The Pisces Foundation is a California-centric green funder giving to water, climate, and environmental education. Here are some key things to know about its few huge, and several small, grants for climate and energy.
Pisces was formed from the wealth of Bob Fisher, one of three heirs and a director of the Gap clothing empire, who also happens to be a big-time environmentalist who spent more than 20 years on the board of NRDC. Bob Fisher and his wife Randi Fisher cofounded the foundation, which these days gives about $8.5 million a year strictly to the environment, with one of three focuses on Climate & Energy.
We spent some time analyzing Pisces’ giving, and have a few key insights to share on this San Francisco-based funder’s approach:
1. Pisces is mainly about water. Climate change is important to this funder, but water is its keenest interest. After all, Bob Fisher and Pisces Executive Director David Beckman cofounded the NRDC’s national water program in 2008. And Pisces cofounded the California Water Foundation, an initiative of Resources Legacy Fund dedicated to water resources. All that said, climate and water issues are increasingly entwined these days in places being hit hard by drought.
2. Pisces gives only a handful of large (but also several small) grants. The Energy Foundation, the passthrough funder developed by the biggest foundations in climate work, is the centerpiece of Pisces’ climate giving, receiving as much as $750,000 annually. Conservation International, where Fisher sits on the board, receives $1 million a year (not earmarked for climate, but CI is active in the realm). Aside from a few other large grantees in each program, there’s a big drop off.
However, Pisces does give a total of 50 grants a year, including several smaller grants of $10,000 and below. Climate change and energy pops up in several of these.
3. It puts an emphasis on one type of pollutant. The climate program states that it’s really gunning for what’s known as “short-lived climate pollutants,” meaning black carbon, methane, HFCs, and ground-level ozone. While CO2 is the big long-term threat to climate, these nasty particulates have a huge near-term impact, and cause various other health and agriculture problems.