Created by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private funds. The Foundation’s method is simple and effective: we work with a full complement of individuals, foundations, government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations to identify and fund the nation’s most intractable conservation challenges.
As no two issues are exactly alike, NFWF doesn’t rely on a set formula to protect and restore our Nation’s natural resources. We are creative and pragmatic, employing a wide array of conservation tactics to meet our mission. From purchasing land to teaching cranes to migrate, from creating incentive driven markets to address river restoration and environmental water needs to eradicating invasive species, the impact of NFWF’s contribution can be felt across the country.
NFWF’s partnerships are key to its success. Sitting at the nexus of the public and private communities, the Foundation’s myriad partnerships connect it with potentially every federal and state agency, key industry leaders, concerned private citizens, and non-profit leaders from the international to the local level. And the results speak for themselves. Since its establishment, NFWF has awarded over 10,000 grants to more than 3,500 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged – with its partners – more than $600 million into over $1.5 billion for conservation.
Our Keystone Programs represent NFWF’s core portfolio of conservation initiatives and demonstrate our commitment to making measurable progress in restoring at-risk species. We operate four Keystone Programs: birds, freshwater fish, wildlife and habitat, and marine and coastal ecosystems. Led by our team of PhD scientists, these Keystones address the challenges facing key endangered, threatened, or declining species that are indicators for overall ecosystem health. Success in restoring these populations will demonstrate measurable progress in protecting crucial landscapes and watersheds.
Consistent with the legislation passed by Congress creating the Foundation, we have partnerships with a number of federal agencies, corporations, and others to increase funding for conservation. Through these partnerships, the Foundation establishes Charter grant programs that address specific conservation needs, often in restricted geographic areas.
A key component of the Foundation's approach to conservation investment is the Impact-Directed Environmental Account (IDEA) program. The IDEA program receives, manages, and disburses funds that originate from court orders, settlements of legal cases, regulatory permits, licenses, and restoration and mitigation plans. However, IDEA funds can also arise from voluntary activities focused on preventative conservation.
Through the IDEA program, the Foundation acts as a neutral third-party fiduciary to manage funds for the benefit of government and private-sector stakeholders. The Foundation works collaboratively with these partners to invest and grow designated monies while at the same time helping to ensure that the funds are applied - typically at the direction of the designated stakeholders - to the most effective conservation and restoration projects.
Specifically, NFWF provides account management services, plus assistance with: project solicitation and selection, negotiation and administration of contracts and grant agreements, identification of leveraging opportunities, and evaluation of project outcomes.
NFWF has an impressive conservation track record: in 25 years, we have awarded over 10,000 grants to 3,500 organizations in the US and abroad. Several underlying principles guide our work: we forge innovative public and private-sector partnerships that bring expertise and resources to each project; we develop pioneering solutions to conservation challenges; and we work at the local level to address the root causes of habitat loss and species decline. Below are examples of model projects that illustrate our approach and accomplishments.