National Geographic

What do I need to know about submitting a proposal?

Please apply for a grant using the online application. We do not accept mailed applications. All application materials must be submitted in English. See the What We Fund page for deadlines. Standard Grant applications should be submitted at least six months in advance of the anticipated project start date. Early Career Grant All applications should be submitted at least six months in advance of the anticipated project start date.


Who is eligible to submit a grant proposal?

We specifically encourage applicants from around the world. However, as a result of changes in Chinese law effective January 1, 2017, the National Geographic Society is unable to support new grantee work in mainland China. This applies to any projects conducted by mainland Chinese citizens anywhere and also applies to non-Chinese individuals or organizations proposing work in mainland China. We will still accept applications from residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau as long as the proposed work is outside of mainland China.

You might be required to obtain an Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license through the U.S. Treasury before the National Geographic Society will deliberate on your application if you are a resident/citizen of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or the Crimea region in Ukraine, or if you propose to conduct a project in one of these areas. See further information about these restrictions on the OFAC website. Please work with legal counsel to determine what authorizations are required.


Can an organization apply for a grant?

Yes, but the person within the organization who will lead the project should be the applicant and will be expected to meet the requirements of the grant program.


Is a local collaborator required for my project?

Yes. If you are planning to work outside of your home country, you must include the name and contact information for at least one local collaborator as a project team member in the application. Please note that the National Geographic Society does not help with visas for work performed outside of your home country.

Proposal Writing

What is the appropriate length of a proposal’s Project Description?

The individual responsible for carrying out the project should write the application. Answers should not exceed the word limits listed in each section (Background and Relevance, 500 words; Goals and Objectives, 300; Methodology, 750; Results, 300; Capacity Building, 200). This word count does not include references and works cited. We strongly suggest you type answers into a word-processing program and then copy and paste them into the application. The text fields in the online form do not allow formatting, so do not use bullets, bold, italics, or special characters.


What is a CV (curriculum vitae) and is one required?

A curriculum vitae or resumé is required. A CV is an extended resumé that presents biographical data, educational background, employment history, and scientific or media publication history. Do not include social security numbers, bank details, or any other private information in these documents.


What is the duration of approved projects?

Both Standard Grant and Early Career Grant projects typically last one year or less. If you are proposing a longer project, please contact


Can I make changes to my application before a decision has been made about it?

If you need to make substantive changes to your application, please email Changing your project start date will not expedite the review of your application.


Can I apply for more than one project?

You may submit a proposal as the project leader for only one project at a time. However, you can be a team member or co-applicant on multiple grants simultaneously. You must submit a final report and media from any previous grants for which you were the leader before applying for a new project.


Do I have to list reviewers? When will they be contacted?

Listing proposed reviewers is optional, and we will choose whether and when to contact them. Early Career Grant applicants should see the relevant “Early Career Grants” section on this page.


Why does the grant application require compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.K. Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption laws?

Virtually every country where we conduct grant-related activities has laws that prohibit corruption, including bribery. Some of these laws apply globally, including the U.S. FCPA and the U.K. Bribery Act. We take compliance with these laws very seriously. We expect our grantees to maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior, honesty, fairness, and transparency. We do not pay bribes or engage in other forms of corrupt financial conduct, and we will not tolerate a grantee or anyone else doing so with our funds.


What types of expenses can I include in my budget?

National Geographic Society funds usually support travel (including for teams, students, and participants) and fieldwork (including equipment and supplies). A minority of the requested budget can be allocated for lab work or analyses.

Equipment requests (e.g., computers, cameras, sampling equipment) may be included in the budget, but you will need to explain how the equipment is integral to the project and not available through other sources of funding. Exceptions are occasionally considered on a case-by-case basis, and applicants should contact before applying.


What are the requirements regarding stipends for team personnel?

Applicant and Team Members

If you or your team members are employed with full-time positions or full-time contracts at any organization, you are not eligible to apply for compensation to supplement salaries for those fully employed individuals. Full-time employment includes university faculty with at least nine-month appointments and school educators on 12-month contracts. If you or your team members do not receive a full-time salary (e.g., freelancers, adjuncts, school educators with nine-month contracts), you may request compensation at a maximum of 20 percent of the total requested budget. If you or your team members qualify for compensation, please itemize and justify this request in the Miscellaneous section of the application budget.

Assistants and Consultants

A project might require contracting with assistants or consultants without whom the project would not be possible. An assistant or consultant should NOT be listed as a team member. Project personnel who act as assistants might help in fieldwork for the length of the project, or a consultant might be hired as a specialist to help with a specific task. For example, a consultant might translate some materials or set up a computer network or website and then leave the project when the work is complete. Compensation for assistants and consultants is not restricted to the 20 percent maximum of the total amount requested. Assistants and consultants should receive compensation (i.e., stipends) above food and lodging that is consistent with local rates. If you include compensation for assistants and/or consultants, please itemize and justify this request in the Assistants and Consultants section of the application budget. 


May I include child care or elder care costs incurred during my project in the budget?

The National Geographic Society recognizes that conducting active fieldwork presents challenges for those responsible for child care and elder care. If you are the primary caregiver, or have an extenuating circumstance that would make it impossible to complete your fieldwork without additional funds for caregiving, we will allow expenses incurred due to caregiving. These costs must make up less than 25 percent of your total project budget and be no more than $5,000. If your regular caregiver is able to provide care or if you have another option for handling your caregiving needs, you are not eligible to include caregiving costs in your budget.

In order to include these costs in your proposal, please list the amount requested for caregiving under the Miscellaneous section of your application budget. Additionally, please provide details within that section to justify your need for dependent care and explain how you determined the caregiving budget (e.g., by hourly rate for a local caregiver, travel for the dependent). These funds can cover the cost of extra dependent care at home or on-site when grantees are in the field for their project, as situationally appropriate.


What types of expenses will National Geographic not accept in a grant budget?

Grant awards will not cover funding for scholarships, tuition, training courses, travel to conferences, study abroad programs, or journal publication fees. Institutional overhead and administrative costs are not allowed except for specific request for proposal (RFP) projects with budgets of more than $50,000. Please see the RFP page for details.


What does Funding From Other Sources mean?

This refers to any funding requests made to other organizations. Please list any funding already received in the text field labeled "Amounts and types of support already received for this project from institutions other than NGS." A separate section will allow you to list any other pending funding sources to which you have applied.


Why am I unable to complete the fields under Amount Requested From the Society or Total Project Budget?

Text is not allowed in these fields. Please enter amounts in U.S. dollars with no dollar sign ($).

Early Career Grants

What is the age limit for Early Career Grant applicants?

There is no age limit. However, applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application submission. Anyone with a Ph.D., an equivalent degree, or equivalent work experience does not qualify for an Early Career Grant and should apply for a Standard Grant instead.


I am a student. Should I apply in my advisor's name?

No. The individual responsible for carrying out the project should apply and should write the application.


I received a Young Explorers Grant. Am I eligible to apply for an Early Career Grant?

The Young Explorers Grant program has transitioned into the Early Career Grant program. If you have received a grant from either program, you may submit a new Early Career Grant proposal after you have successfully submitted a final report and media from your previous grant.


When are the deadlines for submission?

In 2018, we will review Early Career Grant applications on the same quarterly timeline as Standard Grants. Applications should be submitted at least six months before the project start date, but please check the website for relevant deadlines.


Do I have to list reviewers? When will they be contacted?

Early Career Grant applicants should include the name and contact information of one advisor, mentor, or supervisor. Any other suggested reviewers are optional and should have no immediate relationship with the applicant. We will choose whether and when to contact them.

After You Submit

I found mistakes in my proposal after it was submitted. How can I fix them?

Please contact for help. If you need to add team participants, send the full details for each new person: full name, email, affiliation, address, and phone number.


Will I know who reviewed my application?

No, we do not share the identity of our grant reviewers.


When can I expect to receive my grant award payment?

When you receive notification of a successful grant application, you will be asked to submit relevant paperwork. Please allow six to eight weeks for funds to transfer after you return all completed paperwork.


Are grant funds paid to the individual applicant or to an affiliated organization (e.g., university, agency, NGO)?

Grants are awarded to an individual—the applicant. However, you may choose for the payment to be made directly to, and administered by, your affiliated organization. Taxes may apply if the funds are granted specifically to an individual, and you should consult a tax professional for advice. The National Geographic Society cannot divide grant funds between multiple individuals or organizations.


Is it possible to change or extend my project dates after my grant has been awarded?

If the reasons are legitimate, project dates can be extended after checking with your appropriate program officer. However, an extension will not result in additional funding.


May I apply for a continuation of my grant?

We do not fund continuations of projects that have already received funds from the National Geographic Society. If you have a new project idea, you should submit a new application after you have successfully submitted a final report and media for your previous grant.


My application was declined. Can you share the reviewer comments?

Due to the volume of applications we receive, we do not provide feedback to applicants whose projects have been declined.


Can I resubmit an application for a project that has been declined?

No. The only exception is if you have been invited to do so by a National Geographic Society program officer.


What is the best way to correspond with National Geographic Society staff?

Please email with any questions. If you have been awarded a grant, your grant agreement paperwork includes contact information for relevant National Geographic Society staff members. To expedite email responses, please always write your full name and grant number in the subject line.

 Photograph by Erik Boomer

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