The Fund honors Orville Crowder and Don Messersmith, two leaders in nature tourism, as a means to further global nature conservation. The Crowder-Messersmith Conservation Fund, together with the Audubon Naturalist Society helps fund small, local conservation and education projects in developing countries by providing seed money to communities and individuals whose projects have not attracted major support from other sources
Grants have provided more than 160 projects in over 55 countries with start-up costs since 1974. ANS has administered the Fund since 1999.
The Timbaktu Collective in India received a grant in 2015 to provide conservation education to the local impoverished communities in the Anatapur District of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is severly threatened and many are found outside of protected areas. By providing "Wolf Walks" to approximately 2000 children ages 9-13, the Timbaktu Collective hopes to increase conservation knowledge and nature appreciation an rural communities.
In 2014 a grant was awarded in support of the recovery and conservation of the Ethiopian Wolf, an Ethiopian endemic with a population of approximately 450. The project generated new knowledge on the status and ecology of an unstudied wolf population; developed and implemented innovative community–based wild life conservation; increased awareness of the wolf’s conservation needs by the local people; and developed community-based conservation education.
A small group of dedicated Cape Verdians on Santiago received a grant for their project to rehabilitate, protect, and support eco-touristic use of beaches, lagoons, and the surrounding areas. Many of the island beaches are used by the critically endangered Leatherback Turtle, and the lagoons are important refuges for migrating shorebirds of conservation concern.
The Raptor Working Group of Nature Kenya initiates local community monitoring of raptors. In 2013 they proposed a novel sustainable funding scheme whereby the motor scooter they purchased to expand their reach would be rented to the volunteers and their families when not in use; those funds will provide income to keep the project going in the future.