Matching Awards Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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For Grant Seekers

For Award Recipients

For Grant Seekers

What is the National Forest Foundation's Matching Awards Program?

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) Matching Awards Program (MAP) provides competitive challenge grants to community-based and national nonprofit organizations to engage in on-the-ground conservation initiatives that benefit National Forests and Grasslands. For specific programmatic focus areas, see below. The Matching Awards Program is unique, in that it effectively doubles the money available to natural resource conservation projects by adding federal funds to private, non-federal matching dollars. Project funding is for one year, with two award decision cycles per year. If awarded, project activities must be complete, with all NFF and matching funds requested and fully expended, by the end of the one-year award period.

Who is eligible for funding?

Applications will be considered from 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including community-based and national organizations, Native American tribes, and universities doing on-the-ground conservation work that benefits National Forests or Grasslands.

Applications will not be considered from:

  • Federal agencies;
  • Regional, state or local governmental entities;
  • For-profit organizations;
  • Consultants;
  • Educational and research organizations proposing projects that do not show tangible, on-the-ground benefit;
  • Organizations seeking general operating support;
  • Organizations seeking funding for litigation or advocacy; and
  • Organizations that cannot produce a 1:1 match of non-federal, project-directed funds.

How do I apply to the National Forest Foundation's Matching Awards Program?

To apply, please visit the MAP Application Process page and review the Request for Proposals (RFP).

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

The NFF supports projects that address community-based forest stewardship, watershed health and restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, and recreation issues in proactive ways by completing innovative, on-the-ground stewardship and citizen-based monitoring projects in partnership with the surrounding community. The NFF Matching Awards Program focuses on "action-oriented" projects that serve to demonstrate and evaluate measurable outcomes.

What types of projects are not eligible for funding?

The NFF does not support general operating, indirect or overhead expenses, land acquisition, funding for multiple years, political advocacy or litigation of any kind, or scholarly research or education that does not include direct, on-the-ground or citizen-based monitoring work.

Is there a typical grant amount?

Past awards range from $500 to over $100,000, with a mean of $30,000 and a median of $25,000. Organizations new to the National Forest Foundation should keep their first proposal to a moderate sum.

How do you prioritize the locations of projects you fund?

No priority is given for project location. Projects nationwide are equally eligible.

What program areas does the NFF focus on and why?

As a national organization, the NFF has the capacity and leverage to disseminate lessons learned at the local level, providing an avenue for organizations to benefit from real-world examples and build stronger technical and institutional capacity. The NFF has selected four widely applicable programmatic themes around which to structure its work: wildlife habitat improvement, recreation, community-based forestry, and watershed health and restoration.
  • Wildlife Habitat Improvement - supporting strategically focused programs that protect or enhance threatened game and nongame species and the lands on which they depend for survival.
  • Recreation - engaging organizations and individuals in on-the-ground conservation projects that enhance the experiences of recreational users.
  • Community-based Forestry - working to build stewardship capacity that will result in sustainable forest management, as well as provide economic development opportunities to local constituencies.
  • Watershed Health and Restoration - developing expansive restoration programs to improve water quality, stream-bank health, fish populations, and to reduce erosion.

If I get a grant, I have to cut you a check in order to release grant funds? Really?

Yes, that is a requirement of the Matching Awards Program. If awarded, your organization needs to send a check payable to the NFF, equal to the amount of grant funds being requested. Documentation must also be provided to show the nonfederal origin of those funds. All the grant funds do not need to be requested at once. They can be requested incrementally over the course of the active award period.

Does my organization need to have 501(c)(3) status to apply for a grant to the NFF?
Typically, Yes. If your organization does not have 501(c)(3) status you will need to utilize an organization with that status as a fiscal sponsor, and they will need to apply on your behalf. The only exceptions to this are for universities or Native American tribes, who are eligible to receive funding under other sections of the IRS code. If you would like to utilize a fiscal sponsor, be sure you understand the NFF’s policy on fiscal sponsorship.

What is a DUNS number, and how to I obtain one?

The DUNS number is now required for all federal grant applicants to track federal funding. Please visit the Whitehouse's instructional page for a description and instructions.

For Award Recipients

Where can I find reporting forms and guidelines?

Visit the page for Current Grantees, where you can find all the forms necessary for completing the required reports, as well as additional resource documents to help in your organizational development.

How do I request my award funds?

Upon notification of award and return of contract documents to release NFF award funds, your organization must submit a cash request form and physical check(s) for the matching funds in an amount up to 100% of your NFF award amount. The NFF will process this request and return the matching funds to you with your NFF award funds. The NFF processes fund requests on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, and additionally as necessary. From the date the NFF processes your request, you can expect to have all funds returned to you in about two weeks.

When can I request my award funds?

NFF award funds can be requested at any point during your award period, all at once or incrementally. Although funds can be requested after you have completed the funded task(s), the grant should not be considered reimbursable; all NFF funds should be requested as early within the award period as possible. All NFF funds must be requested and expended before the close of your award period. If funds are not requested before the award period closes, any remaining award balance becomes unavailable to you.

Our MAP award period is closing shortly and we haven't completed our project and/or requested all the award funds. Can we get an extension?

At the request of an award recipient and under certain circumstances, the NFF may choose to provide a one-time extension of the award period of a MAP project for up to one year. Please contact the NFF well in advance of the close of your award period to discuss your options.

Due to extenuating circumstances, we're going to have to revise a portion of our project. How do we know if NFF funds can be used for the revised project?

NFF funds can only be used as requested in the approved proposal, unless approved otherwise. Please contact the NFF as soon as possible to discuss any program or budget changes you'd like to make. The NFF must approve any changes prior to their implementation.

Still have questions about the Matching Awards Program? Contact Adam Liljeblad.

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