The Big Buy In

This is the fourth in a series discussing grant funding, including some general editorial comments on the processes, and uses.

–AKA – What is this going to cost you?

This is a question that has some options that directly affect the answer.

Depending on what your group applied for if they are adding funding to the project, the application, or donating time, each option will change the out-of-pocket cost, and can even drive it down to zero dollars from your group’s treasury if well planned. 

Typically, grants will have a matching funding requirement that must be met when applying for a grant.

The Nevada OHV Grant (NV-OHVG)has no matching requirement at this time. As the grant program gets more popular, and more user groups step up to seek funding that may change. 

We at NVORA like to think of matching as a good measurement to see if the applicant has any skin in the game. And in many cases, the group that has the highest percentage of matching funds should fare better in a grant round. But again, NV-OHVG does not require any matching, we are discussing this from the “best practices” point of view. 

Why does matching matter?  

To level the playing field. Matching funds are measured in a percentage of the project cost. Not in the cash value. 

Quick example.

Dunes and Trails ATV club wants to have a staging area re-graveled, and the entire project costs $30,000. D&T spends  $15,000 of cash, labor, or donations they would have a 50% match. At the same time USFS may put in an application for a larger project at $95,000 and their matching funds at 17,500 is an 18% match.

This does not degrade the value of the projects, but it shows the reader that the Dunes and Trails club has more buy-in…  more skin in the game. 

As we often like to say, “No one has ever washed a rental car”. 

Should a group have zero % matching, even on a great project, most would look to that application as either a cash grab (blog on partnerships), poorly promoted to their members or simply inexperience. But it all breaks down into if the applicant has nothing to lose by walking away, it makes it easier to leave a project unfinished and .. walk away. 

The most common sources for matching funds are. 

Group Treasury – self-explanatory the group simply plays for some of the project items.

Donated time & materials,  – forecasting the number of hours that your team will put in, and if they are providing equipment, can all be added to the matching side. 10 people for 10 hours, equals about $2700.00 of matching in-kind funds.

Grants from the private sector – Groups like Polaris, Tread Lightly, Yamaha Fox shocks all have grant programs. Any funding acquired by the group can also be applied as matching. 

Government Grants – this is a large swath of grant funding that can be available from Economic Stimulus, Recreation Trails program, or even County tourism funding. All of these are sources that can be added to the matching.

“In-Kind” is also a concept new to many. This simply means if you donate your time or expense to the group, they can simply add it to the matching side. An example of in-kind would be, a member of your group driving to Carson City to attend a meeting about your grant project. If an individual does not want to be reimbursed for travel expenses, that trip can be added to “In-kind” matching. 

A couple of things that are often confused as In-Kind but are not included, deferred compensation to contractors or employees, reduced wages to an employee below the volunteer rate, or forecasting the purchase of an item from a higher-priced vendor but buying it from a different lower price vendor, that price difference is not in kind nor match.  (There is also a discussion surrounding the idea that reduced wages should even be counted as matching, but that is a far more theoretical and ethical debate to have another time) 

Where we strongly feel there is a difference is when a project has matching funds from a different government source. Be it local, state, or federal sources. 

We feel strongly that the match needs to be identified as from a Taxpayer-funded source like RTP funding or the Great American Outdoors Act this is because, for a true level playing field, a small group that has worked hard to have a match at 30%, from the club or other donations, in our opinion have a stronger sense of ‘buy in’ than a government office or agency that simply used their staff budget to support the matching, or has a grant that they applied for that the general public does not have the resources to do the same.

This may seem like a nitpicky focus for us at NVORA, but as we noted in our blog about the blog Free Money there have been some significant missed opportunities for better use of your money. Plus the one comment we get the time and time again is “why should we pay one more penny to” (insert govt agency). Thankfully the poor practices appear to be behind us but this is always on our radar at NVORA.  

From a values point of view, we at NVORA feel a grant that has 100% dollar-to-dollar matching funds from another taxpayer-funded source should be viewed at the exact same level as an application from a group with zero matching. 

As the money all came from us, the American taxpayer – the applicant has no real ‘skin in the game’

Next up  – Should you fund the government and studies.

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