Quartet Community Foundation recognises the growing climate emergency and the need to take positive climate action at a local level. We are taking responsibility for reducing our own carbon footprint across our operations and investments, increasing funding for environmental work and engaging the communities we work with.
We have signed up to the Association of Charitable Foundation’s Funder Commitment on Climate Change which commits us to action in the following areas:
Taking action on climate change is a key strand of our strategy for 2022-25. In 2021 we published our Vital Signs report ‘Climate and Communities’ which set out the urgent need for us all to do more to tackle climate change. The report has helped us and the people we work with understand the likely impacts of climate change on the West of England.
In 2022 we asked our fund holders about their funding priorities and 63% agreed that philanthropy should increase its support for climate resilience. To aid this, we have liaised with others to offer guidance to groups applying for funding on how they can design their projects to be more environmentally friendly.
We have committed to increasing our support for climate and nature-recovery work. This includes the funding we distribute, the time we dedicate to engaging with the issues and the procurement choices we make as an organisation.
Analysis by the Environmental Funders Network showed that as a whole, charitable foundations in the UK gave around 6% of their total funding in 2018/19 to environment-related causes (up from 4% in 2015/16).
We calculated that in the ten years from April 2011 to March 2021, around 5% of our grant-making total had gone towards climate and environment-related projects. Since then, working with donors, we’ve run grant programmes dedicated to this theme, such as the Bath & West Community Energy Fund, Wessex Water Community Fund and Megawatt Community Energy Grant.
We’ve also focused on support for environmental work through Quartet’s own Sector Development Grant Programme. Since 2022, almost £120k of funding has gone towards strategic support for climate sector organisations and collaborative work. This includes grants for Bristol Energy Network to maintain and extend its work supporting VCSE sector organisations to be more energy efficient; core support for Bristol Food Network to champion sustainable local food systems; and support for VCSE sector organisations in South Gloucestershire to engage with climate change and nature recovery (see below).
The figures show our support in this area has already increased to an average of 6.5% of our grant-making over the last two financial years, and we are committed to doing more.
It’s important to us that consideration for the environment is fully integrated into all we do at Quartet. We have a climate action plan that spans all areas of our organisation, and we are finding ways to enhance our understanding so that we can give good advice to philanthropists and make good decisions when distributing funding.
The committees that advise and govern our work are fully engaged with climate change and nature recovery, and we are making good progress at integrating new changes and ideas. As standard, our grant programmes make clear that we welcome applications that consider the environment, either through positive climate action or through reducing any negative impacts. Our new webpage of guidance for groups is helping integrate climate considerations across all of our funding programmes.
A key point of progress in our commitment has been to review and update our investment policy, so that the approximately £60m held in our endowment fund is working for climate and nature recovery and not against it. We have a responsibility to get good returns for our fund holders and for community groups in need of support. But this does not mean investing in ways that will harm us all in the long run.
Our endowment fund is managed in accordance with the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, which integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the investment process. Our new investment policy reflects our responsibility to do what we can to limit climate change, supporting the ambition for carbon neutrality by 2030 that is held by each of the local authority areas we serve. It is a complex field and that is why we keep our investment policy and portfolio under regular review.
Quartet is lucky to own our building, Royal Oak House, providing a home for ourselves and a hub for other charity organisations. We had help to carry out a detailed audit of the environmental impact of our own operation and our building as whole. We’ve come out of the audit with a long list of small and big changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint and have a positive environmental impact.
Some of these changes are easier to make than others, especially because we do not want to create any financial or other burden on the other organisations that share our building. But we have already made some important changes like switching to green energy, changing our procurement approach and working with suppliers to understand their supply chains. We have reduced the number of paper copies of the publications we produce, switching to a preference for digital publication. We are planning measures to make best use of resources within our building, such as installing energy efficient lighting as the old units come to the end of their life.
We will keep updating this page as we review our progress and report on our commitments. Do check back here for updates and get in touch if you have ideas for other actions we can take.
Our Sector Development Grant Programme is supporting an exciting new partnership with £40,000 over two years. CVS South Gloucestershire, Southern Brooks Community Partnership and South Gloucestershire Council, who are part-funding the project, will work together to ensure that community work across South Gloucestershire is engaged with climate change and nature recovery. Groups will be supported to take a climate lens to their own organisations and work, to access peer-learning from climate-focused groups and to benefit from the expertise of South Gloucestershire Council’s climate team. This ambitious project will join resources, knowledge and expertise and embed climate thinking across the VCSE sector.
Re:Work is a charity combatting poverty in South Bristol. They received a grant of £4,000 from the Megawatt Community Energy Fund to develop training and advice sessions for people living in fuel poverty. The sessions are giving residents of Filwood the tools to make their homes more energy efficient and cheaper to heat.
Bath Share and Repair received funding of £4,801 from the Bath & West Community Energy Fund toward their Carbon Footprint Project, helping primary school children learn how to repair, reduce and reuse to decrease their carbon emissions. The project will reach around 1,000 children in schools across South Bath, an area with a high carbon footprint per person.
Bath City Farm is a welcoming urban farm, using its unique setting to boost health and well-being, teach people new skills and improve environmental awareness. The farm received a grant of £5,000 toward a new air source heat pump, replacing an old system that had broken down, putting their operations and services at risk. The air source heat pump is an affordable and reliable energy source that reduces the Farm’s carbon footprint and provides efficient energy for the Farm’s future.
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