Funding guidelines

Funding guidelines for Keystone and Small grants

Funded Programmes


  • The focus of the Foundation is on charismatic marine megafauna, and more specifically on elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates).
  • Most of the projects supported by the Foundation currently fall into one or more of three major programme areas:
    – Research
    – Conservation
    – Education

General Approach


  • The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) is committed to supporting activities that have the capacity to make a real difference to the health of the oceans and to the survival of threatened aquatic species and habitats.
  • With a view to achieving this aim, the Foundation has developed a policy of supporting, in particular, applicants working on exceptional projects, on remarkable species or habitats and/or in unique locations.
  • The purpose of this policy is to support research, conservation or educational projects that are capable of attracting significant public attention and that, as a result, may genuinely increase public and government awareness of the urgent need to protect the marine environment.
  • As part of this approach, the Foundation requires all grant holders to undertake public awareness and environmental educational activities (giving talks, issuing press releases, etc.) as part of their project.
  • Foundation staff (including the dedicated SOSF Communications team) is available to assist grant holders in such public relations work, and grant holders are expected to collaborate with them in preparing public awareness materials.

Application Process


  • The application process, deadlines and conditions are different depending on the grant category:
  • All applications are reviewed by the SOSF Scientific Committee, and external scientific advisors may be approached for their comments and review. The final approval will be made by the Board of the Foundation.
  • The application form is only available in English and must be completed in English to be eligible for consideration.
  • All applications must be completed online, and individual deadlines as indicated must be respected.
  • If successful, the SOSF grant agreement between the Foundation and the Project Leader must be sent back by the deadline. This agreement cannot be modified.

Financial Restrictions


  • The costs of short-term employees or the short-term extra costs of an individual’s participation in a project may be eligible, if justified.
  • The Foundation does not support publication-associated costs through regular funding.
  • The Foundation does not support the attendance of conferences in allocated funding as it is already providing Student Travel Grants to the AES, the EEA, the OCS and Sharks International.
  • The Foundation does not support satellite tags in SOSF Small Grants.
  • The Foundation will not consider applications in which more than 10% of requested funding is allocated to travel expenses. The Foundation promotes local projects by local people.
  • All equipment funded remains the property of the NGO or institution.
  • The Foundation is not able to pay overheads, administration and handling fees to large commercial or non-commercial, governmental or non-governmental institutions or organisations (such as Universities or Non-Governmental Organisations). SOSF funds project leaders and projects.
  • Joint funding/co-funding of a project by SOSF with another funding agency is welcomed, but not essential.

Obligations of Grant Holders


  • Grants are awarded subject to the applicant and/or their organisation agreeing to a simple contract valid under the laws of Switzerland (the country in which the Foundation is registered).
  • Project leaders are required to report progress with their projects by completing and submitting:
    • A series of high quality “web blogs” posted to The Foundation website on the Project page and/or on its social media networks. These blogs should include a strong visual component (images/videos that won’t be used for any other purposes without the Project Leader’s approval). The Foundation’s communication team may assist the Project Leader with his contribution upon request from the Project Leader.
    • Upon completion of the project, a complete report, including a financial account summary accounting for the use of the funds provided, on the project consistent with the expectations of the Foundation, must be submitted no later than the end of the last grant awarded.
    • At least twenty high resolution (original files and preferably in RAW), high quality and original photographs (‘Contract Images’) and if possible also some HD video files. Decent visual material which will be used to promote the Project Leader’s work needs to be supplied to The Foundation using either WeTransfer or Dropbox. The Foundation will need high resolution original files.
    • Each photograph should include a short caption/description of the image. Any visuals submitted to The Foundation will be credited to the photographer. The copyright will remain with the photographer, and he/she grants The Foundation the right to publish these media in non-commercial SOSF publications (i.e. websites, ePublications, newsletters, magazines, books, annual reports, social networks, etc). The photographer retains full and exclusive commercial rights. The Project Leader and the photograph author allow The Foundation to include these images on The Foundation Media Library ad infinitum and the right to use these images for non-commercial purposes. The Project Leader guarantees The Foundation to have obtained from any photographer the right for The Foundation to use the materials The Project Leader is providing to The Foundation (i.e. photographer’s right, image right and notably for individual, buildings, etc…).
    • Upon request, an original article (1,500+ words) written by the Project Leader by a date discussed with The Foundation team. The communication team will collaborate with the Project Leader to decide on the content and nature of the article. This article is to be included in The Foundation publications (i.e. websites, ePublications, newsletters, magazines, books, annual reports, etc). A selection of the photographs in (a) should complement this article. The Project Leader warrants to The Foundation that he is the exclusive owner of all rights, title and interest, including all intellectual property rights on any articles provided to The Foundation.
    • Electronic copies (PDF) of all media (newspaper, magazine, web, radio and television) and any scientific publication related to the Project.
    • The Project Leader shall, given reasonable advance notice, permit The Foundation access to the Project so that The Foundation may have the opportunity of assessing the progress of the Project and where appropriate offering advice or other support.
  • The Project Leader shall, given reasonable advance notice, permit The Foundation access to the Project so that The Foundation may have the opportunity of assessing the progress of the Project and where appropriate offering advice or other support.
  • It is Foundation policy to promote, whenever possible, public awareness of marine conservation issues. Accordingly, grant holders are required to incorporate elements of public awareness into their work and to collaborate with the Foundation in publicising their project.

Funding Guidelines for Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

General Approach


  • At the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), we have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories.
  • While we are specifically looking for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries and to the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life.
  • We are particularly seeking to support early career and emerging storytellers and aim to encourage new voices with new perspectives and photographic approaches. Applicants should therefore have no more than five years of professional experience in any photography-related discipline.
  • More than two-thirds of our previous photo grant applicants were male and almost 80% came from North America and Europe. While we welcome applications from all backgrounds, in an effort to actively remedy imbalances pervasive throughout the industry we especially encourage women and applicants from South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as from underrepresented communities, to apply for this opportunity.
  • Applications will be accepted both directly via open call and through nomination.

Application Process


  • The Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant application process consists of a one-stage online application. The form consists of a few questions and requires submission of a portfolio (20 images) and photo story (10 images).
  • Only one application will be accepted from any one applicant.
  • If an applicant has any other current SOSF grant, they cannot apply for a new grant.
  • All applications will be reviewed by the Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant judging panel and require final approval from the Foundation’s Board of Directors
  • The application form is only available in English and must be completed in English to be eligible for consideration.
  • All applications must be completed online, and individual deadlines as indicated must be respected.
  • If successful, the SOSF Grant agreement between the Foundation and the applicant must be sent back by the deadline. This agreement cannot be modified.

Entry Requirements


  • The SOSF Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant is open only to emerging photographers, which means applicants must have no more than five years of professional experience in any photography-related discipline.
  • Application must be via the SOSF grant online portal:
  • All applicants must complete the written questionnaire as part of their application.
  • All images entered are used only for judging purposes.
  • Applicants must be 18 years or older.
  • Employees of SOSF and anyone connected with the administration of the competition are not eligible to apply for this grant.
  • The closing date for the 2021 SOSF Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant is November 30th at 18:00 Central European Time. All applications must have been submitted by this date.
  • The conditions set out in the entry rules are binding.
  • By submitting your application, you automatically agree to abide by the entry rules of the SOSF Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant.
  • The Best of Portfolio must contain no fewer and no more than 20 images.
  • Photo Stories must include no fewer and no more than 10 images and must conform to a relevant theme.
  • A maximum of three photo-story images can be repeated as part of the Best of Portfolio.
  • Digital images must meet the following specifications:
    • Images should be 1600 pixels in width.
    • Each image must be saved in the JPEG format with a high-quality setting.
    • An embedded ICC profile is required. Adobe RGB or sRGB is recommended for colour images, Gamma 2.2 for black and white. No CMYK.
  • All required image information (creation date, location, detailed caption) must be included in the metadata of the image files.
  • Applicants are expected to enter images that are an accurate representation of the natural world. Adding or removing objects, such as animals or parts of animals, plants, people etc., is not allowed.
  • Digital adjustments including tone and contrast, burning, dodging, cropping, sharpening, noise reduction and cleaning of sensor dust spots are permitted as long as they comply with the grant’s principles of not deceiving the viewer or misrepresenting the reality of nature.
  • Applicants must not do anything to kill, injure or distress any fauna or flora or destroy their habitat in an attempt to capture an image.
  • Only single-frame images will be accepted. Composite and multiple-exposure images will not be accepted. Images with added borders, backgrounds or other effects will not be accepted.
  • The jury is the ultimate arbiter of the standards above and may at its discretion request the original, un-retouched RAW file as recorded by the camera.
  • By submitting an application, the applicant grants the SOSF the right to share the submitted portfolios and photo stories on the SOSF website and SOSF social media if they are selected as a finalist. Any visuals used will be credited to the applicant and the copyright will remain with the applicant. The applicant also retains the full and exclusive commercial rights.

Obligations of Grant Holders


  • SOSF Ocean Storytelling Photography Grantees agree to document a marine conservation project specified by the SOSF for a period of three to four weeks in 2022.
  • They will be paid a fee of US$350 per day and all expenses will be covered.
  • The copyright of all materials produced while on assignment remains with the grantee.
  • The grantee will be expected to show (presentation and/or exhibit) the work created while on assignment during an all-expenses-paid trip to a photographic festival or conservation conference in 2022/2023.
  • The winning grantees give the SOSF permission to use all materials produced on assignment, including photographs, video and sound, exclusively for a 12-month period. At the end of that time the grantee is free to license or sell the work to other media, but the SOSF retains indefinite non-exclusive non-commercial usage rights, which include, but are not limited to:
    • A photo essay for Save Our Seas or National Geographic magazines.
    • The SOSF website and social networks.
    • All media related to the promotion of the SOSF Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant.
    • Not-for-profit conservation and awareness usage by the SOSF and its conservation scientists.
  • All applicants agree that, if awarded the grant, they will participate in related publicity and agree to the use of their name and likeness for the purposes of advertising, promotion and publicity without additional compensation.
  • The decision of the organisers on all matters relating to the competition is final and binding. The organisers reserve the right to amend the rules and to waive breach of the rules at their sole discretion, acting reasonably.