The following steps take you through the complete life cycle of a grant, from the initial application to the end of the project.
We've noted the typical durations for each step, but please keep in mind that these are highly variable depending on several factors.
1. CEPF opens a call for proposals.
We announce all calls for proposals on the CEPF grants webpage. For each call, we accept letters of inquiry for approximately six weeks.
Before submitting a letter of inquiry, applicants should check their eligibility and are encouraged to reach out to the grant director—for large grants—or regional implementation team (RIT) staff—for small grants—to discuss the project idea.
Please note that CEPF only accepts proposals in response to open calls. Proposals submitted outside of an open call will not be considered.
2. Submit a letter of inquiry.
Large-grant applicants submit letters of inquiry online, through the online grants database ConservationGrants. Small-grant applicants submit letters of inquiry using an offline template that will be provided in the open call instructions. (Read tips for submitting a successful letter of inquiry)
3a. Applicant prepares a full proposal (large grants only).
Within several months of the call closing, large-grant applicants will be notified if their project idea will continue to the next round of consideration. These applicants will have a defined period of time (typically around two months, although this may vary among hotspots) to submit a complete project proposal through the online portal ConservationGrants.
In addition to the proposal, the following documents will be requested:
- Anti-terrorism screening form
- Financial questionnaire and supporting documents
- W9 or W8-BEN-E tax form (form required by U.S.)
- Bank account information
- Signatory information (name and title of person authorized to sign the grant agreement on behalf of the grantee organization)
- Cash flow estimate for first four months of grant (cash expected to be needed for the first quarter of the grant)
The large-grant due diligence review may result in CEPF requiring that a project-specific bank account be opened prior to the project’s start (for instance, if a grantee lacks an automated, double-entry accounting system and/or if they lack adequate internal controls).
3b. Applicant submits additional information if required (small grants only).
Successful small-grant applicants do not need to submit a project proposal; however, the RIT may request additional information (e.g., detailed budget, work plan, financial questionnaire, bank details, etc.).
4. Applicant prepares safeguard documents (if required).
All CEPF grants (large and small) will be screened against our safeguard policies.
If a project triggers one or more safeguard policies, the grantee will be asked to prepare the relevant safeguard document(s) and incorporate related measures into the project's design.
Safeguard documents are prepared by the grantee in parallel with proposal design and must be approved prior to approval of the project.
5. Applicant signs grant agreement.
Successful applicants for large grants will sign a grant agreement with Conservation International, one of CEPF's global donor organizations, which hosts the CEPF Secretariat and provides supporting legal and financial services. Template grant agreement available in English (PDF - 485 KB), French (PDF - 803 KB), Portuguese (PDF - 671 KB) and Spanish (PDF - 680 KB).
Successful applicants for small grants will sign a grant agreement with the RIT for the hotspot.
6. Large-grant recipients receive orientation training.
Large-grant recipients are required to attend a CEPF online orientation training within the first three months of their project's start date. Details on this training will be provided shortly after countersigning the grant agreement.
- Recording of English webinar, October 2018 (MP4 - 128 MB)
- Recording of French webinar, January 2021 (MP4 - 218 MB)
- Recording of Portuguese webinar, June 2019 (MP4 - 175 MB)
- Recording of Spanish webinar, November 2017 (MP4 - 94 MB)
7. Grantees gather baseline monitoring information.
New grantees need to submit baseline monitoring information within three months of the start date of their grant. The precise information required depends upon the purpose of the grant, but the following tools are most commonly required:
- Gender mainstreaming tracking tool – required for all grantees (one per organization)
- Civil society organizational capacity tracking tool – required for all grantees registered in one of the countries of the hotspot where the project will take place (one per organization)
- Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) – required for grantees working to strengthen management of protected areas (one per protected area)
8. Grantees implement and report on projects.
Recipients of large grants must submit financial reports each quarter and progress reports every six months through ConservationGrants.
Additional reports may also be requested and most commonly relate to compliance with CEPF’s financial and safeguard policies.
The reporting requirements for small-grant recipients vary, and are outlined in the grant agreement.
9. CEPF Secretariat and RIT staff make site visits.
Members of the CEPF Secretariat and the RITs perform financial supervision missions and programmatic site visits to selected grantees each year.
10. CEPF and RITs help grantees address delays and challenges (as needed).
CEPF recognizes that due to unforeseen challenges, project delays may sometimes happen. When this occurs, grantees may request an extension to the duration of the grant (“no-cost extension”) or other changes to the deliverables or budget.
For large grants, amendment requests can be submitted through ConservationGrants. For small grants, amendment requests can be submitted by email to the RIT.
CEPF and the RITs will try to accommodate reasonable requests supported by adequate justifications; however, they do reserve the right to reject any amendment request.
11. Grant closes.
Within two months after the grant ends, a final completion report—including quantitative data on impacts—must be submitted. For large grants, this report will be completed through ConservationGrants. For small grants, the report will be completed offline, using a template provided by the RIT.
An important component of these reports are reflecting on lessons learned. Guidelines on lessons learned can be found in English (PDF - 88 KB), French (PDF - 87 KB), Portuguese (PDF - 77 KB) and Spanish (PDF - 82 KB).
Grantees that submitted baseline monitoring tools at the beginning of their grant will be required to submit final versions at the end, to show any changes that occurred during the project.
Grantees are encouraged to send project photos and videos to CEPF's communication team at email@example.com.
The final completion report, and any supplementary technical reports, will be made publicly available through CEPF's project database.