Legal Structure

The Legal Rights for Nature Funders Circle is structured as a US-based nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) (tax-deductible) designation.

US-based 501(c)(3) organizations can still make tax-deductible gifts to overseas organizations with some additional legwork to show they are for charitable purposes under US standards. Distributions to foreign charities are also treated as qualifying distributions under the private foundation minimum distribution rules. As necessary, the funders circle could also register as a UK-based charity or similar corporate structure within another country.

Big Picture Strategy

The Legal Rights for Nature Funders Circle will refine its specific vision, purpose, mission, scale strategy, and values in partnership with initial members as part of its strategic plan process. Nevertheless, this report provides some initial ideas of how to define these important baselines.


An inclusive and engaged network of purpose-driven individuals and organizations working together to establish, implement, and rapidly scale the Rights of Nature.


To stabilize the environmental crisis and ensure a thriving future for all inhabitants of Earth.


Establish and enforce Nature’s rights through law, policy, and governance by supporting grassroots efforts, indigenous-led organizations and others across the world.

Scale Strategy


Leading known & unknown NGOs and leaders (grantees) in countries across the world who help inspire, write, pass, and implement Rights of Nature laws.


Private philanthropy rooted in regional decision-making transitioning to government support in the future.

The drive to recognize the Rights of Nature is absolutely critical if we are to again find a balance with the world that supports us.

David Suzuki, (quoted in ‘The Rights of Nature’ by David R Boyd, 2017)

Insights for Success

We are only beginning our journey. While we have already reached out to many philanthropists and others who have shown strong enthusiasm, there is much work to be done.

We believe that uniting movements and people is essential to our success, and so we hope that you get in touch to join us, whether as a funder, advisor, or other role.

Here are some additional recommendations from these conversations, which will help guide initial strategic planning discussions:

Building Relationships

Effective funders networks require strong connections amongst the grantors and the grantees, so consider how to best build those relationships. We encourage you to reach out.

Consider adopting a “participatory grantmaker fund” model, which links traditional donors and grassroots organizations as learning hubs for all parties.

Starting Off

Conduct an in-depth survey from philanthropists, foundations, and Rights of Nature activists, lawyers, etc. to gain helpful insights as a first step (We have already done some of this work and strongly welcome new partners to join us!). 

Pick a few strategic campaigns to begin, starting with an initial round of micro-grants, and then scale based on those victories.

Leveraging Networks

Draw from existing philanthropy networks so you do not recreate the wheel; these networks may wish to have a formal relationship with the LRFN-FC.

The LRFN-FC should also rely upon regional networks as much as possible, e.g., where there are coalitions of reputable environmental leaders (possible grantees) who have already been vetted in a specific area.

Risks & Pitfalls

Understand political and legal risks wherever you are working.

Be careful not to fall into colonial tendencies (for a positive example, see the work of Val Napoleon at University of Victoria to create Indigenous law from traditional stories).


Ensure the LRFN-FC has legitimacy within the movement and that it funds a diversity of interests (e.g., not only Western organizations).

Having strong participation of Indigenous networks will be key to legitimacy, although do remember that all Indigenous peoples have their own unique story and situations.


Go slow at the beginning and ensure quality work before scaling.

There is significantly more interest in coordinated environmental funding efforts over the last ~3-5 years, so now is strategically a good time to launch the funders circle.

A rights-based approach to landscape development means restoring our understanding of these sacred responsibilities to the environment.

Janene Yazzie, member of Native American Diné tribe and IPMG focal person