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Unlocking Climate Philanthropy: Insights from Littlefoot Ventures with Eva Goulbourne on the Giving Intelligence Podcast

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The following is a transcript from the Giving Intelligence Podcast with Mitchell Kraus, featuring our Founder & CEO, Eva Goulbourne.


Mitchell Kraus: Welcome to Giving Intelligence, a podcast dedicated to exploring the impact of leading nonprofits and the meaningful ways to support their mission. Join us as we delve into the stories of organizations making a difference all around the world, where we learn about the challenges they face and the innovative solutions they bring to the table. With a focus on effective giving, we’ll also be discussing the importance of making well thought out charitable. While writing a check can do a lot of good, there are often more effective ways to give. Whether you’re an experienced philanthropist or just looking to make a difference, giving intelligence is your guide to making the most of your giving in your community.


MK: On this episode of Giving Intelligence, I interview Eva Goulbourne of Littlefoot Ventures. As a change to our normal format. Eva is not working currently at a nonprofit, but she is a consultant to many nonprofits and grant makers across the country. We discuss her background in food systems and how they translate to the work she does today to use her knowledge of these systems to help protect all of us from climate change. We talk about some steps that we can all take, whether we run a big foundation or just have a few dollars to donate in order to help feed the world and make it better for future generations. Hello, listeners. I am so happy that this episode we are doing something different. We have Eva Goulbourne, who’s a consultant to the nonprofit realm.

She was referred to me because she’s getting her chartered advisor in philanthropy, which we’ll go into a little bit later. But looking at her website, talking to her a little bit, there’s so much more I wanted to learn, and I thought it would be great to share with all you listeners. So, Eva, welcome to the podcast.


Eva Goulbourne: Thank you so much for having me, Mitchell. I really appreciate it. I’m excited to be here.


MK: Can you tell me a little bit about Littlefoot Ventures, your organization and its mission?


EG: Littlefoot Ventures is my food systems and sustainability consultancy, where, in addition to nonprofits, I service every and all stakeholder in the food supply chain with the ultimate goal and function to use food systems transformation as our climate mitigation solution. So a lot of the work that I do sits very tightly at the nexus between food systems work and agriculture and CPG and packaging, and then also how we use this really important food system to address the climate crisis and reducing global temperatures by 2%.


MK: Great. I think a lot of people who listen to this podcast know a lot about a little and a little bit about a lot. But can you help describe food systems and what that means and a big overall picture?


EG: In the work that I do, and I think maybe what is exciting and relevant for this audience, too. I work specifically with nonprofits who, for example, are food focused in their work. And so on the philanthropy side, that means working with them on how do you tell the right story, or how do you elevate the story of your impact to connect with the right funders in the space? And then the inverse of that with philanthropists who may be interested in food systems. And to be clear, too, that could be everything from reducing food waste and reducing food loss. That could be a soup kitchen or a nonprofit that’s focused on food recovery or snap benefits or improving nutrition in public schools. It really can be a variety of different components.

And so working with nonprofits on that side, working with philanthropists who may be writing that check to their local food pantry or local organization that’s giving food away, which is a wonderful sort of philanthropic opportunity, but also encouraging them to think with a real strategy around the impact work that they’re doing in food, because, as we know, everybody needs to eat. There’s a huge disparity in health and nutrition and huge impacts on our agricultural system from extreme climate events. So it really is an area that I think, especially in philanthropy, is important to consider.


MK: So this is everything from starting with the ground before anything is planted up to the waste at the end of the day, and everything in between. Is that correct?


EG: Exactly. I just had a call yesterday where we’re talking about robotics in strawberry fields to improve yield and reduce loss, and having conversations about date labeling policy, the dates that go on your yogurt and your milk in your fridge and stuff like that, to creating upcycled products from off spec fruits and vegetables. So it really does run the gamut with the work that I do.


MK: Well, you brought up a sensitive subject in our household with food labeling, with the dates. I treat it as a guideline, and my wife treats it as an absolute rule. And sometimes there’s items that I want to eat. So I’m sure we’re not the only household with that problem.


EG: Absolutely. There is a huge amount of at home food loss and food waste that happens because of confusion around those date labels and I think it’s scientifically proven that every marriage has one person who lives and dies by the date label and the other person who’s always willing to risk it. I’m with you on this one, always just use the smell test and always go for risking it. But that’s for another podcast.


MK: What inspired you to get involved with food systems transformation. And, really, what keeps you motivated?


EG: My whole professional career has been spent in some interface with food. When I graduated from university, I worked for financial education and financial services nonprofit that was funded by the Mastercard Foundation and Nike Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the time. We were working on financial literacy for tobacco farmers in Malawi and it was this very interesting. Tobacco is obviously not a food product, but it is an agricultural product and it was my sort of foray into understanding a little bit more about this interaction and the need for agricultural laborers and this larger system.


Then, my boyfriend at the time, now husband, was transferred to New York. I had ten days to find a job in the big bad city of New York, moving from DC, and landed myself on the food security and agriculture team at the World Economic Forum, which is a large, global, international organization focused on, really all industries and most people know it for the big wake event that happens in Davos, and CEOs and heads of state coming together across a lot of different industries. My work was seeing the power of those leaders when they’re focused on commodities, when they’re focused on fertilizer, land, different types of investments in our agricultural system.  I feel like I got a really unique peek into a global echelon of systems thinking that most people don’t get to sort of peek into. From there, shockingly felt like, okay, that was a great experience.

I Spent almost five years there, and then stumbled my way into a family office that was researching food waste and they had this big report. This was Mission Point Partners and Jesse and Betsy Fink and their family foundation, exploring this topic of food waste, being amazing philanthropists, and really avantgarde in their approach, they realized we could do research about this to benefit our own investments and our own philanthropy, or we could bring along other foundations and other philanthropic entities and nonprofits and really try to help people understand the value and opportunity around food waste. So that was when we established ReFED, which is now proud to say the leading organization focused on us, food waste and beyond.

I got to be employee number one of that nonprofit, and again got that interface with philanthropy in that working both with a family office and foundations to support it, and then starting to write grants to actually create and sustain this amazing organization. Then, I got pregnant with my first child, and all of a sudden I was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to be doing even more.”

So, to your original question, what motivates me: my children and the fact that I’ve now been in the food system space my whole 17 year professional career. I feel like Littlefoot, and even the name is an ode to the little feet that I was growing inside of me at the time, is where I have this increased urgency to do more and leave this legacy of change for my children and for yours. And it really came over me in such an intense way that literally, Littlefoot was born the next day, and that was six years ago.


MK: So you have this great background of working for worldwide to more regional areas, and now you have this consulting firm that you’re working on and trying to balance a family, which is always tough. But can you share a success story or a particular client that our listeners could really understand the work that you do?


EG: I think one really good example, especially since we just finished out the Super Bowl, I was hired by Unilever, which is the parent company to Hellmann’s. That was a really interesting project, because the intersection and interest in my work for them was around my food waste expertise and the work that I do specifically around that, and because I have this philanthropy flavor and systems level flavor to the work that I do, ended up working with them on their original Make Taste, Not Waste campaign. The reason why I mentioned the Super Bowl is because it’s the fourth year that Hellmann’s has been doing a Make Taste, Not Waste commercial that launched at the Super Bowl this year.

They created a new holiday, like a “sick day” for after the Super Bowl, to recapture and ensure that all the leftovers from the big game are appropriately saved. So several years ago, I started to support them on some of the technical aspects of their food waste work. As part of that, they were giving a lot of philanthropic dollars to organizations in the space and I thought that was amazing, that’s exactly what an organization and a brand this large should be doing, but really wanted to challenge them further; where you could give to that organization and write that check and solve for a band aid solution, or you could think about putting those philanthropic dollars towards. You’re already putting all this work and money into the Super bowl campaign. You’re putting all of this effort into this communications around reducing food waste. Let’s also have those philanthropic dollars not be just this random tendril of checks being written on the side, but actually have a more systematic approach to both the marketing work and the philanthropy work. So, we rejiggered their philanthropy strategy to be much more systems focused in the organizations that they were giving to and now, in turn, has allowed for some really great organizations to continue to do their work at a level that wouldn’t have been possible before.


MK: So what I hear is that you get to work with some big corporations and help them give wisely, because it’s very important not only just to give, which is the first step, and it’s a great step in financial planning. A dollar saved earning a bad interest rate is still a lot more money than not a dollar saved. But then, as you just said, Unilever was giving money to sort of randomly out there, and you were able to focus them.


EG: And I think one of the things for your audience, too, that I think is valuable is there is this moment right now in corporate philanthropy and, generally, in CSR, where corporates understand that their social impact is as important as their financial impact. And we’ve seen so many brands sort of rise and fall by social movements and that sort of thing. And so I think this is a really unique moment for corporate philanthropy to really think about how they integrate those dollars into the greater impact of their business operations and for individuals, whether they’re multi billion dollar philanthropists or just know middle America.


MK: What are some of the lessons that you could take from that example in Unilever and some of your other work that these donors might want to think about when they’re donating to food related causes?


EG: That’s such a good question. And it doesn’t matter whether you have $100 million philanthropy budget or you’re giving $500 away. I think one thing for this audience to really take away is if you are interested, which I hope people are, is leveraged impact, meaning having your dollar really possibly have the impact of $1 being $100 or $1,000, is to really think about food and climate as giving areas just by the natural, integrated, and hyper complex nature of them. It really is an area that needs the philanthropic support more than ever in food-related causes.

I think it’s important for people to ideally make that distinction between, and I don’t want to say band aid solutions in any derogatory way, but thinking about different solutions around food that are fixing problems that are sort of never ending and will sort of always be there, versus trying to invest in philanthropic organizations and nonprofits that are really trying to change the system. An example of that would be the Chef Ann Foundation, a client of mine, and an amazing organization that is focused on improving child nutrition by creating technical assistance and support for scratch cooking in schools. You’re a parent, I’m a parent. You think about.

There’s all of these universal school meal programs that are rolling out state by state, which in theory is amazing, but the packaged food companies are either high salt, high sugar, high plastic use food service operators can move right into those opportunities. If there isn’t the philanthropic dollars and support provided to school systems, be able to actually say, hold on a second, we’re going to do things in house. We’re going to make things from scratch, we’re going to make sure that the nutritional value is there. And giving money to an organization like that’s really trying to change the system, I think is really unique and important to think about.


MK: So, Eva, what I’m hearing, and tell me if I’m right, that there’s a lot of nonprofits in the food space, but maybe more than any other space out there, when you’re looking at nonprofits, how much a difference a dollar going to a bad one versus a good one could be is huge. Is that right?


EG: I would say maybe good and bad probably isn’t the fair framing in that all of these organizations are doing such critical work. I think it’s just important for a philanthropist to decide very consciously, am I going to give to an organization that solves for an immediate need like getting food to people today? There’s this opportunity to move something that’s going to be wasted today in this moment, which has to be clear, incredible value, and having an opinion about organizations that take a much more systemic approach, like a chef Ann foundation, like a ReFED, that are trying to do things more around changing the system. And neither is good or bad. I think it’s more just a matter of knowing that those two types exist and to think about how you want your dollars to interact with them.


MK: I think you made a good point that good and bad were probably the wrong terms. But all these organizations have certain different types of impact, and some of those impacts might be shorter term, and some of those impacts might be longer term. For a philanthropist or anybody who wants to give understanding why they’re giving to an organization and what they do, and whether it’s a short term band aid or a long term solution is probably worthwhile. And if your biggest concern is that the people down the street from you can’t eat, that might be a very different donation than looking at the whole system. And neither of it’s better or worse., they’re just different. Is that right?


EG: Right. And I think just adding on that, too, the understanding that in a perfect world, if we change the system, we won’t have friends, colleagues, neighbors, communities that are so food insecure. So it’s sort of a different tool in the toolbox to attack the same problem from a slightly different way. And I think one other thing to just mention, too, for philanthropic entities who are interested in either food and climate, again, talking about this idea of leveraged impact, we know based on the science that food waste, for example, reducing food waste at scale, is the number one solution to reduce global temperatures by the necessary two degrees Celsius that we need. So if you are a climate philanthropist or even interested in that work, it behooves you to look at food and behooves you to look at food waste. And in turn, if you are focused on food, to understand that these solutions have a really leveraged climate impact as well, which I just think is really exciting.


MK: That’s wonderful. Thank you. So, as I mentioned in the beginning that I’m a chartered advisor in philanthropy, that I have seven industry designations, and by far that’s my favorite, because I get to work with clients. I like to tell my clients I’m never going to give away a billion dollars, but I think I can help others do it. So can you tell me, you started the program? Can you tell me a little bit about what you’re getting out of it?


EG: I agree with, I mean, I don’t have seven other accreditations, but I have been enjoying this. And maybe even to back up and mention, too, the reason why I even thought to pursue something like that was I have gotten all of my experience and expertise from working directly in nonprofits, writing the grants, writing the budgets, understanding where the dollars go, working on the programs, and then in turn have sort of been able to peek into this other echelon of high net worth individuals and philanthropists and seen how critical it is for them to be informed about these opportunities in the food space.

I felt like I had a little bit of this language barrier almost, where I was like, I know a lot about nonprofits and I have tons of opinions and ideas about the amazing work that should be supported. In the CAP program, it’s almost allowed one, obviously, a certain degree of credibility, because people who work in philanthropy and nonprofit can get there from so many different avenues. I think what’s been valuable to me is really learning that other dialect, the dialect of the philanthropist, and really understanding and empathizing with the origin of their legacy, planning, and sort of how they come into thinking about their own strategy. I’m excited. Once I complete the program, it might be no surprise for me to add the food flavor to their work as well within that. I found the CAP program to be really helpful in sort of leveling up the philanthropy dialect, if you will.


MK: I think the great thing about the CAP program, it takes people from all sorts of different backgrounds and puts them sort of in the room together and understanding everybody’s language. Financial advisor, an attorney, a nonprofit funder, a nonprofit donor, a nonprofit executive can all be in the same room and really have that common conversation, which is the only way things get done. And we spent a lot of time already talking about the good work you’re doing with various organizations to make a change. Can you give an example of some success stories, one or two, about how philanthropists have contributed positively to food systems?


EG: Oh, gosh, there are so many good ones, but the first one that comes to mind that, gratefully, I was able to sort of have a direct play in was smaller family foundation that had been, and I think this is pretty common, had been giving checks to amazing local food related organizations within their geographic area. They had started to dabble into the food waste space after realizing, like, oh, if I’m focused on food security, food waste solutions make sense. If I’m focused on community building, food waste solutions make sense. If I’m focused on environment, food waste solutions make sense. So they had started to be evangelized, if you will, into that realization that reducing food waste really is one of those leverage impact areas.

I worked with them to explain, look, you already get it in terms of the value of this specific area. Let’s create a strategic giving framework that allows you to do that much more systematically. We worked together on their strategic framework of giving, very specific to the food waste world, helping them sort of understand the nuances and different solution areas within that. And then that resulted in 13 nonprofit organizations ultimately being funded by the RFP that they put out. It was all because they, thankfully, had totally gotten it in terms of this being an area where, even though they’re a smaller foundation, they can have a way more leveraged impact if they focus on food waste reduction. It unlocked $1million+ for over a dozen organizations that they may not have otherwise given to.


MK: Wow, that’s really a little time. A little research on how you give and where you give can make a big difference. Do you know, if this foundation was sort of giving out the same way as they always had in the past?


EG: They had never done it that way, so it also had emboldened them to, and because they were small. I think this is common for a lot of the smaller foundation, like family foundations, too. It’s usually only one full time employee. Sometimes they work on the family office side and on the foundation side, so they don’t have time to research all of these different organizations or research all of these topic areas, and may be intimidating for them to do an open RFP and open invitation process because then they’re on the hook, obviously, to review all of those applications and they may not feel confident sort of what they’re looking for, So they’d rather just sort of give as they want.

I really encouraged them to think about open the doors, go for the RFP, invite people into this space, allow yourselves to learn about the amazing organizations working on this work. And they went for it. Not only was it a benefit to the space for them to give their financial contributions, but they learned a lot about the value that they provide as not only just a financial giver, but in terms of additional support and strategic insight along the way for their grantees.


MK: I think that what you’re talking about with some of even a smaller foundation and large foundations can give great lessons to everyday donors to ask the questions of what you’re looking to do and why you’re trying to do it, and look for resources. And if you’re a small foundation, you might have a little bit of staff or some people to help. We found great times with a lot of our clients just having family meetings and talking to everybody about where they want to give and getting that input from each child, each grandchild. What’s important, why it’s important. And you can create those values among family and great conversation pieces about money.

That might not be the taboo part about money because you’re talking about charitable giving and not the family wealth or how you’re paying your bills or something, and I think it’s also some great, one of the resources I also always look at when I’m looking for effective charities is University of Pennsylvania, Penn center for High Impact Philanthropy. And somebody who doesn’t have a lot of time on their hand, they create a report of some high impact, and you can look at the organizations of the type of organizations you’re looking at, and they can give you some questions to ask and some recommendations.

So if you’re taking care of your kids and you’re working full time and maybe taking care of your parents, and we’re in a busy life right now, there are a lot of resources and just a little bit of time can really help you make that really transformative difference.


EG: I think that’s absolutely true.


MK: To finish up, can you tell me about any upcoming initiatives or projects that you and Littlefoot are working on?


EG: Yes, my favorite question so far. So one of the things that hopefully you and others take away from this story today is my work focuses around food and climate. I, a one and a half woman team, very lean in terms of the consulting work that I do. On the one hand, I’ve been very privileged in being able to work for very large companies and nonprofits and foundations, but I have sort of come up against this realization that it’s so hard to scale as effectively a one woman show. And in the philanthropic world, sometimes organizations may not be able to pay for somebody like me or for additional support in some of these areas where they really need that strategic level of guidance to go for the right climate dollars.

If they’re a nonprofit or if they’re a philanthropist, give to the really high leveraged impact nonprofits working in food. So I have launched Littlefoot Academy, and our first course is on climate philanthropy, Climate Messaging Mastery for Food Nonprofits. It’s a six week experience to help food focused nonprofits unlock the ever increasing climate dollars. I’ll be taking [participants] through a very specific experience and very practical examples of how we take a narrative and a grant proposal that worked very well for food philanthropists who really sort of get it in terms of the food impact, but then shifting that narrative a little bit to help both the nonprofit and climate philanthropists understand that they’re part of this whole other solution set as a gleaning organization that now we realize this is also valuable for climate.

So really helping to, at scale, offer my services in a way that allows organizations to learn faster and do it in a way where day one they’re getting practical skills, they’re working on their actual real fundraising budgets, and we’re actually working through real-time grant opportunities. I’m also pre-vetting climate philanthropists for them in real-time as a way to just hop, skip and jump to addressing the climate crisis.


MK: Sounds like you’re putting together people with money and people with needs and changing the world one bite at a time.


EG: Exactly. Slowly but surely. I’m really excited about that. Anyone focused or interested in food or on climate, I hope they’ll join me for what I hope to be a really special and unique experience and really impactful for people.


MK: And that’s an online class so people can take it from anywhere?


EG: Yes.


MK: Wonderful. Eva, it’s been so nice getting to know you and all the great work you’re doing for the climate, for the world, for all us world citizens and for the environment. It’s a great combination and it’s wonderful to talk to somebody who can give some ideas besides the nonprofit side and who’s worked on both sides. So I appreciate your time and I wish you luck and I hope you get a good amount of attendance at your academy.


EG: Thank you. I really appreciate it. Mitchell, thanks for the opportunity.


MK: To get in touch with Eva, please visit her website, For more information on how to integrate a more comprehensive philanthropic strategy into your financial plan and wealth management process, or if you’re a nonprofit that is looking to have Mitchell speak to your board about effective giving, please visit

Eva Goulbourne and Littlefoot Ventures are not affiliated with or endorsed by LPL Financial or Capital Intelligence associates.

Individual tax and legal matters should be discussed with your tax or legal professional. Mitchell Krause is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL financial member FINRa SIPC securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor member, FINRa SIPC. The opinions voiced in this podcast are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified like professionals prior to making a decision.