Matching funds are the portion of a project or program costs that are not borne by the funding source. Most government grants require matching financial participation by the applicant. In some cases, the granting agency specifies a minimum match (e.g. 25% or 50% of the total project cost). In other instances, the funding source encourages but does not dictate the percent of match.
Applying for grants is a competitive process so the match needs to compare favorably with match dollars offered by other proposers. Proposals that include a significant match are perceived by the reviewers and the funding source as more competitive and are therefore more likely to be funded.
Showing an appropriate match:
- Demonstrates institutional commitment that goes beyond just conducting a program. The funding source wants to see an indication of institutional support for the program and some likelihood that we have the resources with which to continue the program after the external funding ceases.
- Provides a more accurate picture of the actual cost of delivering a service. The funding source needs to know the total cost of replicating the program elsewhere.
- Reduces the amount of money required of the funding source, thereby allowing additional projects to be funded in other locations.
Frequently, the grant application will indicate the types of match that are acceptable for a particular program. Generally speaking, match is allowable for the same cost categories that are allowable from grant funds. To qualify, the match dollars must be used to meet the objectives of the proposed project and may come from either the college or a third party, but not from other grants.
There are two types of match:
- Cash Contributions: cash outlay from the College's operational accounts or a non-Federal third party to support the program. Examples of a cash contribution include a portion of the Project Director's salary that is being paid by the institution or a cash contribution to match federal dollars for the purchase of instructional equipment.
- In-kind Contributions: value of non-cash contributions provided by the College or a non-Federal third party. They may be in the form of charges for real property and non-expendable personal property, and the value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable with the project or program. Examples include the value of space, equipment, volunteers, and supplies for the program; supervision; and in some cases, any unreimbursed portion of the negotiated indirect cost rate.
For example, the National Science Foundation awards funding to purchase laboratory equipment for projects that enhance the teaching of science. This program requires a minimum 50% match. NSF will pay for at least half of the equipment cost and the college must demonstrate in its proposal that it will pay for the other half.
During the proposal preparation process, grant writers review the matching requirements contained in the grant application. In addition, grant writers generally discuss matches with Program Officers to find out the match amounts offered by proposals that were funded the prior year. This information helps arrive at a match amount that will be competitive without being excessive.
A few examples of matching costs which people tend to forget about:
- When consultants charge a lower rate since you are a educational institution, you can use the difference from the normal rate to the educational discount rate as in-kind dollars. The documentation which needs to be provided is a letter from the consultant including the normal rate charged and the educational discount rate.
- If an advisory committee participates, charge this time as if their company was billing them for time. Keep detailed meeting minutes showing who attended, the times they were there, and travel time for each attendee.
- In-kind match can also come from technical assistance, mentoring, job fairs, tutoring, field trips and presentations. Keep a log which states the name, phone number, position, and hours spent traveling and at the actual visit/meeting.
- Educational discounts on software, equipment and supplies. This can be used on most grants not all though. (Cash Contribution)