Fund for Wild Nature: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The Fund for Wild Nature supports small organizations on the front lines of the environmental movement that bring about change in creative ways. The foundation awards the majority of grants to wildlife and natural ecosystems.

IP TAKE: This funder concentrates its grantmaking more on lands and ecosystems than on animals themselves. It also exclusively funds small and grassroots organizations, and will not fund organizations whose budgets exceed $250,000 or those that can secure government funding.

PROFILE: Established in 1982, the Fund for Wild Nature invests in "bold grassroots organizations and innovative conservation efforts that meet emerging needs for protecting biodiversity and wilderness." The fund believes that wild areas serve as the "main reservoirs of biodiversity, and provide key spiritual and scientific reference points for our understanding of the planet's wondrous cycles of birth, life, death and decay." The board's ideology is based on biocentrism and, through its grantmaking, seeks to support an activist environmental movement. It supports projects dedicated to wildlife and ecosystem conservation. 

The fund prefers a broad approach to its environmental grantmaking rather than delineating specific programs. In the past, it has funded projects that protect endangered species, restore lynx populations, and monitor public lands. Wildlife-focused grant seekers will be glad to know that the fund’s executive director, Jeff Petersen, is a lawyer who has long been closely involved in litigation defending animals. Animal-rights advocates thus have a strong friend leading the organization. In addition, the board consists of lifelong environmental advocates who know which strategies work when it comes to expanding impact on wild areas. The fund does not, however, award research grants. It strictly funds “small groups who get things done.” Wild Nature limits its grantmaking to organizations working in the United States, U.S. territories, or Canada. 

The fund's grants range from about $1,000 to $3,000. It will not support proposals that request more than $3,000. The fund does not have an endowment, which means that the generosity of private donors keeps it afloat and sponsors it's giving. 

The Fund for Wild Nature accepts unsolicited proposals, especially if the senders have projects that are not receiving adequate funding or public attention. Grantseekers can also examine its detailed list of recent grantees, which excludes large environmental organizations. Much of the fund's awards support front-lines environmental activism around the United States: groups like Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, which received a grant to fund habitats for the Swainson’s hawk population of southern Sacramento County, California; and the Southern Plains Land Trust, a Colorado group that organizes and advocates for the prairie plants and animal life of grasslands in Colorado. In the past, the fund's support has helped provide seed money for organizations that went on to become major organizations, such as the Greater Gila Biodiversity Project (Center for Biological Diversity). 

To secure a grant, grantseekers should submit one, single pdf file proposal and related documents by the submission deadline to the Fund at fwn@fundwildnature.org. The fund encourages grantseekers to make contact should they have questions. 

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