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MBZ Fund offers Covid-19 relief grants for overhead costs

Abu Dhabi, UAE. Aiming to ensure the survival of grassroots conservation organizations 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 supported more than 2,150 projects in over 180 countries, targeting 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 organizations avoid layoffs, cutbacks, or ceasing operations completely, The MBZ Fund will 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.

Razan Al Mubarak, the Founding Managing Director of the MBZ Fund, said 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 organizations. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organization had been negatively impacted, with 57 percent reporting their organization was experiencing financial difficulties and 22 percent reporting their organizations planned to eliminate jobs. Many grantees highlighted the loss of revenue for their organizations due to park, zoo, and aquarium closures, the decline in eco-tourism, and the reduction in student enrollment for courses and fieldwork experiences. A summary report of the survey can be viewed here.

“It’s clear that conservation organizations cannot protect threatened species if they cannot meet basic needs like staff salaries and rent,” said Ms. Al Mubarak. “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 organizations 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 organizations to adapt to the challenging financial circumstances brought on by the pandemic, particularly those small, locally-based conservation organizations in developing economies working in sites of global species conservation value.

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.