Private Conservation Funding

In an emerging conservation future—one in which people increasingly rely on local and regional natural resources and ecosystems for our livelihoods, health, and community vitality—private foundations will undoubtedly play a major role in securing the future of our communities, forests, water, and food systems. As such, we seek to understand recent trends in foundation giving in the northeast, anticipate where these trends are headed, and provide guidance to both funders and conservation practitioners on how they can work together to achieve conservation outcomes.

This 2019 report documents trends in private foundation giving to conservation organizations in New England and New York (the “northeast”) between 2004 and 2014. To contextualize trends in conservation grantmaking, we also present findings on foundation support for the environment more broadly, including energy, climate change, and community development. We conducted this research to complement Highstead’s 2016 report, Public Conservation Funding in New England, with the goal of painting a more complete picture of how conservation was financed in the northeast region between 2004 and 2014. The findings shared in this report represent the most significant insights from our research, which was based on quantitative analysis of data obtained from Foundation Center, as well as interviews with representatives from top environmental grant makers in the northeast.

Public Conservation Funding

Public Conservation Funding in New England Report

“Public Conservation Funding in New England: Recent Trends in Government Spending on Land Protection” is a joint Highstead-Harvard Forest publication released in 2016. The report pulls together a collection of data on public conservation funding at the federal, state, and local levels for all six New England states. We hope that this report will be a valuable reference for conservationists working in New England and a foundation for conversations about current and future avenues for increased conservation funding in the region.

An overview of the main results of this research is available here.

The full report is available here and includes:

  • A regional overview identifying the key programs bringing federal conservation dollars to New England
  • State-by-state comparisons that highlight where and how public funds are being used to protect land
  • Trends in farmland preservation funding in each New England state
  • Individual state summaries including state-level programs, funding mechanisms, and recent spending trends
  • A full list of data sources and methodology notes

Summaries by State