I just received a copy of the 2005 annual report of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The aim of the fund is to conserve biodiversity hotspots; the most biodiverse yet most threatened regions.
The fund received $29.5 million from donors, and spent $1.5 million or about 6% of this amount on fundraising.
It gave new grants of $23.3 million, with non-grant expenses (business development, monitoring and evaluation etc.) 14% of total expenses.
Just glancing at the list of grants, there seem to be a lot of grants of just under $20.000, some much larger, and a tiny one of $485 for Development of a Business Plan for a Donkey Trekking Route in Northern Cederberg.
The problem with small grants is, of course, the cost of processing the grant applications and following up with monitoring and evaluation. The risk is that the administrative expenses become an unacceptable larger proportion. CEPF tackles this problem by enabling local civil society groups to manage small grants programs.
But overall the annual report paints a picture of a remarkably efficient organization doing work that is really worthwhile. Is it also effective? That will be shown by the long term conservation of the hotspots.