Charities and the path to net zero

Climate change is no longer a fringe concern for charities. But how can charities journey towards net zero? Richard Sagar, Head of Policy at Charity Finance Group, introduces a series of articles that offer practical first steps on the path to net zero.


It is difficult to think of any charity or social change organisation for which climate change will not either directly or indirectly impact their communities.

This can no longer be a fringe concern, particularly for those who lead charities that exist to support the environment. If the voluntary sector is to maintain moral authority, all parts of it must play a role in moving towards net zero. 

In 2021, Charity Finance Group asked members and other charity leaders about their commitments to meet net zero in light of the Paris Agreement at COP26.

The results of that survey were not unsurprising. Eight out of ten of those who responded had not committed to a net zero policy.

This, we believe, was not due to apathy or lack of interest. Speaking to charity finance leaders we know that they are keen to do more to help mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. And it was pleasing that 20% of those charities had made progress on their net zero journey.

What came across loud and clear from the data we collected and the conversations we were having was that charities needed more support. There was a lack of information and practical guidance on how to turn pledges and intentions into real action and progress.

This was the catalyst for producing this guide: Charities and the path to net zero.

We understand that the journey to net zero will be different for different types of organisations. For example, those organisations that have many properties and large investment portfolios action will see that path very differently to a very small community-based charities that have no paid staff.

With this in mind, our guide covers many different aspects of net zero, as you'll see from the contents page here.

However, this guide is not the final say or authority on this matter. On the contrary, this is the starting point for our focus on net zero, as much as it is a starting point for those looking to take action. 

As ever, we will continue to work with members of the CFG community, and our sector and corporate partners, to share more knowledge and best practice. Do watch this space for more. There will be plenty of lessons to learn along the way.

In the meantime, we hope you find this collection of articles useful in setting out on your own journey towards net zero.

As our partners CCLA Investment Management point out in their article on investments:

'It is beyond time to do this’.


Richard Sagar
Head of Policy, CFG



1. Introduction from Richard Sagar, CFG

2. It's time to get real about ESG

3. Building a net zero strategy

4. Funding on a finite planet

5. Understanding energy consumption

6. Net zero and procurement part 1

Part 2: Steps to becoming verified carbon neutral

Part 3: What are scope 3 emissions? Why account for them?

7. Pensions and net zero part 1

Part 2: Risks and opportunities


Other links

Eight out of ten charities have not committed to net zero