The Crowder-Messersmith Conservation Fund helps small, local conservation and/or education projects in developing countries. Its grants provide seed money to communities and individuals whose projects have not attracted major support from other sources. The Fund honors Orville Crowder and Don Messersmith, two leaders in nature tourism, as a means to further global nature conservation.
Grants have provided more than 75 projects with start-up costs since 1974. Audubon Naturalist Society has administered the Fund since 1999. Preference is given to projects that will benefit human, plant and animal communities of a particular habitat in an ecologically sustainable manner. Projects must: benefit the human, plant and animal populations of a particular habitat in an ecological sustainable manner, provide lasting significance to local residents, protect threatened or endangered species or habitats, contain a public education component, and involve the local population. Preference is given to applicants who have a record of prior conservation action relevant to the proposed project. Applicants from countries other than the United States are especially encouraged to apply. United States researchers planning work in foreign countries must have at least one local collaborator and consider how the project will benefit the local communities.