convening funders, EGA produces materials to seed and enhance discussions and understanding among members as well as to provide resources to help facilitate their work. These publications are delivered through a limited print edition as well as electronically via the EGA website.
Tracking the Field
This is an ongoing research-based initiative that monitors trends in environmental philanthropy, using foundations’ 990 filings. The first report was released in 2007, and listed the foundations and total grants by issue area as well as other useful information. Tracking the Field, Volume 2: A Closer Look at Environmental Grantmaking was released in 2009, and also included data on non-EGA members, examined the distribution of grants geographically, listed top grant recipients, and provided additional targeted research.
EGA will release Tracking the Field Volume III in the fall of 2011, and will examine how environmental grantmaking has evolved since the most recent economic downturn, as well as a secondary issue area for more detailed analyses. The third volume will also include a secured interactive database, which will allow members to search grants by the region affected by the grant, issue area, and foundation to better facilitate collaboration among EGA members.
EGA publishes targeted primers, white papers and reports on a range of existing and emerging topics and strategies. They often highlight best practices, identify gaps and feature innovation in the field. These are often introductory and cross-sector primers with a larger resource section for those that want to dig deeper. In the past, EGA has written papers on the funding landscape of environmental education, philanthropy and the solar market, funding strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, the intersection of climate change with non-environmental philanthropic issue areas.
Global Engagement was selected as strategic priority theme for EGA to pursue and highlight in programming. The broad goal is to better weave in global themes and information to highlight the international and interconnected nature of environmental challenges. The desired outcomes are to give members better access to information on how global issues impact their work, through core EGA programming and new programming when possible.
The broad goals of the Constituency Building thematic priority are to strengthen the environmental movement by identifying common interests and shared priorities with four priority “non-environmental” constituencies – civic engagement, faith, health, and national security. The desired outcomes include strategic use of money, collective strategies, policy agenda/s for strategic alliances, as well as research, analysis, programming and tools development that deepen knowledge and build trust and relationships to make our work more effective.