Philanthropic foundations have contributed significantly to global environmental governance as sponsors of conservation projects, networks, policy initiatives, and research around the world. In 2018, our research team initiated a year-long participatory planning process to design a research project focused on the roles and impacts of philanthropic funding on marine conservation governance. The empirical focus for our research will be in Fiji and Palau, where The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is exiting after decades of continuous support for marine conservation. As social scientists, our goal with this research is to deepen critical understanding of the opportunities and challenges of philanthropic engagement in marine conservation for all affected stakeholders, especially regarding the factors that shape responses to, and effects of, shifts in donor funding. Ultimately, we hope that the results of this research will contribute to effective, equitable, and robust marine conservation by providing insight into how foundations work and how grantees and others may engage with foundations in the future.