Tackling Overconsumption Funder Survey: the first project of the new IF4SL

Our February Funders for Sustainable Living Network workshop marked the official launch of the Innovation Fund for Sustainable Living (IF4SL) with an introduction to its first project “Funders Survey: Tackling Overconsumption”. The IF4SL is a new funder collaborative that undertakes projects in partnership with funders, civil society organisations and researchers with the aim of encouraging philanthropic action to tackle overconsumption.

Consumption is a neglected “Cinderella Issue” in the environmental philanthropy sector, with recent estimates from the Environmental Funders Network tallying just £6-7 million going to consumption work globally in the last year (to put this in perspective, European foundations alone gave €1.6 billion in environmental grants in 2021). “One of the major drivers of environmental degradation is just a huge blind spot for funders,” says Florence Miller from the Environmental Funders Network.

So why are funders hesitant to invest in tackling overconsumption – is it perhaps due to a lack of convincing projects, a reluctance to work on changing how we live, or the difficulty of addressing such deeply embedded systems? We hope to answer this question and “take the pulse” of the environmental philanthropy sector with regard to overconsumption with the first project of the IF4SL: a sector-wide survey of foundation staff, leaders and boards, to gather baseline data on perceptions of current levels of consumption and its relationship to environmental and biodiversity collapse. The survey has been developed by Hot or Cool Institute and The Hour is Late in collaboration with Oak Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation and the Environmental Funders Network, and is supported by many foundations and funder networks. Our launch session introduced the survey to our Funders for Sustainable Living Network (F4SL), to get a sense of how the sector might respond.

Participants noted both excitement and apprehension:

“I feel excited but expect that within my organisation there could be considerable resistance to (but also excitement about) discussions about overconsumption”

Concern was also expressed about the potential of this work to feed polarisation in the political sphere. How do we proceed, tactfully and ambitiously, in moving the needle on overconsumption?

“I feel, and am seeing and hearing nervous excitement: excited about the potential but nervous about possible counter-effects. That’s OK.”

Future F4SL workshops will explore these questions further, as we analyse the results of the survey to help the whole sector better navigate these uncharted waters.

If you work for a foundation or are an individual donor, please do take 20 minutes to participate in the survey and share your opinions about tackling overconsumption. If you are a grantee, please don’t complete the survey yourself, but instead encourage your funders to complete it. All responses will be treated as confidential and we will not attribute quotes to any individual when sharing the findings. This is not restricted to one person per organisation: we are interested in seeing the range of views held by staff, leaders and board members, and so encourage everyone to participate.

The survey can be completed anonymously, or there is an option to leave your contact details: this will allow us to send you the results directly and invite you to a webinar to share and discuss the findings.

For more information about Funders for Sustainable Living Network and the Innovation Fund for Sustainable Living, please contact f4sl@hotorcool.org.


Lauren Uba is a freelance facilitator for the Funders for Sustainable Living (F4SL), an open network promoting ambitious action for radically equitable and sustainable ways of living. It sounds depressing but it’s actually a lot of friendship and fun!

On Key

You may also be interested in...

Stay in the loop

Don’t miss out on news from the Hot or Cool Institute. Subscribe to receive updates on research, projects, and more.