Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Climate Change

OVERVIEW: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) approaches their fight against climate change by tackling biodiversity issues, restoring and preserving natural habitats, land conservation and energy development.

IP TAKE: DDCF invests in dynamic programs to fight climate change through habitat and ecosystem conservation. The foundation does not have a specific climate change program (its climate change initiative wound down in 2011). Related grants are awarded out of its Environment program.

PROFILE: Doris Duke was a very generous person throughout her life and when she died in 1993, she willed most of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which was established in 1996.

Doris Duke was a lifelong conservationist. The foundation's Environment Program reflects Duke’s commitment to environmental conservation and views climate change as the “greatest emerging threat to biodiversity.” The program awards grants out of its main areas of focus, including Land Conservation in an Era of Climate ChangeWildlife & Energy Development, and Strengthening the Conservation Field.

All of DDCF’s environmental grants have some type of connection to wildlife habitat conservation and management. The foundation gives pretty heavily to enabling communities nationwide not only to manage and protect wildlife habitats that have been threatened or depleted due to climate change, but also to create built environments that are energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable. The program also offers robust support to eco-conscious outfits that are protecting ecosystems and minimizing the harms posed by climate change.  

DDCF’s Wildlife & Energy grantmaking is perhaps the most pointed in regard to climate change. The program addresses energy sprawl by awarding grants to organizations that are promoting renewable energy development and those that are working to increase energy efficiency in the buildings sector.

The foundation does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry via its website; however, DDCF awards an extremely limited number of environmental grants per year. And while the few grants that are awarded tend to be pretty substantial, typically falling in the $500,000 to $1 million range, nearly all of those awards go toward huge environmental outfits, leaving little room for grassroots groups.