Instructions for Applicants

Before you Submit an Application

We encourage you to ask a mentor, or someone who has experience in your field, to review your draft proposal before you make an application. Such people may have valuable comments or suggestions that could improve the chances of your proposal being funded.

Making an Application

You can only make one funding application in any 12-month period. If your application is rejected, you will have to wait 12 months before you can make another one. If you receive a grant, you will not be able to make a further application for at least 12 months after the date of payment.

The Application Process

Applications are only accepted through our online system on this website.

Setting up a User Account

Before submitting an application for the first time, you MUST create a User Account with a valid email address. You will be then sent a password by email to allow you to log in. Once you are logged in you can change your password if required. You can also request a new password if you have forgotten your original one.

Personal Profile

You will need to create a Personal Profile that includes your contact and biographical information - this is VERY important as it will be included in your application. You should provide as much information as possible. Once created, the Profile Page will be used for any future applications. If you apply for additional grants, you MUST update your profile each time you apply. You can view or edit your profile at any time by following the links in the main menu.

The Application Form

The application form has text providing guidance for completing each section or question. Information in blue boxes is VERY important and you MUST read this carefully before completing the relevant question(s). There is a strict word limit on most questions - the online form will not allow you to exceed that limit. You can view the list of questions here, to assist with preparing your answers, but note that the form itself has more detailed guidance notes which must be followed.

If you are working on your proposal offline in Word or other editor, when you paste this information into the form, only line and paragraph breaks will be retained in the text. Other formatting, such as bold and italic text will be lost. Do NOT attempt to copy and paste tabular data into the form as you will lose any formatting.

Submitted applications are final and may NOT be edited: you will, however, have the opportunity to save and return to your application as you complete it online, before final submission. However, if you do not submit an application within 3 months of its creation, this information will be deleted from the system. You are free to re-apply if you wish, but any data entered in to the form will no longer be available.

Once submitted, you will be able to download a PDF version of the completed application for your records.

Processing your Application

Applications are normally processed within 2 months of receipt of the three references. Applications are considered in a two-stage process. All applications are reviewed initially by The Rufford Foundation office. Those that do NOT meet our basic criteria will be rejected at this first stage. Those considered for further processing pass to the second stage, review by external experts. You can check the progress of your application on the website.

Importance of References

References are critical to your application. We rely very heavily on these objective opinions of your project.

Applications cannot be processed until three references have been received. This is the main reason for delay in reviewing applications. It is your job to ensure that all references are sent promptly.

You will receive an automated response 4 weeks after submission if some or all of your references are still outstanding. If all three references have not been received 12 weeks after submission, your application will be rejected - this will mean that you will NOT be eligible to re-apply for at least 12 months.

If you applying for a 2nd Rufford Small Grant, 1st Booster Grant, 2nd Booster Grant or Completion Grant, at least one of your referees MUST not have been used for any previous application.

Please also note the following.

  • References MUST be in English.
  • All referees MUST know you personally. Do NOT choose referees you have never met, who you have only corresponded with by email/Skype or who have little knowledge of your project.
  • References MUST come from an institutional/organisational email address and NOT from web-based email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail.
  • References should be on a letterheaded document and signed by the referee.
  • One referee MUST be based at a well-established institution such as a major conservation NGO, university or government body.
  • One referee MUST be from the country where you will be working.
  • One referee MUST be from outside the country where you will be working.
  • If you are studying for an MSc, PhD or equivalent or have graduated from such studies in the past 3 years, one of your referees MUST be your supervisor.
  • Do NOT use more than one referee from the same institution.
  • Choose referees who you know will be able to provide a timely reference. If a referee is on extended fieldwork and non-contactable, it is up to you to find a suitable replacement.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be able to download a PDF copy including a Request for Referee Statement. Please forward this file to your chosen referees.

Confidentiality of References

Any reference is a confidential document provided by the referee directly to The Rufford Foundation. It is an impartial assessment of you and your project. It is NOT acceptable for you to draft a reference for a referee to sign and submit. It is ONLY acceptable for you to provide background information on the project to the referee. If we suspect that a reference or references have been drafted by you, the application will be rejected.

Feedback on Rejected Applications

Because of the number of applications we receive, it is NOT possible to enter into any discussions with you as to the reasons why your application has been rejected.

Payment of Grants

Grants will ONLY be paid to an organisation such as a nature conservation NGO or university; we will NOT pay the grant to an individual’s bank account. You need to ensure that you have arranged for an organisation to receive and manage the funds before you make your application. It is not necessary for you to work for the organisation, just that it is happy to accept and manage the funds on your behalf.

The Rufford Foundation Policy on Management Fees for Indirect Costs (Overheads)

The Rufford Foundation will only pay a grant to an organisation, not an individual. We do understand that any organisation may need to charge a management fee to cover indirect costs (overheads). However, given the nature and size of the grants, the foundation would not normally cover such management fees to allow the maximum amount to be directed towards conservation activities. In exceptional circumstances, the foundation may accept a management fee of up to 10% of the overall value of the grant. If an organisation requests a management fee in excess of 10%, we will require the applicant to find an alternative organisation to receive the funds.


Ensure you have all the necessary permits or permissions from the relevant authorities needed to undertake the work. We will need to see evidence of these.

Final Evaluation Report

Successful applicants are expected to submit a final evaluation report on their project as it reaches completion, usually one year after the funds are provided. Please download and use the Final Report template for this.


We follow the standard code relating to good governance in the UK (Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector). We expect you to follow similar standards when applying for a grant. In particular, you should consider the following issues when making an application and/or when publishing your results.

Acknowledging Others

When preparing an application you MUST acknowledge any contributions from other individuals or organisations that may have been important in the development of your project proposal. If you plan to use techniques that have been pioneered by others, ensure you have any necessary permissions that may be required.


If you are using photographs taken by others, ensure you have their permission and that you acknowledge them appropriately.


We take the issue of fraud very seriously. If we suspect fraud, either the application would automatically be rejected and the applicant barred from making future applications, or we would demand the return of any funds in full. Any suspected fraud would also be reported to the relevant authorities. We would consider any of the following as potential fraud.

  • If there is any suggestion that a project has been plagiarised (defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work and passing it off as one’s own”) from the work of another individual or organisation. If, after a grant has been approved, it is shown that the project was plagiarised, we will insist that the grant be returned in full.
  • If we suspect that the application has not been written by the applicant but by a third party.
  • If we consider that an applicant is using fraudulent references to try and obtain funding.
  • If funds given to an applicant are transferred to a third party without the permission of The Rufford Foundation.