For large corporations like Amazon, the most obvious answer to their climate-conscious problem comes in the form of carbon credits. They are an easy, reliable way to offset the mountain of emissions that they produce every year. Recently, there have been questions on how impactful the carbon credits market is. However, Swedish nonprofit, Milkywire, has developed an alternative solution that ensures that the money being spent is truly making a difference.
The company was founded by former wildlife photographer Nina Siemiatkowski in 2018, but her venture into environmentalism really began during a project to Kenya, where she photographed an endangered pride of lions between 2012 and 2016. During that time, she saw the need for support for the small nonprofits that safeguard these endangered animals and become stewards for a natural world actively being ravaged by a changing climate. She was shocked to find the technology that often was the lifeline for these small climate-conscious organizations was rarely up to date, making it even more difficult for these relatively unknown organizations to receive funding. Because of this, the lack of transparency from these organizations was quite poor.
The team at Milkywire developed a carefully cultivated list of environmental organizations they call their climate transformation portfolio. As of July 2021, this portfolio supports over 50 different organizations, and that number is quickly growing. The portfolio is screened to ensure that each of the grassroots organizations is “trusted and effective people doing hands-on work out in the field.”
They also make sure donors have the ability to directly communicate with the nonprofits, which is something most nonprofits don’t offer.
While all of the organizations they support work within the realm of environmental conservation, they support a myriad of causes across the globe. They range from projects that promote coral reef growth to saving rainforests to protecting endangered species that are vital to the ecosystems that they call home. For the organizations doing nonprofit work, Milkywire supports them through donations, and for the cleantech startups they sponsor, the money goes to CO2 removal at a rate much higher than normal carbon credit marketplaces in order to facilitate the growth of these fledgling organizations.
So often, the important work done by these up-and-coming organizations goes under the radar, and it often is due to the systems in place that help bring a spotlight to their work. Siemiatkowski says that these businesses are “punished by the algorithm” because they don’t have the digital presence necessary to keep up. In this way, Milkywire is quite different from other crowdfunding and philanthropy organizations because they actively empower the organizations they represent by giving them the tools to become successful in the marketplace.
Their own brand has received quite a boost as well. Swedish fintech giant, Klarna has chosen Milkywire as their strategic partner for their forward-thinking project Give One. The project pledges to give 1% of their recent $1 billion of funding to charitable organizations committed to bringing about health to the planet globally. Milkywire will help Klarna allocate its $10 million to organizations that are able to make the most impact. Klarna Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström spoke highly of the partnership, saying, “Milkywire is our strategic partner for Give One and the ideal partner for Klarna as we aim to simplify the act of doing good for the climate and biodiversity,” and continues by remarking that “while Klarna has focused on simplifying the world of payments across the world, Milkywire is disrupting the giving space by bringing tech to support civil society projects around the world.”
Milkywire opens up new doors to companies that are committed to making a real difference in the environment instead of ones like that carbon credits marketplace, whose efficacy is sometimes questionable. Milkywire climate advisor Robert Höglund points out that “even when they are effective, [companies] are sort of leading a race to the bottom to find as cheap acceptable credits as possible, just in order to be able to make a claim. We want to incentivize companies to contribute to climate action, but to do it in a way that is both credible and impactful.”
Milkywire is creating a hub for climate-conscious organizations who are looking to do good in the world and showing that it is not just about the facade of the company or their carefully cultivated Instagram account, but about the real people putting in the work to bring about real change.