“Keep turning rocks over,” says Russ Roseberry, past president of Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA, always on the prowl for appropriate grants


  • Use connections in your community. Ask friends in the nonprofit community about foundations they know. Community Foundations are a good place to start

  • Approach businesses for small grants of $2,000 – $5,000 and ask if the business has a foundation. Banks at both the national and local level often have foundations.

  • Search for grants from state government and national conservation organizations. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society recently received $18,350 from the Sea Turtle Conservancy to purchase educational materials about endangered sea turtles, including life–sized replicas of a loggerhead hatchling and adult. Chincoteague Natural History Association received funds to help restore the Assateague Lighthouse from the Virginia Department of Transportation because the lighthouse is still an active navigation aid (see “Raising the Big Bucks,” page 5)

  • Read Big Gifts for Small Groups by professional fundraiser Andy Robinson—a short read with valuable ideas, says Roseberry.

  • Write boilerplate copy about your Friends group that can be used every time you prepare a grant proposal—visitation to your refuge, number of student visits, details of the programs you have organized, the state of your group’s finances.

  • If you find a foundation that invites groups to apply for grants, call the grants administrator to find out how you can be invited.

  • When you have identified a possible grant source, look at the actual projects or organizations that have been funded.

  • Seek grants for projects that are innovative and promising rather than operating expenses—but you must also show how you plan to sustain the project after the initial funding runs out.

  • Consider a subscription to The Foundation Center. Its Foundation Directory has databases on 100,000 foundations, corporate donors and grantmaking public charities. Monthly and yearly subscriptions area available. The Foundation Center also offers free reports, search tools and tutorials, both online and in its offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York and Cleveland.