National Wildlife Refuge Friends 2016 Request for Proposals


Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, July 12th 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with its partners, recognizes the important role refuge Friends organizations play in building critical community support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System. As such, we are requesting proposals for projects that assist organizations to be effective co-stewards of our Nation’s important natural resources within the National Wildlife Refuge System. This national program provides competitive grants ($1,500 - $15,000) to creative and innovative proposals that seek to increase the number and effectiveness of organizations interested in assisting the Refuge System nationwide. Funding for the Friends program comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and from Enbridge.


While this grant program focuses on three areas, overarching goals of the program are to help refuge Friends organizations build their expertise to develop and execute projects, expand and increase their capacity and skills, gain and build community recognition and support for the refuge and refuge Friends organizations, build long-term relationships, increase overall capacity, and encourage the sharing of expertise within the Friends networks. Within each area of emphasis, priority will be given to applications that demonstrate their ability to meet some or all of these overarching programmatic goals.

Grants will be provided to support proposals within the following areas:

1. Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants – Funds will be provided to assist both starting and established refuge Friends organizations to build their capacity. Funds for newly forming organizations may include formative and/or initial operational support. For example, funds may be requested for such things as membership drives, tuition for training, brochure and newsletter development, logo design, or consultant fees for website development. Funds for established refuge Friends organizations may include activities that strengthen an organization’s ability to fully achieve its mission and sustain itself over time. For example, funds may be requested for a communications strategy for an existing event, strategic plan, volunteer recruitment planning, membership development, new software, or contributing to the building of a new community partnership.

2. Project Specific Grants – Funds will be provided to refuge Friends organizations seeking support for projects initiated and managed by the Friends. For these grants, Friends must clearly demonstrate their involvement in all elements of the project in their narrative, including how the project will benefit the Friends and foster increased engagement of the public, community, volunteers and/or members. For example, funds may be requested for a Friends organization which proposes to develop and deliver environmental education programs for local schools, manage a habitat restoration project from start to finish, manage the construction of an observation tower and how the Friends intend to use the facility to increase engagement with the Friends organization, or develop interpretive materials and programs that will be used by or delivered by the Friends organization.

*It should be clear that projects are managed and/or implemented by the Friends organization and will provide a benefit to the Friends organization.

*Projects must be new OR be an expansion and/or improvement to an existing project.  Funds cannot be provided for previously existing expenses for an existing project.

**Please contact Traci Giefer to discuss any questions you might have about project ideas or project eligibility.

3. Peer-to-Peer Coaching (P2P) – Funds will be provided to refuge Friends organizations who propose to coordinate and execute a Friends training workshop for a minimum of four other refuge Friends organizations. See specific requirements for this category below.

Peer-to-Peer Coaching Proposal Requirements:

Your USFWS Regional Friends Coordinator must be contacted, identified and involved as an official Service contact with the coaching planning effort. Additionally, all affiliated USFWS staff should be invited to the entire training, but are not required to attend.

Applications must contain a proposed agenda, which includes at least one session either led or co-led with USFWS staff. Agenda topics must include at least three of the following session topics:

  • Board development and management
  • Board/member/volunteer engagement and retention
  • Developing community partnerships
  • Planning: Goal setting, annual work planning, strategic planning
  • Communication and cooperation
  • Overview of the USFWS/NWRS/Refuges
  • Overview of the role and responsibilities within the USFWS-Friends partnerships

Additional agenda topics may be customized to suit Friends organizational development needs and could include but should not be limited to:

  • Working with the media
  • Effective social media marketing
  • Special event planning
  • Nature store basics
  • Grant writing
  • Volunteer management
  • Nonprofit management
  • Diversifying income
  • Incorporation of a joint service work project

What types of things can the grant fund for Friends Peer-to-Peer Coaching?

  • Friends ground travel and lodging expenses
    • A 40% match is required for Friends travel expenses that include ground travel only and lodging. Match can be in-kind
  • Training facility fees (only if appropriate free facilities are not available)
  • Specialized trainer, consultant, or facilitator fees
  • In-training food such as refreshments and meals that are provided by the hosting Friends organization
  • Training supplies such as flip charts, poster boards, copying expenses

Funds for Peer-to-Peer Coaching MAY NOT be used for:

  • Airline travel
  • Any expenses for participating Service employees
  • Agenda proposals that include training in developing, planning, or implementing lobbying programs intended to influence political leaders or legislation


Enbridge recently joined the program as a corporate partner and will be contributing to the 2016 National Wildlife Refuge Friends Program. To be eligible for the Enbridge funding, Friends groups must be affiliated with National Wildlife Refuges within Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin. Priority will be given to proposals that fall under:

  • Non-profit Capacity Building Grants: Funds will be provided to assist with the start up of new refuge Friends organizations with formative and/or initial operational support.
  • Project Specific Grants


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency between the monitoring data provided by multiple grant projects, the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Program has a list of metrics in Easygrants for grantees to choose from for reporting. We ask that you select the 1-3 most relevant metrics from this list for your project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below).  If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Traci Giefer to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Building institutional capacity ​ ​ # of orgs contributing to goals Use this metric to capture the number of Friends Groups or partnering organizations facilitated by the program.
Value of volunteer services Use this metric to indicate the number of Friends-driven volunteer work days.
# volunteers participating Use this metric to indicate the number of Friends Group members and/or volunteers.


Eligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Friends organizations whose primary mission is to support a refuge or a complex of refuges. Applicants must either be tax exempt under section 501(c), OR be in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status and submit with their grant application a copy of the letter from the IRS confirming your application has been filed.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds

  • NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
  • NFWF funds may not be used for printing for for-profit purposes, lobbying  activities, travel (except for Peer-to-Peer proposals), salaries, non-profit filings, food or beverages (except for Peer-to-Peer proposals), refuge-administered projects, shortfalls in government agency budgets.
  • NFWF funds may not be used to pay for volunteer services. NFWF funds can be used to pay for a student intern that is currently enrolled in an educational, career development or job training program through a partnership organization. The partnering organization must cover tort and liability for the intern and the interns work must directly support the capacity building and/or projects of the Friends organization.


Grant awards will range from $1,500 - $15,000. The Enbridge support will be awarded to Friends groups in Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Friends organizations are encouraged (but not required) to contribute 1:1 non-federal matching contributions. All Friends grants must be completed within 2 years of project start date.


All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria.

Required Criteria:

Program Goals and Priorities – If applicable, Project contributes to the Program’s overall habitat and species conservation goals, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposal.

Technical Merit – Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. When appropriate, Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound and feasible.

Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable (OMB Uniform Guidance).


Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.

Partnership – When appropriate, a partnership exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership will sustain it after the life of the grant.

Transferability – Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other Friends organizations.

Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested.

Monitoring – Project includes a plan for monitoring progress during proposed project period to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Program page for the most current dates and information (

​Applicant Webinar ​April 21st, 6:00 PM, EDT
​Full Proposal Due Date ​July 12th, 11:59 PM, EDT
​Review Period ​July 13th –  September 28th
​Awards Announced ​Week of October 10th


All application materials must be submitted online through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system.

  1. Go to to register in our Easygrants online system.  New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information.
  2. Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.
  3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application.  Once as application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.


A PDF version of this RFP can be downloaded here.

A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here.

Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s “Applicant Information” page.

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact:

Traci Giefer, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 612-564-7296,

Joanna Webb, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 703-358-2392,

Joan Patterson, National Wildlife Refuge Association, 202-292-2422,

For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:

Easygrants Helpdesk
Voicemail: 202-595-2497
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, Monday-Friday.
Include: your name, proposal ID #, e-mail address, phone number, program you are applying to, and a description of the issue.


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