How the Resources Legacy Fund Is Like Yoda to Major Foundations

Handling millions of dollars and tracking hundreds of projects can be hard work — and sometimes the big foundations need a little help. That's where groups like the Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) come in, helping donors to set goals, develop strategies, and execute initiatives. Some of the largest foundations in the conservation field have relied on RLF for help. These groups include the Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.

The Packard Foundation (see Packard Foundation: Grants for Conservation) acknowledges RLF as a "longtime partner" and relies heavily on the organization for its grantmaking. Packard's Western Conservation subprogram (which covers California, the Colorado Plateau, and Northwest Mexico) was developed in collaboration with RLF, which now conducts grants on behalf of Packard. The Packard Foundation's California Coast program also uses RLF to manage grants. Millions of dollars each year have gone to RLF to support these programs between 2007 and 2013. All six of RLF's main programs acknowledge Packard as an important partner.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (see Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Conservation) also has relied on RLF's help in the past, mainly for two projects based in California. The first was to advance long-term funding for San Francisco Bay habitat restoration, the second to support California marine spatial planning. The San Francisco project received more than $500,000 in 2013. In 2012, the Moore Foundation gave RLF $5 million to work on California's marine protected areas and Marine Life Protection Act.

The Hewlett Foundation (see Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Conservation) too has worked with RLF. In 2013, Hewlett gave RLF $500,000 for the California Parks Forward Initiative. In 2010 and 2012, funds went toward the California Desert Solar and Land Conservation Project. Hewlett appears to be invested in RLF, but to a much lesser extent than the Packard Foundation.

Grantees having trouble accessing the major foundations may have more success heading toward their partner grantmaking institutions. RLF appears to focus much of its work in California, northwest Mexico, and the Northern Rockies. RLF also does some work with fisheries and the Marine Stewardship Council. Grantees with interests in those areas may want to try contacting the folks at RLF.