Conservation remains a major focus of foundations. Some funders uniquely focus on the Amazon, while others seek to protect local American farmland from development. As always, competition for funding is stiff, but the wide array of funders ensures funding opportunities for organizations at the local, national or global levels. Moreover, generous new funders keep arriving on the scene, and this is a funding area in rapid flux. While many conservation funders invest in climate change, many do not. For more guides regarding climate change, see Inside Philanthropy's funding guides for climate change.
We track what conservation funders are doing and our learning is captured in this guide. Only paid subscribers can access this resource (subscribe here).
The 3M Foundation invests in an array of conservation projects in communities in which the company maintains a business presence.
Small funder mainly focused on California. Funds innovative efforts involving the intersection of nature and education, art and architecture, and conservation, among others. The application process is open to all, and the foundation puts few restrictions on how its grants can be used.
The Alstom Foundation funds conservation projects where Alstom has an employee and operational presence.
The Argosy Foundation supports a broad range of conservation efforts across the United States. Its investments include, but are not limited to education, research, the use of new technologies, sustainable design, and advocacy.
The Ashden Trust’s conservation related grantmaking focuses on the critical role forests play on the planet’s weather and supports organizations concerned with the “rapid destruction” of the world’s forestlands.
The Cameron and Jane Bird Foundation awards grants to support a variety of environmental conservation organizations across the country but appears to emphasize those located in New York and the Northeastern region of the United States.
Progressive funder that mainly supports advocacy and policy work, and has a keen interest in the nexus between environmental issues and human health, as well as making changes on a systemic level. Doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.
Conservation and the environment is a primary focus, here; grants go nationally for research, to preserve or repair biodiversity, and emphasize culturally significant natural heritage.
Bechtel has been a huge supporter of parks at the state and national level in recent years, and there's going to be some serious grantmaking happening in the next six years as this foundation spends down its assets (mostly among current grantees) by 2020.
Boeing primarily supports education, workforce development, the environment, financial stability, and health. Boeing divides its giving by state, and gives in 20 states total (plus Washington, D.C.).
The Louis L. Borick Foundation funds conservation groups that focus on preserving wilderness areas and open spaces.
The Bright Horizon Foundation invests in environmental conservation efforts across the United States.
This foundation funds conservation in Upstate New York, the Hudson River Valley, and throughout Connecticut. While the foundation is regional in its giving, there's a multi-billion-dollar fortune waiting in the wings.
The Bullitt Foundation's conservation grants largely invest in building sustainable and healthy communities.
Cargill funds organizations that protect U.S. national resources and promoting sustainable agricultural practices
The Caterpillar Foundation invests in organizations that alleviate the root causes of poverty, focusing on education, the environment, and basic needs.
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation supports large-scale land restoration activities.
The foundation funds projects that encourage local communities to address the depletion of natural resources and wildlife habitats.
Founded in 1996 by a conservationist whose overriding concern was over-population’s impacts on the environment, Colcom supports organizations whose goal is fewer people living in the United States. But the foundation also supports many environmental organizations, mainly in Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area.
Common Stream broadly funds conservation grants to organizations that operate across the United States.
A small foundation that funds projects and efforts around environmental health and justice, land conservation, sustainability of resources, mountaintop removal mining, and watershed protection. It accepts proposals year round.
Crown Family Philanthropies focuses its conservation-related grantmaking on organizations located in the Midwestern region of the United States.
Ray Dalio is one of the richest people in the hedge fund business. His philanthropy has really ramped up in recent years, and he has a keen interest in the environment. He's also signed the Giving Pledge. The Dalio Explore Fund supports environmental research projects.
The Sarah K. DeCoizart Perpetual Charitable Trust invests in conservation organizations that protect ecologically important areas, work in land use policy, and studying the impact of urban sprawl.
This foundation funds environmental stewardship in the states in which it works and serves. It focuses on preserving and supporting wildlife and animal habitats, particularly those that are water-related. It also funds higher education efforts around conservation.
The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation supports the environment, the arts, education, health, and housing. However, its grantmaking is broad-based.
Doris Duke funds conservation work, but much of it is toward climate change, land conservation, wildlife, energy development, and environmental stewardship. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted, but unsolicited letters of inquiry are.
Ecolab Foundation is a hearty supporter of environmental conservation programs, particularly those that have a community education component. In order to qualify for a grant, your program must serve in an Ecolab region.
The Eucalyptus Foundation’s conservation grants support a wide range of environmental conservation and preservation organizations.
While it keeps a low public profile, the Joseph and Marie Field Environmental Foundation’s grantmaking includes support for African conservation organizations.
The Stephanie and Lawrence Flinn Jr. Charitable Trust primarily funds grantmaking related to the environment, animals, education, youth, health, and human services. The foundation's environmental grantmaking appears to focus on wildlife and land conservation.
Interested specifically in biodiversity and wilderness, ecological agriculture, and globalization and megatechnology, the foundation gives to activist and progressive conservation projects in South America, and also publishes books and supports the “intellectual infrastructure” of the environmental movement.
The philanthropic arm of the paper manufacturer makes conservation grants under its broader environmental focus; unique in that all grants are for general operating support.
The George Family Foundation supports environmental organizations that work in Minnesota, Vail Valley, Colorado, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund’s conservation grants focus largely on efforts that benefit girls and women.
Founded with the wealth of the family’s department store fortune, Gimbel gives mostly to big national environmental groups working on a range of issues. Some specific focus areas include reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency, ensuring access to clean air and water, and restoring the health of the oceans.
The Grove Foundation’s conservation grants tend to focus on protecting and conserving natural resources in the United States.
Support for the environment tends to involve local and regional Chicagoland organizations.
Helmsley gives in four key locations, with grants going to a mix of large, global organizations and smaller, local groups. Emphasis is on marine protection and fisheries, and protection of land and movement building in the priority regions. Does not accept unsolicited proposals.
Established by financier Carl Ferenbach, High Meadows supports environmental science, research, education, policy work, and more.
The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation awards conservation related grants to a diverse set of causes.
The philanthropic vehicle of Blackstone COO Hamilton James and his wife Amabel. Funds land and fisheries conservation; doesn't appear to accept unsolicited proposals.
The Jephcott Charitable Trust supports organizations working to preserve natural environments.
A foundation of the wealthy family behind Fidelity Investments. Currently, its main focus has been Boston and New England.
The Johnson Family Foundation's conservation grants seek to improve overall environmental health.
Kendeda funds conservation, climate change, and sustainable living projects, with an emphasis on building broad support. It prefers community-based solutions, and aims to fill the gaps left by other funders. Doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.
Kingfisher's mission is to restore and protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity through sound management of fisheries and real-world policy that serves fishers, consumers and the environment.
The Korsant Family Foundation’s grantmaking includes support major environmental conservation organizations.
The Lawrence Foundation awards grant to environmental organizations located in the United States; however, grantee organizations may operate projects elsewhere in the world.
This is an active environmental funder in the Pacific Northwest, giving almost a million a year to conservation, biodiversity, and strengthening the environmental movement in regional states. Grants go to both local groups and national outfits doing local work.
The philanthropic project of former Goldman Sachs partner Larry Linden, its focus is on market-based approaches that can provide long-term financing, mostly for land protection.
The Marcus Foundation broadly funds environmental conservation work across the United States.
This foundation's Environment Program focuses on the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable ecosystem management with a special interest in marine resources conservation. It funds efforts in western North America, Chile, and the western Pacific. It also supports the search for solutions to health threats caused by toxic chemicals.
This Minnesota-based foundation gives support to restore and protect floodplains and wetlands of the Mississippi. McKnight works in the 10-state region in the river corridor and internationally, with a focus on clean energy, water, and agriculture.
This Pennsylvania foundation started by the founder of Mellon Bank is devoted almost entirely to conservation in Southwestern Pennsylvania. But its level of grantmaking is on par with national funders.
Works in the Bahamas, Colorado, New York and North Carolina to establish new nature preserves, launch new forest management initiatives, enact new programs to conserve and restore threatened waterways, and preserve open space.
One of the leading funders of environmental conservation worldwide that seeks to create lasting change in how land, freshwater, and coastal marine ecosystems are managed. Mostly interested in the Amazon Basin region and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Moses Feldman Foundation’s conservation grants focus on related efforts in the northeastern region of the United States.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is a large, Michigan-based funder that makes millions in environmental grants annually, with a big focus on freshwater conservation, sustainable development, and clean energy.
The Mulago Foundation supports conservation efforts that benefit poor people in developing and least developed countries around the world.
National Geographic is a longtime leading supporter of wildlife and conservation. There is a diversity of funding available here, but applicants need to demonstrate a proven history of success in their fields.
The New World Foundation invests in conservation work that seeks to reverse the impact of global fossil fuel economy.
The Norman Foundation supports community-based environmental justice and conservation organizations.
The Overbrook Foundation funds organizations that conserve the environment and biodiversity, as well as, those promoting sustainable consumption practices and energy conservation.
Most of Packard's conservation funding is focused on the United States, with a big emphasis on the American West and also the agricultural sector. This deep-pocketed funder spreads grants quite widely.
The foundation associated with hedge fund Passport Capital focuses on environmental health and impacts of environmental contaminants. They don't accept unsolicited proposals.
Patagonia funds nonprofits making efforts to conserve and protect natural landscapes and wildlife. Small organizations that mobilize average citizens and press for public policy change are what it likes the best.
William Penn's conservation work supports scientific research, policy development, restoration projects, and advocacy efforts to mobilize the public.
While Pew is probably better known for its oceans work in green circles, land conservation remains a big focus. Pew is no longer a grantmaking foundation, but still ends up giving large amounts to partners in conservation causes.
The Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation supports environmental conservation organizations around the world; however, it does not award many grants each year.
REI’s approach to giving is decentralized, and requires a close connection with local store employees. But for small, local organizations doing work in trails, parks or waterways, developing a relationship with REI could present a prime opportunity for an ongoing boost in funding.
Strong interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation and sustainability. Grants are on the small side, but funding is steady. It gives on the local, state, and national levels.
The Rose Foundation supports environmental organizations that work on long-term, sustainable conservation programs and projects.
Rumphius is a small environmental funder, making only a couple of grants a year at this point, but is looking to build its resources with donations. It’s also notably accessible.
This foundation gives heavily for the environment, but for the most part it’s been limited to a few grantees. However, it plans to give away the majority of its wealth, and new grantees have emerged in recent years.
A progressive funder whose environmental giving takes place under its "Advocate for Vulnerable and Exploited People and Environments" grants category.
The Sangreal Foundation supports animal, wildlife, and environmental conservation programs around the world.
The Scherman Foundation invests in sustainability, building a green economy, and sustainable drinking water.
Bloomberg co-founder Thomas Secunda and his wife Cindy have a strong interest in environmental conservation and have been increasing their giving in this area in recent years.
Storer funds organizations that balance the need for energy resource development and the conservation of national resources with the need for building and supporting a “diverse and thriving economy.”
Funds efforts in Maine that support land restoration, as well as the development and beautification of nature trails, boating routes, parks, and programs for youth, including classroom workshops and summer camps.
The Turing Foundation supports organizations primarily focused on sustainable land use in developing countries.
The Turner Foundation gives a large number of small-to-medium-sized grants to a diverse range of environmental work.
Funding for conservation is one of the priorities of this foundation, founded by John and Tashia Morgridge, with a big emphasis on conservation ventures that are located in the American West and involve public enjoyment of the outdoors.
This foundation is particularly interested in reforestation and conservation, carbon reduction efforts, and environmental research and education, with an emphasis on its tree-planting initiative.
The Van Sloun Foundation invests in a variety of conservation efforts, which include those related to water and land.
Very farming-focused. Priorities include land and water conservation and sustainable and chemical-free farming methods and food distribution systems. It's particularly interested in long-term ideas to benefit the country and world.
This fund "supports the study of wildlife; the protection of habitats; the development of community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems; and experiences that connect kids to nature across the globe."
Walton has become one of the biggest environmental funders in the U.S. While it mainly funds marine and river conservation, it gives a smaller number of grants to a range of other environmental groups, including for land conservation and ecology education.
The Waterloo Foundation prioritizes organizations that improve fish stocks, protect tropical rainforests, and halt the practice of deforestation.
The Weeden Foundation supports programs and projects that fund biodiversity programs, land-acquisition, sustainable population growth, and human consumption.
The Woodcock Foundation’s environmental conservation grantmaking focuses on large landscapes.
The Virginia Wellington Cabot supports a variety conservation organizations around the country.
Wells Fargo is interested in sustainable agriculture and forestry, water quality, land conservation and support for building healthy urban ecosystems, as well as clean technology.
Wilburforce is all about conservation in Western North America. They support work in a dozen priority regions (although not in California), with programs in conservation science, law and policy, and organizational capacity building.
Penn Foundation supports work to protect and restore the Delaware watershed near the Philadelphia metro area. It's interested in scientific research, policy development, restoration projects, and advocacy efforts to mobilize the public.
The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust broadly supports a range of conservation efforts in the United States.
The Woodcock Foundation’s conservation grants fund land conservation, wildlife habitat preservation, and marine conservation projects.
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has several interests, including supporting large-scale conservation and natural resource stewardship efforts in the Atlanta metro area and throughout Georgia.
The Weyerhaeuser Foundation invests in organizations that promote and build sustainable forest communities.
The Wyss Foundation protects land areas in the American West. It fosters coalitions of nonprofit and private- or public-sector advocates working to protect them. It offers support that often runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars in recurring gifts per annum.
Xcel Energy Foundation conservation grants focus on programs and projects that have a positive impact on the natural environment of the communities in which Xcel Energy operates.
The Xerox Foundation funds science education, environmental affairs, and a variety of others issues.
The Zegar Family Foundation tends to offer its environmental conservation grants to large national organizations rather than local and grassroots organizations.