Call for SMM Conservation Grant Proposals

In 2017, the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) established an endowment fund for marine mammal conservation. The purpose of this SMM Conservation Fund is to support research and education projects that will catalyze real action to protect the world’s most endangered marine mammals. By 2021, the SMM had built this fund to a point that it could issue the first call-for-proposals. Conservation grant proposals will be solicited biennially in July preceding each Biennial Conference and will be reviewed by members of the SMM Conservation Committee and Committee of Scientific Advisors. Awardees will be announced at the next Biennial Conference. The Conservation Fund Coordinator (appointed by the SMM President) aids in coordinating fundraising efforts, calls for proposals and proposal reviews. Proposals will be funded from the SMM Conservation Fund and from within-year donations to that Grant Program.

Individual awards of up to $25,000 (U.S.) may be made biennially. Awards are for periods of up to 2 years. Successful applicants may re-apply in subsequent years provided they meet all the conditions of the prior award, including the submission of a final report. Precedence is given to those who have not received funding in prior years. Recipients who subsequently have their SMM-funded research accepted for presentation at a SMM biennial conference will receive $500 toward travel expenses to the conference. The SMM Treasurer, President, and Chairs of the two review committees may enter into budget negotiations with submitters of highly ranked proposals whose budgets appear to be excessive or unrealistic.


Applicants must meet two eligibility requirements: 1. Be a member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and 2. Not be an elected official of the SMM Governing Board or Chair of the standing committees.

Awardees will be expected to maintain their SMM membership throughout the grant period. If financial need can be shown, fees may be waived for awardees renewing their membership.


Funds will be distributed incrementally to grant recipients by the Society’s Treasurer. Initial funding will be for 50% of the total award. Awardees can apply for the next increment (40%) after review and acceptance of a progress report by the Conservation Fund Coordinator and the Society’s Treasurer. The final payment (10%) shall be made after review and acceptance of a final report by the Conservation Fund Coordinator and the Society’s Treasurer.

Proposal Requirements

  1. Awards are limited to a maximum of $25,000 (US). This total amount may be expended over a maximum of two years.
  2. Projects must be relevant to an endangered species, subspecies, or IUCN-listed population or on risk factors directly affecting the persistence of such a taxon.
  3. Proposals must follow the word limits given in the application template (below) and must include a 1-2 page abbreviated curriculum vitae or resume.
  4. Proposals must include detailed justifications for all expenditures.
  5. Institutional overhead (if any) is limited to 10% of the grant amount (excluding personnel benefits, if any).
  6. Successful applicants may re-apply in subsequent years provided they meet all the conditions of the prior award; however, precedence is given to those who have not received funding in prior years.
  7. If the project is conducted in a country where the applicant is not an established resident, the project must include a component of community outreach and training within that country.
  8. Society Board members are ineligible as the primary applicant but can provide time on a pro bono basis. Board members are ineligible to vote on projects in which they will participate.
  9. Funding for all salaries cannot exceed 50% of the award.
  10. Letters of reference are required from two people familiar with the applicant and the proposed work. At least one of these letters must be from a SMM member.
  11. Early-career researchers are encouraged to coordinate with a more experienced researcher who would serve as a mentor throughout the project. Project mentors, if included, are not eligible to receive a stipend.


Reviewing criteria: Significance, the importance of the project in catalyzing real conservation action to protect the world’s most endangered marine mammals; Approach,  the appropriateness of the methods to acquire the information and the techniques to analyze the collected data; Probability, the likelihood of this project meeting its objectives; and Qualification, the ability of the applicant to conduct the project.


How to Apply

Applications are usually accepted biennially during the month of July prior to a SMM Biennial Conference. The submission deadline is midnight UTC 31 July. Applications are reviewed by the Conservation Committee and the Committee of Scientific Advisors between 1 August through 30 September, and recommendations for awards are provided to the Board of Governors of the Society. Awards are announced at the subsequent Biennial Conference.

Complete PDF applications should be combined into a single PDF attachment (Maximum size 10 MB) and emailed to In preparation of your proposal, please review the application template below.

Complete applications must include:
1.) Completed application template [Download application template]
2.) Budget (pasted from Excel spreadsheet into application template) [Download budget template]
3.) 2-page max CV or resume
4.) 2 letters of recommendation (One must be from a current SMM member)

Complete PDF application should be named using the following convention: [Last_name]_Conservation_Fund_2024.pdf

Former Recipients and Final Reports

Within one year of receipt of Society funds, grantees are required to provide the Society with a 600-word summary report on how the grant funds were used to support their project and a detailed spreadsheet of how funds were used. The summaries of each supported project will be published on the Society website.



The SMM Conservation Fund development, review and distribution process is overseen by the SMM Board and led by the Conservation Committee Chair, the Scientific Committee Chair and the Conservation Fund Coordinator. For questions about the fund and the grants, please contact the Conservation Fund Coordinators at