Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW:  The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is one of the biggest funders of wildlife conservation groups through its broader work on environmental conservation. It invests in how "land, freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems are managed." 

IP TAKE: The foundation supports wildlife conservation programs and humane societies, but does not accept unsolicited proposals; however, it allows individuals to submit 100 word (or less) inquiries by email.

PROFILE: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is only as old as the millennium itself—Intel co-founder and “Moore’s Law” originator Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty Moore, launched the foundation in 2000. This San Francisco-based institution has amassed a multi-billion personal fortune and a charitable-giving track record of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, more than half of which goes to environmental causes. It says that everything it does is guided by "impact, integrity, disciplined approach and collaboration." It invests in patient care, the San Francisco Bay area, science, and environmental conservation

The Moore Foundation conducts its conservation grantmaking through its environmental conservation program. Offering seven separate initiatives, the program prioritizes sustainability, the Andes-Amazon, marine conservation, forests and agriculture, animals and wildlife, and wilde salmon both in the United States and abroad. Its initiatives change often and are ever expanding. As such, grantseekers are advised to check back often.

Grants range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars. Past grantees include the American Bird Conservancy among many other large groups. Unfortunately for grassroots organizations, the foundation prioritizes large, established organizations. The foundation specifically seeks investments that will generate a “return,” ecologically speaking, for many years to come. 

Furthermore, the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Grantseekers are advised to cultivate the relationships that could lead to a grant invitation. 


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Much of Moore's funding for its Andes-Amazon Initiative takes the form of big grants to major NGOs that the foundation has been working with for years. These include the Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund, and several top NGOs in Brazil and Peru. On the other hand, a variety of of institutions, including universities, have received Moore funding for Amazon-related work in recent years. If an institution has a key role to play in some aspect of preserving the Amazon, it should definitely get itself on Moore's radar, but since Moore doesn't accept new pitches and works very closely with its small number of main grantees, getting in the door is not an easy task. 

To enter this mix, Moore insiders recommend building a relationship with relevant staff. In fact, program officers usually work very closely with recipients long before and after any funds are awarded. Rather than an application or a pitch, it's more of an iterative process to design project goals aligned with both parties, and the strategy to get there. Once awarded, program officers stay in contact with grantees to monitor how the project is going and adapt their strategy if the original one is not working. It's very much a collaborative team effort.

Beyond the Amazon, Moore has a longstanding interest in land conservation in the San Francisco Bay Area and makes a handful of grants to advance this goal every year. But again take note, the Bay Area program is housed with a different team than the rest of the foundation's conservation work.




If your conservation work has nothing to do with either the Amazon or the Bay Area, you may find hope in Moore's special program grants for environmental conservation, which range rather widely. Several U.S. universities, including Duke, Stanford, Yale, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, have previously scored Moore funds for various projects. Same thing goes here as with the larger subprograms, you'll need to cultivate a relationship there first.

To access the foundation's database of grantees, click here.







    Finally, it must be noted that for all his giving so far through the foundation, Gordon Moore is a living donor, now in his 80s, with an estimated net worth of just over $4 billion. So there are huge resources waiting in the wings here, and the foundation's spending — how much, on what, and where — may easily change, with big new initiatives added. So this is a funder to keep a very close eye on if you're in the conservation field.


    • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)