Robert A. Cook, VMD, MPA
In 2011, The Foundation Center, a non-profit organization that maintains comprehensive databases on U.S. and global grant makers, estimated that private giving in the United States was approximately $303.1 billion. Seventy-two percent of that giving came from private living individual donors, 4% from corporations, 8% from donor bequests, and 16% from foundations. At that time, there were estimated to be 81,777 foundations with assets of $662 billion. These foundations provided approximately $49 billion in giving.1 The Environmental Grantmakers Association, a voluntary association of foundations and giving programs concerned with the protection of the natural environment, estimates that in 2011, environmental grant making was approximately $2.8 billion, with the top three most-funded primary issue areas being: 1) energy (18%), 2) biodiversity and species preservation (14%), and 3) terrestrial ecosystems and land use (12%). They also noted a dramatic increase in funding for population and sustainable agriculture and foods systems as well as fresh water/ inland water ecosystems.2 There is no tracking of wildlife health-specific funding support; however, it seems likely that this would comprise a fractional amount of the giving totals. Sources of funding for wildlife health include those provided by parent institutions (either through revenue-generating activities, such as zoo or aquarium admissions fees, restricted or unrestricted endowments), government grants, private individual donors (both living and bequests), corporate donors, corporate foundations, and charitable foundations. In order for wildlife health professionals to be successful in finding support, it is beneficial to understand how to develop robust projects or programs that might be of interest to one or a number of funding sources and then to create a strategy for fundraising directed at those opportunities with the greatest likelihood for success.
1. Key Facts on U.S. Foundations. Foundation Center; 2013.
2. Tracking the Field, Volume 4. Environmental Grantmakers Association. October 9, 2013.