Couple Takes Action on Climate Change, Resilient Lands with OCF
Donors Eric Wan and Michele Goodman go all in with their giving—sharing their expertise, time and resources while continually learning and looking for new opportunities. That approach is essential as they focus their giving on what’s meaningful to them. They enjoy spending time in Oregon’s scenic, wild places, with particular interest in coastal areas and preserves, and do their part to address climate change and support healthy, resilient lands—for the sake of us all.
“It’s clearly one of the defining crises of our lives. Whether people want to accept it or not, the climate crisis really does affect all other areas of giving,” Eric says. “Whether you are talking about poverty or homelessness, or [a number of other] things, these are influenced by the health of the planet and climate change.”
As a couple, they have committed time to organizations working on this and related issues. Eric, an electrical engineer and PSU faculty member, served for years on the board of The Nature Conservancy. Michele, a former technology executive, works as president of her family’s foundation and served for six years on the board of Oregon Environmental Council.
For nearly 20 years, they have used their OCF donor advised fund to support conservation and arts organizations such as Columbia Land Trust, The Freshwater Trust, The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, North Coast Land Conservancy, OPB, Oregon Environmental Council, White Bird, Wild Salmon Center and other nonprofits. Building on their longstanding giving through OCF, they’ve become more engaged recently with staff and fellow donors.
“It’s only more recently that we’ve been taking advantage of OCF as a resource for education and understanding of the nonprofit space,” Eric says.
The couple joined the Climate Change and Healthy Habitats (CC&HH) Collective Giving Group at its inception about three years ago. Participants meet, learn, plan and pool their funding to address climate change and ensure healthy and resilient ecosystems. Since its inception, the group has grown from 8 to 21 advised funds and foundations represented by more than 30 people.
“With the CC&HH group, I have hope that individuals are prioritizing the environment. I realize now that more people care about the environment than I thought,” Michele reflects.
As they have developed new connections within the OCF community, they’ve also looked for opportunities to amplify their impact through the foundation. A new area of interest to Eric and Michele is impact investing—supporting projects that generate positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. This year they’re participating in the Oregon Impact Fund, which lends to nonprofit organizations and for-profit social ventures supporting homelessness and housing, economic and community vitality, health and well-being, education, and natural resources. They’re eager to lend their support to capital-intensive forest resiliency projects that make a difference on a large scale.
In addition, they will use their advised fund this year to support the Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes Initiative. The initiative has identified 21 land trust projects across Oregon, Washington and Idaho and will help to conserve all of these climate-resilient lands—nearly 30,000 acres—while making transformative investments in the region’s land trusts and the communities they serve.
“I think it’s terrific that OCF is so much more active in the environment. Because OCF is so large, with all of the different donors, it can make a bigger impact than we could alone,” Michele says. “OCF has been a fantastic partner. The staff—Carlos Garcia, Anne George, Jennifer Curry and other folks— have been so generous with their time and helping to educate us. Their knowledge—their connections—I find really valuable.”