Walt Disney Company: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: Disney’s cash giving has been steadily increasing along with the company’s profits, and the environment is one of the main priorities of the company’s corporate citizenship program, including an annual fund that has made more than 1,000 grants since its start in 1995. From its website, "the 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."

IP TAKE: The nice thing about Disney’s environment grants is that quite a few diverse groups receive funding at moderate levels, as opposed to a few big, prominent grants. The Disney program is open to inquiries, and grants go all over the globe.

PROFILE: Walt Disney believed it was the duty of everyone on the planet to preserve its natural resources, and the company still cites the environment as a big priority when it comes to its corporate citizenship program. Disney considers itself to have a responsibility to promote happiness and well-being of kids and families, and appreciating and protecting nature is a big component of that, so one of its four corporate responsibility priorities is to conserve nature, and one of six commitments in its ethical business goals is environmental stewardship

On Earth Day in 1995, Disney started its main giving program, called the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. The fund makes annual grants in medium-sized amounts, around $25,000 a year, meaning there are quite a few grantees. Funding for the program comes from a mix of cash directly from the company, and proceeds from guests and revenue from Disney’s nature-related theme parks and films.

Funding for the program comes from a mix of cash directly from the company, and proceeds from guests and revenue from Disney’s nature-related theme parks and films. 

As far as what the DWCF supports, a lot of it is wildlife related, anything from elephants to armadillos. And that makes some amount of sense for a company known for its beloved animal characters. But there’s a lot of general conservation work here too.  

The nice thing about the program is that it benefits a really wide variety of projects and teams working in conservation, including some of the big names but also lots of local groups and universities. This is always a nice change from the overreliance on huge organizations or big-name projects we see so often in corporate giving. It’s also open to inquiries on annual funding cycles. 

Aside from the main grants program, the DWCF has a Rapid Response fund that is set aside to help with conservation efforts following disasters such as tsunami or political unrest. 

Finally, the company has a program that is built around carbon offset, but involves land management. The Climate Solutions Fund charges Disney subsidiaries for their carbon footprints, and reinvests the money into reforestation and forest management projects. Since 2009, the program has invested $48 million in such carbon offset programs.  

Read about how to apply for all Disney conservation funding at the links below. 


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