Morris Animal Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The Morris Animal Foundation is a large, niche funder dedicated to advancing scientific research in veterinary care for cats, dogs, large companion animals (horses and llamas/alpacas) and wildlife. 

IP TAKE: Only groups and individuals whose work falls squarely within the foundation’s very specific guidelines, and can follow detailed instructions should apply. 

PROFILE: Since its establishment in 1948, the Morris Animal Foundation has been a major funder of veterinary research, having contributed tens of millions of dollars to studies addressing diagnostics, treatments, preventions, and cures for animals. The foundation was formed by Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., who developed one of the first special diet pet foods, which he sold to Hill’s. Dr. Morris was a leader in developing nutrition programs for treating a variety of conditions in animals and believed that scientific discoveries would lead to a transformation in the way animals were cared for.

Today, the Morris Animal Foundation is one of the largest funders in animal welfare, giving millions of dollars to hundreds of research projects each year. Grants range from under $5,000 to nearly $1 million, and the amount of funding an organization receives depends more on the cost and expected benefit of the project than on any predetermined guidelines set by the foundation.

Support for university research receives the lion’s share of the money, although there is still some room for zoos and other research institutions to slip through the door. It’s given grants in recent years to the Cheetah Conservation Society, the Fort Worth Zoological Association, and the Palm Beach Zoo of Palm Beach, Florida, to name a few examples.

The majority of revenue comes from private contributions, and the foundation runs a pretty tight ship, with approximately 80 percent of the revenues going directly to the grantees. More about its financials here. Funding is available to organizations outside of the United States, but these grants don't often exceed $100,000. Several fellowships are also awarded each year to veterinary students who are pursuing a career in animal health science. 

The Morris Animal Foundation funds a very diverse range of studies That said, there are a handful of causes the foundation tends to focus on more heavily, including cancer research, genetic studies directed at preventing disease, nutrition and its preventative and curative properties, stem cells and their potential in restoring tissue, and pain management.