Treehuggers, Please Meet the Barbarians at the Gate

What Environmental Philanthropists Can Learn From Wall Street Investors

The Quick Rundown:

The Instigator champions private sector-led environmental strategies. We also argue that better environmental outcomes are achieved when business collaborates with non-profit organizations. Environmental NGOs need to be well-funded to perform at the highest level.  Let’s explore what philanthropists can learn from the way Wall Street investors allocate capital.


A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients from his eponymous Earth Fund. The grants totaled nearly $800 million distributed across 16 nonprofit groups, including The Nature Conservancy, which I once led. It got me thinking about how the richest man in the world — one who built his fortune on data, metrics, and shrewd allocations of capital — might structure these new relationships. 

Now, I don’t know anything more than the public about the specifics of Bezos’s funding, but I do have experience being on the receiving end of philanthropic investments from my time at TNC. And I can say that, after spending most of my career in the business world, what I saw surprised me. 

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