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Funding Review Process

Review process, funding allocations, and grant-making priorities

Since December 2011 the MBZ Fund has engaged the expertise of international species conservation experts in an independent capacity to serve on its Advisory Board to assess the proposals submitted and make funding recommendations to the Fund’s Senior Management. Each member of the Advisory Board contributes unique taxonomic and field conservation expertise to the team.

Preliminary review:
Each year the Fund has three application deadlines, usually at the end of February, end of June and end of October. The online application system is available to applicants throughout the year. However, submissions received after the previous deadline are compiled for comprehensive review. The number of applications varies for each review period, but there are usually between 1,500 – 1,800 applications per year with about 12% of applicants receiving grants.

The volume of applications, in addition to being a burden on independent Advisory Board reviewers, includes a significant portion that is ineligible and, therefore, not formally reviewed. Please ensure you read the criteria or browse the Frequently Asked Questions pages.

The Fund Secretariat conducts a preliminary review on every application submitted, to develop a shortlist for the Advisory Board’s comprehensive review. The review process consists of:

Main review:
The applications in the shortened list are assigned to different Advisory Board members according to taxonomic speciality. An in-depth review is then conducted which leads to a list of applications proposed by the Advisory Board for funding support. Each reviewer include their personal experience, contacts and networks, and knowledge of conservation practices to assess each application assigned to them.

Grant Allocation:
The MBZF has limited funds and is restricted, to some degree, by the investment success of the endowment. This policy leaves approx. $1.5m per year to be invested in conservation globally.

During the funding round (three times per year), $500,000 per gets distributed between the various taxonomy groups (Amphibians, Birds, Fish, Fungi, Invertebrates, Mammals, Plants and Reptiles) is awarded a predetermined funding allocation depending on if they meet the criteria.

The Advisory Board conducts reviews for approximately one month, followed by a two-day in-person discussion to present and finalise the list of recommendations. A detailed list of recommended projects is then generated for final approval by the Fund’s Senior Management.

Review Considerations:
Considering the number of deserving projects in comparison to available funding, the Advisory Board applies a set of informal guidelines to differentiate between select projects:

  • The likelihood for the applicant to raise additional funding?
  • Does this project address threats?
  • Does the project engage with local communities for threat mitigation, capacity development, or citizen science?
  • What are the local benefits in terms of conservation activity, community engagement and capacity development?
  • Does the proposed project tie in with other conservation initiatives or do they recommend conservation actions for this species?
  • Does the proposed project tie in with other conservation initiatives or do they recommend conservation actions for this species?
  • How much impact can a specific amount of funding have on a project compared to others under consideration?
  • How will a limited amount of funding benefit a particular species over another species?

Please also note:

  • Applicants seeking up to $5,000 will either receive the requested amount or none at all. Hence, applications with smaller amounts are more likely to be granted as requested.
  • Applicants requesting over $5,000 may receive a minimum of 50% of the requested amount, provided it exceeds $5,000. In exceptional cases, the Advisory Board might recommend funding specific budget items, even if it’s less than 50% of the total requested.
  • Applicants who haven’t received a grant before are less likely to be awarded more than $10,000.

Grant Approval:
Once the final list has been agreed, ALL applicants (whether successful or not) will receive an email from the Fund informing them of the decision.
The Fund Secretariat is unable to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants regarding the reasons for not being awarded a grant.

This is a very competitive process and there is only a limited amount of money available.

Unsuccessful applicants are invited to try again!

Funding guiding principles:

The Fund’s philosophy is to keep small grants simple and minimize administrative burden for applicants, avoiding the need for a larger secretariat.

The Fund intends to help support global biodiversity and the conservation of species by:

  • providing financial support to people and organisations committed to in situ species conservation work.

We support passionate people looking to make a difference in the field of conservation. Species conservation should primarily be in the field in touch with nature, not behind a desk or in a lab.

  • Keep the connection with nature, and people in the field (scientists, rangers, general public).

The importance of the presence of individuals in the field should not be underestimated (as was illustrated by the COVID pandemic). When these advocates were not in the field, wildlife suffered. The connection with nature also has an emotional importance, which the Fund believes is crucial to effective species conservation and nature protection.

  • Helping bring species back to the centre of the global environmental dialogue.

The Fund aims to shape the direction of species conservation by actively engaging in current discussions and anticipating future trends. By highlighting individual species and their champions, we seek to rekindle interest in species conservation. Small, focused grants are instrumental in fostering effective species conservation, emphasizing that the ecological balance of our planet hinges on preserving diverse species, complementing larger initiatives for ecosystems and climate change.

  • Supporting the conservation of all and any species threatened with extinction.

Species require financial support based on their actual conservation requirements, not just perceived ones. The inherent value of species and nature surpasses any attempt at monetisation. Nature is invaluable and cannot be quantified as a commodity in a marketplace.

All species are important to biodiversity of the planet and require an equal status in conservation. All species are crucial to the biodiversity of the planet, not only ones the ones that are perceived to be more “attractive” or manage to get more media attention.

  • Understanding that species conservation should consider human well-being while acknowledging the fundamental role of nature and humanity’s place within it.

A larger part of the planet should be preserved for nature, and in areas where humans and nature intersect, conservation and sustainable development must harmonise. Species conservation should embrace science, fostering community engagement through understanding rather than confrontation. Recognizing that humans are integral to nature, we must acknowledge our dependence on other species for survival, even though most species can thrive independently of human influence.