Tips for Success

Application composition and project design tips are provided to help applicants improve their chances of receiving an AZA Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grant. Proposals which fail to follow specified requirements defined in the application instructions will not be included in the two-tiered review and selection process.

Follow the Application Instructions

Be sure to follow the application instructions carefully. Proposals that do not conform to the application instructions will not be included in the two-tiered review process.

Check Your Grammar

Check for spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors. Each year several proposals are given lower ratings because they contain grammatical errors that reflect poorly on the potential quality of the project and project team.

Project Design

To encourage applicants to utilize results-based planning, management, and monitoring in their projects, the CGF application uses adaptive management terminology taken from the Conservation Measures Partnership’s Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. For detailed descriptions of terms used in the application, review the Open Standards.

  • Clearly state the rationale for the project and document the rationale with citations and data.
  • Make sure that the project design and methods are clearly outlined in the proposal and that they fit the project goals. Specifically, be sure that sample sizes are not too small, methods described will produce the desired statistics, and the design of the overall project will produce useful results.
  • If the goals and the design of a project require hypothesis testing, specific hypotheses must be stated in the proposal.
  • The scope of the project should not be too broad, but instead should focus on a specific goal or outcome that can be accomplished in the stated time frame and that will produce measurable results.
  • The proposal should not propose to develop a technique or method and apply that technique or method within the same proposal. Applicants should first submit a proposal to develop a technique or method and then return to CGF to request funding for the application phase if the development phase is successful.


  • The budget should be clear, complete, and not inflated or exaggerated.
  • The proposal should demonstrate the potential to yield a high return on investment in terms of conservation impact. Proposals are often rejected because they are very costly relative to the anticipated benefits.


  • The PIs must be individual AZA members at the Professional Associate, Professional Affiliate, Professional Fellow, or Student level and should be clearly qualified for the project and their role as the PIs. Collaborators' potential contributions and qualifications should also be clearly stated in the proposal.
  • When feasible and appropriate, incorporate local community participation in field projects.
  • If the project contains an educational component, it is strongly advised that an educator is involved in both the design and evaluation of the education section.

How Do Reviewers Define an "Educational Component"?

Educational components are defined as programming and interpretation for targeted audiences such as school groups, teachers and families, and other community stakeholders. Other types of communication, for example, graphics, exhibits, posters, brochures, etc. may represent an educational component but only if they identify a target audience. Proposals may differ in what educational component they include but should clearly explain the reasoning behind selecting, and the means that will be used to evaluate the efficacy of, this component.

How Do Reviewers Define "Educator"?

Educators should be trained or have experience in formal or informal educational programming and be involved in the development of any educational component. If you have questions or concerns about the educational component of your proposal, please contact the Conservation Education Committee Chair, Kelly Matis.


Proposals MUST include a signed, electronic, Statement of Institutional Support from each institution that employs a PI, is listed as a supporting or collaborating institution, or is listed as a participant in any capacity in the proposal.

Links to Other AZA Programs

Collaboration between a CGF project and one or more AZA Animal Programs is beneficial, although not required, and should be clearly identified in the proposal.

Impact Considerations

Projects with a broad potential impact, that benefit a large number of individual animals or species, and/or will have long-term, positive impacts on multiple AZA-accredited institutions or partners typically receive higher reviewer ratings than those that do not.


CGF grant applications are due no later than March 15th at 5:00 pm EDT each year. Submissions received after this date/time stamp will not be accepted for any reason. Each year glitches in submission occur and proposals must be rejected for not meeting the submission deadline.

I Accept

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. If you continue using our website, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website and you agree to our Privacy Policy.