Our approach


Each species is unique. So too is SOS - Save Our Species. SOS is a conservation tool for urgent action that has been designed to fill a niche in the complex conservation community by harnessing the ressources and expertise of a network of global institutions and funding the projects most likely to have a positive impact.

SOS model is based on 5 key principles:

  • Neutrality: Use a system of independent species experts to evaluate projects on a voluntary basis. Funding is available both to Members and non-members of the IUCN.
  • Efficiency: Fund existing conservation actors already on the frontlines worldwide.
  • Scale: Use thematic calls for proposals and special initiatives leveraging species action plans to scale up impact of every dollar invested. 
  • Quality: Apply best in class species project and portfolio management, reporting and communications to ensure implementation is optimised.
  • Accountability: Report on spending and on project impacts via publicly available documents including project final technical reports.

SOS process:

  • SOS achieves its objective by channeling funds to NGOs for one and two year grants according to strategic conservation directions informed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
  • Funding applications respond to Calls for Proposals issued periodically by SOS, which are then evaluated and shortlisted with the support of relevant members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
  • Projects are ultimately selected by members of the SOS Technical Advisory Group and approved by the SOS Donor Council. The current portfolio includes more than 100 projects chosen for their potential to deliver meaningful conservation impact beyond the term of the project funding period.

SOS provides two types of grants:

  • TSG: Threatened Species Grants (25,000 to 800,000 $US) for which calls with specific Strategic Directions are issued on a regular basis. Calls for proposals and other news about grant availability are announced on this page. Projects above 200,000 $US will be awarded on an exceptional basis. Special Calls for Proposals targeting specific threatened species can also be issued on an ad-hoc basis.

  • RAG: Rapid Action Grants (up to 25,000 $US) available on an ongoing basis and supporting conservation actions in case of emergency situations. These grants will be awarded to support a special class of projects aimed at addressing immediate threats that require targeted specific action, with high chance of generating rapid positive results. Rapid Action Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Please note that Rapid Action Grants applications with an end date beyond 31 March 2016 cannot be currently accepted.

Informed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™

  • Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species™ (the Red List) has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.



  • SOS only funds projects protecting species that are recognised as globally threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Threatened is an umbrella term for species that are officially classified either as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. The latest data indicates that the number of threatened species already recorded, assessed and available for consultation on the Red List is 23,250 species, from a total of 79,837 assessed species.

Powered by the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC)

  • The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest science-based network in the world. Consisting of more than 10,000 volunteer experts from almost every country, the network is structured mainly in specialist groups all working together towards achieving the vision of "a just world that values and conserves nature through positive action to reduce the loss of diversity of life on earth".
  • In total the SSC includes 140 Specialist Groups, Red List Authorities, Task Forces and Sub-Committees. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants, fungi or animals while others focus on topical issues, such as reintroduction of species into former habitats or wildlife health.
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