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 International foray program allows ANS members to experience and promote other cultures and environments and to help promote conservation awareness and protection beyond the United States. The fund helps small, local conservation and/or education projects in developing countries. Its grants provide seed money to communities and individuals whose projects have not attracted major support from other sources.
Grants have provided more than 75 projects with start-up costs since 1974. The Audubon Naturalist Society has administered the Fund since 1999. In 2011, the Fund supported projects to help protect and preserve endangered species in Oceania, Africa, and Asia. Two of the species that benefited from the grants are listed by the IUCN as near-threatened; the third is critically endangered.