Evergreen Collaborative: Recommendation
Evergreen Collaborative is a policy advocacy group that was founded by former staffers of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s 2020 presidential campaign. It designs and advocates for policy proposals while working alongside like-minded environmental organizations such as the Sunrise Movement, Rewiring America, RMI, and the Big Greens (e.g., large and well-funded environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club). By working on policy advocacy and acting as connective tissue between other environmental organizations, Evergreen Collaborative seeks to influence Congress, the Executive Branch, and federal agencies.
Image: Senator Tina Smith speaking at a press conference for the No Climate, No Deal campaign.
Policies that Evergreen has co-developed and advocated for include the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), vehicle electrification, housing retrofits, and the Civilian Climate Corps; many of these policy proposals have been either discussed or included in the Build Back Better Act. The CEPP, in particular, was a major emphasis of Evergreen’s federal legislation work in 2021 and was considered a key part of President Biden’s ambitious plan to slash US greenhouse gas pollution by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. Although it is unlikely that the CEPP will be included in the Build Back Better Act’s final package of policy proposals, it helped set a benchmark for ambition and the level of spending and ambition in the electricity sector. In fact, President Biden has committed to reallocating the $150 billion originally intended for the CEPP towards other programs that could drive down carbon pollution. This means that within the Build Back Better Act, other pro-climate programs have either been added to the bill’s framework or bolstered in lieu of the CEPP.
Based on Evergreen Collaborative’s accomplishments, strategic approach, organizational strength, and cost-effectiveness, we recommend Evergreen Collaborative as one of our top charities in combating climate change. For more information on Evergreen Collaborative, please review our Deep Dive report on the organization.
Note on organizations within Evergreen
Evergreen Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and primarily conducts policy development, though it is associated with a sister 501(c)(4) organization.
We are only providing a recommendation of the 501(c)3 Evergreen Collaborative.
Why we recommend Evergreen Collaborative
In our document How We Determined our Research Priorities for policy change, we employed the Importance, Tractability, and Neglectedness framework to outline the reasons why we think donations to legislative advocacy are likely to have a high marginal impact on reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations through the mechanism of policy change. We believe that Evergreen Collaborative is one of the most effective insider policy organizations currently working to influence US federal policy.
1. Evergreen Collaborative is a nimble organization that is highly adept at timing its policy development and advocacy to the political climate.
Evergreen Collaborative carefully times its policy development and communication to the political climate. For example, when President Joseph Biden won the White House and it seemed likely that Democrats would lose the Senate, Evergreen Collaborative released a list of President Biden’s proposed executive orders for combating climate change within days of the final election results. Evergreen Collaborative compiled these executive orders as a means to advocate for climate action outside of legislation. Additionally, Evergreen Collaborative developed lists of five key action items 21 different government agencies should each take on climate as the names of each agency’s potential appointees were released to the public. This was a gap in climate advocacy that other environmental groups had not filled. Finally, Evergreen Collaborative converted its original plan for a “100% Clean Energy by 2035” Clean Energy Standard (CES) into the CEPP when it became clear that, given the Democrat’s very narrow control of the Senate, Evergreen Collaborative’s most impactful plan for driving down emissions would need to be passed through budget reconciliation, which is not possible for a CES. These combined actions indicate that Evergreen is adept in identifying and seizing overlooked opportunities for advancing progressive climate policy.
2. The innovative and high-impact proposals that Evergreen Collaborative develops enter the public discourse and are debated as parts of potential bills, regulations, and executive actions.
Evergreen Collaborative has a track record of developing policy proposals that gain traction. For example, both the CEPP and Civilian Climate Corps were co-developed by Evergreen Collaborative and have been widely covered in the media. The CEPP and Civilian Climate Corps were among the package of proposals put forward for the Build Back Better Act by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and the House Natural Resources Committee, respectively.
3. Evergreen Collaborative is cost-effective in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (in expectation).
According to a cost-effectiveness analysis model that we developed, Evergreen Collaborative’s work on federal legislation is highly cost-effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Based on how much CO2-equivalent (CO2e) it could potentially reduce between 2022 and 2030, Evergreen is predicted (in expectation) to reduce emissions at a cost of about $0.54 per metric ton of CO2e under our Realistic scenario. These results should be viewed as rough, indicative estimates given the uncertainty in our different model inputs.
4. Evergreen Collaborative has a strong policy focus and an experienced staff well-suited to influence policy.
Evergreen’s staff and advisory board have deep roots in US policy, climate policy, state policy, and environmental justice. For example, the co-founders of Evergreen were previously staffers for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign, which ran on a platform of fighting the climate crisis. Evergreen’s advisory board includes but is not limited to a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who is writing and promoting the Green New Deal; an academic focused on energy, climate, and environmental politics; and leaders from climate and environmental justice organizations. In addition, Evergreen’s board includes members who can provide input on the climate crisis and proposed climate solutions from the perspectives of youth, labor, and frontline communities.
5. Evergreen Collaborative can productively use additional funds.
Evergreen Collaborative is a young organization with a limited budget and room to grow. In 2021 its total budget was around $2 million. Evergreen Collaborative anticipates a budget of $2.75 to 3 million in 2022 for its 501(c)(3) activities. As of November 2021, it has raised about $1.5 million for its 501(c)(3) funds. Besides meeting current budgetary needs, raising additional funds can help a small organization such as Evergreen concentrate on its mission and not spend large amounts of leadership resources constantly fundraising.
Evergreen’s portfolio of work for 2022 includes working on bill implementation and pushing for aggressive executive action on climate change, especially in the US's most polluting sectors (e.g. buildings and electricity). Evergreen may also conduct work in the regulatory environment, such as driving down emissions from transportation by working through the US Environmental Protection Agency and other authorities.
Risks to Evergreen Collaborative
Although we are excited about Evergreen Collaborative’s potential for impact, we are somewhat concerned about Evergreen Collaborative’s ability to enact policy change when the political environment is less amenable to climate action. In particular, we are concerned that Evergreen Collaborative’s window of opportunity for passing progressive legislation may be fairly limited. It seems likely that moderate Democrats will be less willing to take action on climate change closer to the midterm elections when their seats are at risk. It is also possible that Democrats will lose power after the 2022 midterms, which would further reduce the likelihood of progressive legislation being passed.
Nonetheless, we believe that Evergreen Collaborative could still be successful in enacting policy change even when Democrats do not hold a government trifecta. For instance, Evergreen Collaborative has already demonstrated that they know how to press levers related to the Executive Branch and regulators. Evergreen Collaborative has also said that it may work on state policy instead of federal policy if there were a stalemate in pushing climate policy forward at the federal level. Finally, it seems unlikely that opportunities to advance climate legislation would go to zero even if Democrats lost the House and/or Senate. For example, climate disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes could spur greater interest in climate change mitigation and resilience across both parties.
For the reasons above, our team concluded that Evergreen Collaborative is likely a high-impact organization, and has decided to recommend it as a top-performing climate change organization.