News Round-Up

Global philanthropic fund expands grant-making focus to help conservation organisations meet core emergency operational needs

Aiming to ensure the survival of grassroots conservation organisations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Fund) today announced it will expand its grant-making criteria to help grantees meet core emergency operating needs precipitated by the crisis.

The MBZ Fund is a philanthropic endowment providing micro-grants of up to $25,000 to support in-the-field conservation projects for the world’s most threatened species. Since 2009, the Fund has provided over $20 million to more than 2,150 projects in over 180 countries, supporting more than 1,400 different species and subspecies. Many grantees have succeeded in rediscovering lost species, discovering new ones, and reducing threats to countless others.

To help organisations avoid layoffs, cutbacks, or ceasing operations completely, The MBZ Fund will now offer relief grants of up to $25,000. The grants can be used to cover core operating expenses, such as staff salaries, office rent, and other essential overhead costs.

“It’s clear that conservation organisations cannot protect threatened species if they cannot meet basic needs like staff salaries and rent,” said Razan Al Mubarak, the Founding Managing Director of the MBZ Fund. “The Fund has always been dedicated to keeping conservationists in the field. Allowing conservationists to lose their jobs or for their organisations to collapse would be detrimental to fulfilling our long-term mission.”

Ms. Al Mubarak added: “Our hope is that other foundations and philanthropists join the MBZ Fund in easing restrictions so conservation organisations can make it through this challenging time and weather the economic impact of the pandemic.”

The MBZ Fund Covid-19 relief grants are intended to give time to the most severely affected conservation organisations to adapt to the challenging financial circumstances brought on by the pandemic, particularly those small, locally-based conservation organisations in developing economies working in sites of global species conservation value. For grant application guidelines, visit

The Fund decided to expand its grant-making focus after conducting a survey in April 2020 of more than 300 of its grantees in 85 different countries. Aimed at gauging the effects of the pandemic on its grantees, the survey found that many conservationists were very concerned about the financial futures of their organisations. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organisation had been negatively impacted, with 57 percent reporting their organisation was experiencing financial difficulties and 22 percent reporting their organisations planned to eliminate jobs. Many grantees highlighted the loss of revenue for their organisations due to park, zoo, and aquarium closures, the decline in eco-tourism, and the reduction in student enrolment for courses and fieldwork experiences. A summary report of the survey can be viewed here.

The Covid relief grants will be distributed in two rounds. The deadline to apply for the first round of Covi-19 relief grants from the MBZ Fund is 31 October, 2020 with successful grants receiving funding at the end December 2020.. A second round of grant applications will be accepted before the 28th of February 2021 with successful applications receiving funding before the end of April 2021. For grant application guidelines and criteria, visit

About the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, based in Abu Dhabi, is a philanthropic endowment established in 2009 to provide small grants ($25,000 or less) to individual species conservation initiatives worldwide. To date, the Fund has provided over $20m in financial support to more than 2,150 species conservation projects across more than 180 countries supporting more than 1,400 different species and subspecies. The MBZ Fund’s reach in species conservation is global and it provides grants to all species types including amphibians, birds, fish, fungus, invertebrates, mammals, plants, and reptiles.

The small grants from the MBZ Fund are specifically intended to support boots-on-the-ground, direct species conservation projects, which usually require significant time and effort from conservationists who are in the field working directly to support and improve the status of endangered species in their natural habitat. The MBZ Fund is philosophically grounded on the premise that species of all types are the building blocks of life and that species conservationists are the first line of defence against their extinction.

Header image: MBZ Fund grantee recipient Dr. Trever Coote releasing the Critically Endangered Polynesian tree snail, or Partula, on the island of Moorea. Credit: Trevor Coote.