The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) is a collaborative granting initiative created by the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, with a bold vision to double the number of lions in Africa, bringing back the half we have lost. The LRF is managed by WCN and draws on a coalition of advisors with expertise in conservation and philanthropy to guide grantmaking and ensure that decisions that decisions are rooted in sound science and financial integrity.
The Lion Recovery Fund is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), a U.S. nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization, Tax ID #30-0108469. WCN is proud to be a top-rated wildlife conservation organization on Charity Navigator with a four star rating and platinum status with Guidestar, meaning every cent of every dollar donated goes directly to lion recovery, with zero administrative or overhead fees taken. The LRF receives input and guidance from an array of technical experts from a variety of different conservation organizations and academic institutions to ensure the best science and experience informs where we invest your contribution.
The lion population is estimated to have almost halved during the last quarter century. There are only about 20,000 lions remaining in Africa. The LRF aspires to double the number of lions, gaining back the half of lions we’ve lost in the past 25 years. Though ambitious, this goal is achievable: recent research indicates that the protected area network alone could support a population of lions three to four times the continental total if they were resourced and managed better.
The LRF has a three-pronged strategy for lion recovery:
The Lion Recovery Fund is funded by generous individuals, foundations, and companies. Each and every one, regardless of the size of the donation, makes a difference in securing the future of wild lions and wild Africa.
Zero. One thing that sets the LRF apart is our 100% model; every cent of every dollar donated goes directly to lion recovery, with zero administrative or overhead fees taken.
The Lion Recovery Fund invests in the best projects from any sized institution that falls into three broad categories:
In general, we work with known partners with an established track record of financial efficiency and accountability and strong reputation for achievements in the field. Prospective grantees must have a legal presence and have permissions in the country where work is proposed. In general, we prefer to give grants to NGOs working within an established framework such as 501c3 or equivalent status, and only provide grants directly to governments under exceptional circumstances. Campaign investments can include broader types of grantees, including for-profits offering highly leveraged investment opportunities.
The LRF typically issues grants of US$30,000 to US$150,000, with smaller requests being more likely to be successful.
Acknowledging the challenge associated with raising recurrent funding for projects, the LRF will consider up to three years of funding in circumstances where multi-year support is essential. In the event that repeat-funding is issued, the amount allocated would likely wane each year. Smaller requests stand a higher chance of being granted, and evidence of financial sustainability for projects is essential.
The LRF is not taking unsolicited proposals, as it is by invitation only. However, we are interested in learning about current lion conservation work being conducted across lion ranges. If you are interested in providing us with a summary of your work, please submit an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the work is deemed potentially eligible and high priority for LRF funding, we will reach out to you.
The LRF Granting Committee makes decisions on whether proposals will be funded, based on consensus. Unsuccessful applicants may or may not be invited to resubmit for the next round of funding.
There are no deadlines for applications, but the Granting Committee meets regularly throughout the year.
It will take all sources of support to restore Africa’s landscapes and ensure lions and people thrive alongside one another. The LRF focuses on driving private sector support (individuals, foundations, corporate) into the Fund to catalyze support from other sources. We are also working to create broader donor collaboration for Africa’s wild lands and wild life that includes public sector investment by national governments, and bilateral and multilateral aid.
The LRF is a catalytic fund, starting with an initial fundraising goal of US $5 million over three years to jump-start deeper investment in the best ideas and collaborations by innovative conservation partners and funders to recover lions and restore their landscapes.
The Lionscape Coalition, created in May 2019, is a partnership between the LRF and some of Africa’s leading tourism operators to support on-the-ground conservation efforts and encourage safari clients to support the future of lions. Each year, coalition members provide a philanthropic investment into the LRF for impact in landscapes where tourism operates and in areas beyond their areas of operation, so that parts of Africa off the beaten tourist track can benefit. The Lionscape Coalition will not only raise funds for lion conservation, but will help educate more people about the plight of lions and empower the travel industry to play an even bigger role in conservation.
Put simply, there are 4 aims of the Lionscape Coalition:
1) CONTRIBUTE: Each member makes an annual contribution to the LRF
2) INFLUENCE: 50% of each members’ contribution is allocated to projects outside tourism destination
3) EDUCATE: Guests, clients, and staff learn about the issues facing lions
4) COLLABORATE: To effect conservation and to expand conservation footprint