Grant Matching Guidelines

Matching Contributions, Volunteer Time, & Donated Time/Materials

Always confer with the granting agency or organization concerning what is acceptable as a matching contribution and valuing volunteer time, donated equipment and materials. Below are some general guidelines from various granting programs.


What are some general guidelines for calculating non-Federal matches?

By definition, all contributions are cash because they represent direct costs to the applicant. "In kind" contributions are non-cash contributions from third parties (i.e., anyone other than the grant applicant). Non-Federal contributions towards a match, including cash and third party in-kind, are generally acceptable when such contributions for matches meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are verifiable from the applicant's records (i.e. a log of volunteer hours, copies of donation receipts, etc.)
  • Are not included as non-Federal matching contributions for any other Federally-assisted project or program (including other Prescott awards).
  • Are necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project objectives.
  • Are allowable under the Federal grants administrative requirements and Federal cost principles. For further explanation of the Federal grants requirements and cost principles, please refer to the OMB Grants Management Circulars website.
  • Are not paid by the Federal government under another award, except where authorized
  • Values for applicant contributions of services and property are established in accordance with the applicable cost principles.


Example from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

What Are Matching Grants?
The Foundation is mandated by Congress to ensure that each federal dollar awarded is leveraged with a non-federal dollar or equivalent goods and services. The Foundation refers to these funds as "matching funds." As a policy, the Foundation seeks to achieve at least a 2:1 return on its project portfolio -- $2 raised in matching funds to every federal dollar awarded. To be eligible, matching funds must be:

  • Non-federal in origin (federally appropriated or managed funds are ineligible; e.g., Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act);
  • Raised and dedicated specifically for the project;
  • Spent between the project start and end dates designated in the grant application;
  • Voluntary in nature (mitigation, restitution, or other permit or court-ordered settlements are ineligible); and
  • Applied only to the Foundation grant and not to any other federal matching programs.


What is eligible as Matching Funds for NFWF?
Matching Funds must be non-federal in origin; raised and dedicated specifically for the project; and voluntary in nature. It is a good idea to discuss potential sources of Matching Funds with your project officer prior to submitting a proposal to determine eligibility. You do not need to have your Matching Funds secured prior to receiving a Foundation grant, but you should have some ideas of possible sources.


In general how are volunteer hours valued as matching for grants?

Volunteer services furnished by professional and technical personnel, consultants, and other skilled and unskilled labor may be counted as non-Federal matching if the service is an integral and necessary part of an approved project.

Rates for volunteer services shall be consistent with those paid for similar work in the recipient's organization (documentation of consistent salaries is helpful and may be necessary). Premium rates will not be used.

If the applicant does not have employees performing similar work, the rate should be consistent with those ordinarily performing the work in the same labor market. To determine the value of volunteer labor, the labor rate should be multiplied by the total number of volunteer labor hours. Credit may be for volunteer labor in any field reasonably required for the project. Paid fringe benefits that are reasonable may also be included in the valuation. Volunteer services have to be documented and supported.

When an employer (other than the grant recipient) furnishes the services of an employee, these services shall be valued at the employee's regular rate of pay (plus an amount of fringe benefits that are reasonable, but exclusive of overhead costs), provided these services are in the same skill for which the employee is normally paid.


In general how may donated equipment be valued?

To determine the value of donated equipment, determine the number of hours that each piece of donated equipment will be used and multiply it by the applicable applicant's or commercial equipment rate, whichever is lower. The out-of-pocket cost to operate the equipment may be claimed as a donation for credit unless it is included in a reimbursed equipment rate. Equipment may also be donated as non-Federal matching and may not exceed its fair market value. In addition, loaned equipment may not exceed its fair rental value at time of donation.


In general how may donated materials be valued?

Only materials donated by third party entities are eligible for credit. To determine the value of donated materials, use the current commercial rate for such material based on previous purchases or information available from vendors. Materials donated from other Federal agencies may not be included. Supplies may be donated as non-Federal matching and can include such items as expendable equipment, office supplies, laboratory supplies or workshop and classroom supplies. The value assessed has to be reasonable and may not exceed fair market value at the time of the donation.
If space is donated as part of the non-Federal match, the cost cannot exceed the fair rental value of comparable space as established by an independent appraisal of comparable space and facilities.