World Ocean

People, Places, and Policy

For those that want to donate to the pressing need for ocean conservation, but aren't sure what issue to donate to, the World Ocean Initiative addresses urgent and emerging needs. This initiative is dedicated to providing the necessary financial resources to projects that further the ocean health and the goals of the people working on its behalf. Formerly, this initiative has supported hurricane relief, habitat damage assessment, documentary film work, work related to ocean conservation legislation, and conferences that bring ocean conservation leaders together.

The World Ocean Initiative is designed for those who have an interest in saving our oceans but have no particular ocean conservation issue in mind to donate to. This Initiative is dedicated to the conservation and protection of all aspects of the oceans, as well as the protection of key places, capacity building projects and general support grants for marine conservation organizations; it addresses urgent needs, emerging issues, and provides grants in areas that do not fall within the guidelines of our more specialized initiatives.


The goal of the World Ocean Initiative is to provide financial resources to diverse and time-sensitive projects that further both ocean health and the goals of the people working so hard on its behalf.

In the past, we have used this initiative to support hurricane relief and storm-related habitat damage assessment and activities related to ocean conservation legislation in the USA and in other nations.  Grants from this initiative supported the development of marine conservation photography, literature, and journalism.  It has also allowed us to support documentary film work and other artistic/media projects that broadcast the message for ocean conservation.

We also strongly believe in the value of bringing together marine conservation groups to create partnerships and to learn from one and other. Thus, the World Ocean Initiative supports meetings and conferences that bring diverse groups of people together to create a stronger learning network of concerned ocean advocates working towards more effective solutions.

The World Ocean Initiative at The Ocean Foundation connects healthy ocean goals with:

•    People
•    Places, and
•    Policy

Great ocean governance depends on well-designed, strategic investments in all three.  It also depends on our ability to meet sudden, unexpected demands for support, monitoring, and even rescue. Donating to the World Ocean Initiative is your opportunity to allow The Ocean Foundation community to deploy our expertise and your donations on behalf of ocean conservation in a time-sensitive, creative framework.  Investing in the World Ocean Initiative ensures your support will go where the need is greatest on behalf of our global ocean and the communities that depend on it.  

At The Ocean Foundation, we have an international Board of Advisors comprised of experts who have been focusing on the healthy oceans and healthy human connection for decades.  Many of our very own Fiscal Sponsorship Projects are working on innovative approaches to studying the human health-ocean relationship, all the way down to the neurological pathways that are stimulated by the calm of the ocean.

We have used our World Ocean Initiative to provide support for relief and restorations efforts during both man-made disasters caused by oil spills or shipping disasters, and natural disasters such as hurricanes or tsunamis.  We believe that funds should be made available for both rapid response programs and long-term investments that promote proactive disaster mitigation.  These remedies help the animals, ecosystems, and communities that are most directly impacted by these disasters.  

At The Ocean Foundation, we have places to which we have special connections, through our work and our experience, and we are always looking to add more.

Baja California, the Sea of Cortez and Pro Peninsula, The Caribbean, Central America, Cuba, Dominica, Natural Marine World Heritage Sites such as Laguna San Ignacio, Loreto Bay National Marine Park, Mozambique, Chile, Gulf of Mexico (via our Gulf Restoration Fund), and St. Kitts


The Ocean Foundation is committed to promoting positive ocean public policy.  We place a high priority on participating in and supporting activities that help develop and shape healthy ocean public policy.  But as a 501(c)(3) public charitable corporation, TOF is subject to certain IRS limits on activities considered by the IRS to constitute direct political “lobbying.”

Accordingly, to achieve and preserve flexibility in our ocean policy efforts, TOF has elected the Section 501(h) “expenditure test” to measure TOF’s compliance with those IRS limits.  This test provides objective definitions of, and dollar allowances for, two kinds of lobbying:

•    “Direct Lobbying” which is communication with legislators or their staff about a specific legislative proposal(s), expressing a view, with intention to influence the legislation; and
•    “Grassroots Lobbying” which is communication with the public about a specific legislative proposal(s), expressing a view, or calling for action to communicate with a legislator to influence the legislation.

However, because of our Section 501(h) election, we do have the flexibility to invest in direct and grassroots lobbying efforts to achieve our corporate mission.

TOF also works with private foundations that wish to support the development of healthy ocean public policies.  While private foundations should of course rely on their own advisors, our understanding is that a private foundation may provide funds for general support to TOF as a public charity, even if that private foundation knows that TOF, or its supported project or activity, is engaged in some lobbying. If, however, a private foundation wishes to make a grant restricted to a specific TOF program activity that clearly includes some lobbying, we invite that private foundation to contact us to discuss the legally compliant ways that the private foundation can assist us in our public policy work.