What is the Elephant Crisis Fund?

The Elephant Crisis Fund was established by Save the Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Network with the aim of averting the destruction of elephant populations across Africa. Such a challenge demands identifying which elephant populations are most in need of help, choosing the most effective partners and project to support, and more strategic philanthropy and funding – all cornerstones of the ECF.  To date, the Elephant Crisis Fund has funded some of the best-conceived interventions in the most critical hotspots to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand for ivory. It is the biggest and most effective elephant-focused fund in the world, according to the EU’s report “Larger than Elephants”.

Who manages the ECF? 

The Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) is an initiative led by Save The Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Save the Elephants provide its 50 years of elephant expertise and its network of experts to identify the best projects, while WCN supports through its philanthropic endeavors, fiscal management responsibility, and technical input. The Wildlife Conservation Network serves as the fiscal sponsor for the Elephant Crisis Fund. Wildlife Conservation Network is a U.S. nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization,Tax ID #30-0108469. The Wildlife Conservation Network is proud to have a top ranking amongst wildlife conservation organizations on Charity Navigator with a four star rating and platinum status with Guidestar, meaning every cent of every dollar donated goes directly to elephants.

What is the goal of the ECF? 

Africa’s elephants are in deep peril. In the last decade, the continental population of elephants has fallen by at least 110,000 (IUCN, 2016). The ECF has one goal—to end the ivory crisis. The ECF funds anti-poaching, anti-trafficking, and demand reduction projects around the world. The ECF is a $50 million dollar fund; we have already reached $23.5 million of that goal, with a target of $50 million by 2023. 

What are the strategies that the ECF employs? 

The Elephant Crisis Fund has three programmatic areas in which it invests:
Halting Poaching: Ending the slaughter in Africa
Eliminating Trafficking: Closing down the criminal syndicates behind the ivory trade
Ending Ivory Demand: Stopping the buying that drives the killing of elephants

Who funds the ECF? 

The ECF is funded primarily through the private sector – through the generosity of individuals and private foundations, and through innovative collaborations with brands. Save The Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network co-fund the costs of administering the ECF to ensure that 100% of donations to the ECF can reach the field. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation provided funding to launch the ECF and continues as its largest single supporter. 

What proportion of ECF funding is used for overhead and admin? 

Zero. The ECF maintains a 100% donation model. Every dollar raised is directly deployed to projects that protect elephants, with zero administrative fees or overhead.

What kind of conservation projects does the ECF support? 

The ECF funds organizations doing effective work on elephant protection in priority areas, enabling institutions large and small, international and local, to have access to emergency and innovation funding to address the elephant crisis.

What kind of partners and organizations are typically funded? 

Usually, 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.

What kind of projects are considered priorities for ECF funding?

The purpose of the ECF is to fund the best ideas, rather than single institutions, and provide maximum political, financial, and technical leverage as quickly and efficiently as possible.  We are not making a judgement on what the most important elephant populations are, or the most important interventions, but rather we seek to invest our limited resources carefully to maximize the ECF's overall impact on elephant conservation given the size of our fund and our ability to deploy those funds quickly and efficiently.

Grants typically cover three months to two years of strategic investment, but in general we prefer shorter time spans. 

We are able to provide funds quickly and with minimum administrative burden. We prefer to fund the following type of projects: 

1. Filling a gap where other funds are not available fast enough to deal with urgent problems. 

2. Rapid response to an immediate problem before  it escalates out of control. 

3. Funding vital activities that more conventional donors will not cover, for example informer payments. 

4. Funding unconventional projects but where the rewards in terms of elephant conservation are potentially high. 

5. Funding novel approaches where a proof of concept is needed. 

6. Providing funding to help bring partner organizations together, especially to deal with poaching or trafficking across international borders. 

7. Providing funding for effective organizations which might otherwise not have access to donors.

8. Funding for elephant populations with high local conservation significance overlooked by more conventional donors because of their small size. 

9. Funding projects where STE’s technical expertise and network will provide synergy. 

What kind of projects are not eligible for EFC funding? 

The streamlined administration of the ECF means that we cannot accept unsolicited proposals because of the time involved assessing unknown potential partners and their proposals. We do not fund year-on-year recurring costs.

We prefer not to fund the following types of activities.

• Long term support for recurring operating costs, where there is no plan or expectation of finding alternative donors. 

• Contributions to large projects funded by other donors in such a way that the relatively small contribution of ECF disappears into the mix, unless our funding is critical for leveraging other sources. 

• Research activities or surveys. 

• Support to compromised law enforcement agencies. 

• General intelligence work that has little chance of leading to judicial outcomes. 

What size of grants does the ECF issue? 

The ECF tends to fund projects between $15,000 and $150,000.

Who makes decisions about which projects are supported?

A five-person board made up of members of Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network holds monthly allocation meetings, at which granting decisions are made.