Packard Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: Packard gives heavily to protect marine wildlife, but makes no explicit commitments to fund protection of other wildlife on dry land. That said, its huge commitment to protecting land and biodiversity in the American West may offer pathways into this funder for the land-based wildlife work.

IP TAKE: This is a good foundation to tap into if you work with or on behalf of marine life; however, if grant seekers can link their land-based wildlife protection to the core goals of Packard's environmental programs, they might have a shot at an award as well.

PROFILE: The David and Lucille Packard Foundation often tops lists of leading grant-makers, and often gives out several hundred million dollars a year. While its overall portfolio is highly diverse and encompasses several programs that focus on young people, reproductive health, and other exclusively human issues, the Conservation and Science Program is quite robust. Ecosystem-protection efforts, ecological research, and collaborations with the public and private sectors for legal reforms and better business practices all qualify. 

The Conservation and Science Program distributes its grants worldwide; however, some parts of the globe seem to qualify more than others. The foundation awards a lot of funding to programs in North America--particularly the American West. Projects based along California’s coast, the Gulf of California, northwestern Mexico, and the Colorado Plateau account for extra-large shares of the spoils.

Wildlife-related grants tend to go to efforts for marine life. Packard has given the American Bird Conservancy funds for efforts to reduce accidental seabird entrapment in fish nets in South America—quite a few bird injuries and deaths happen each year because of seabird “bycatch.” The foundation gave another grant to Birdlife International for an Albatross Task Force to engage with communities in Namibia on albatross protection; and another to the National Audubon Society to conserve a critical roost site for Hudsonian godwits in Chile.

As for tying in your land-based wildlife efforts into the foundation's goals, one example to look at is the large grant Packard gave the Rainforest Action Network to rein in damage to forests from palm-oil harvests is a case in point. The stated intent was to save more trees, but any number of tree-dwelling animals was probably saved in the process, as well. Also consider the Defenders of Wildlife's work with farmers on reducing their farm operations’ impacts on nearby ecosystems; or the National Wildlife Federation's programs to spur conservation of U.S. forests--both funded in part by Packard. What benefits farm-adjacent landscapes and forests, also benefits the animals that call them home.  

Packard does not accept unsolicited proposals. But you can contact a program officer and submit a letter of inquiry. More details on the process are here.


  • Walt Reid, Director, Conservation and Science