Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation is a key player in the realm of wildlife conservation, supplying large grants to many of the big name nonprofits who are working to preserve iconic species overseas. Some support also goes to groups in the western United States for their work in preserving habitats and natural resources, as well as promoting biodiversity. It is not, however, accepting unsolicited proposals at this time.

IP TAKE: The foundation has a long list of favorite organizations it supports year after year, and since it is currently not accepting unsolicited proposals, this may not be the time to apply if you are a new funder.

PROFILE: The famous fashion design duo Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg went on a safari in Africa in 1987 with James Murtaugh, then Curator of the Central Park Zoo. One night during the trip, the three had dinner with renowned landscape ecologist David Western. Over the course of their meal, the idea for a foundation to preserve threatened animal species was born.

The Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation is a major player in the realm of wildlife conservation. It’s active throughout the developing world, particularly in the Tropics; and in large areas of the western United States. The foundation’s focus is on conserving wildlife habitats, and the species therein. It also looks for ways to mobilize local communities toward relieving human pressures on animals and the environment, with a focus on projects that address species extinction, habitat destruction and fragmentation, and resource depletion and waste. 

This funder’s grants generally take the form of seed money, continuing support, and matching or challenge support. And they tend to stick to big, well-established organizations. Panthera, the African Conservation fund, the Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and The Nature Conservancy are among its big beneficiaries.

The outlook for groups applying for their first grant is not completely hopeless, though. Each year, the foundation makes room for a handful of new projects and organizations. You can see a list of the foundation's recent grantees here.

The board of directors is comprised of many famous conservationists, biologists and authors who are considered pioneers in their fields. These include Dr. William Conway, who served as the director of the Bronx Zoo for 43 years and was instrumental in helping the Wildlife Conservation Society establish four zoos and one aquarium in New York City; and Dr. George Schaller, who serves as a Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and has led numerous influential studies on the world’s most iconic and endangered animals. Art Ortenberg was a board member, as well, until his death in February 2014.

In the final analysis, the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation is an excellent prospect for larger groups seeking to restore and protect wildlife and their habitats.