Managing Your Grant
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act
If you are a the Project Officer (coordinator) for a NMBCA grant recipient, please read these instructions carefully
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Division of Bird Habitat Conservation (DBHC) manages the NMBCA grants program and administers all grants. As a grant recipient, you are assigned a specific DBHC Grant Officer to help manage the grant and to monitor progress. Your role as Project Officer is crucial, as the person that the grant officer contacts for all issues.
Please note that our guidelines and policies may change over time, so you should refer regularly to this page and to the Grant Administration Guidelines to see whether there are updates that affect project management.
Your performance as a project manager can affect your organization's ability to obtain future NMBCA grants. The NMBCA program evaluates each grant recipient and documents performance in permanent files. These files are open to auditors during grant audits. We also report on grant performance to the proposal selection team, which considers past performance when evaluating new grant applications for funding.
The Basics of Project Management
The most important administrative measures of success are the degree and timeliness of achievement of each project objective, the achievement and reliability (documentation) of matching contributions, the quality and timeliness of reporting, and the thoroughness of documentation.
- Always remember what your commitment is (proposed objectives) and what your accomplishments (achieved objectives) and deliverables (documents, reports, and products) must be at the end of the grant period.
- Get it in writing. Document all costs and matching contributions (including in-kind such as volunteer hours log). Keep records of prior approvals, justification for changes, communications with FWS, etc.
- Refer to the grant agreement, grant guidelines, and our website regularly, especially before your annual/final report is due and before each major expenditure or match contribution.
- Report on time and with care. At a minimum, each grant recipient is required to submit annual and final reports, including annual and final financial reports (Standard Form 425 (SF-425), see below for more information), that describe in detail the success of meeting objectives as stated in the proposal and explain any differences between the proposed activities and the actual achievements. Grant recipients who choose to receive payment advances must also submit quarterly financial reports (a quarterly SF425, see below for more information). Additional requirements may apply to specific projects. (See Reporting Guidelines)
- Communicate with your grant officer. Email or call if you have a question or have achieved a major milestone or unexpected success related to the project; remember to include your grant agreement number, project number or title in the subject header so that we can find your files. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703/358 1944. Hablamos español. Falamos portugués. On lit de francais.
Keys to Success
Know How to Meet Your Obligations
All key staff that work on your project should read and understand the following guidelines before writing a proposal otherwise you may encounter problems meeting your responsibilities should you receive funding. If you receive grant funding you must read and understand our grant administration guidelines.
- For projects with field activities located exclusively within the United States: U.S. Grant Policies
- For projects with field activities located exclusively outside the United States: LAC Grant Policies
- For projects with field activities located both inside and outside the United States: both U.S. Grant Policies and LAC Grant Policies apply.
Seek Prior Approval
- Most changes to your project require prior approval from a DBHC Grant Officer
- You are bound by the terms of the Grant Agreement.
- You must achieve all objectives stated in your proposal, including those funded by match.
- If you encounter problems or delays, you may request a change to the Agreement and provide your NMBCA Grant Officer with a justification.
- You may only make substantive changes to how you achieve your objectives or to how you allocate grant funds AFTER you have received approval in writing.
You will likely have to return grant funds if you do not seek prior approval for the following:
- Scope of work changes (e.g., not restoring or buying the number of acres you proposed)
- budget changes (e.g., moving grant funds from land purchase to director salary or moving direct costs to indirect ones)
- lack of documentation, especially for land or easement acquisitions and donations.
Remember that two fundamental and important indicators of success of your NMBCA grant are:
- the number of acres restored, purchased in fee simple, or purchased as easements, and
- the dollar amount of matching contribution.
Accomplishing less than 100 percent of the approved acres and match dollars will likely result in a reduction of federal funds.
Matching contributions are integral to your project and you must report on your achievement of all match commitments.
- Grant Officers consider match-funded activities to be an integral part of the project.
- All matching contributions and match funded activities must be clearly explained in your reports, budget table and budget justification.
- In your reports, you must explain how the matching contributions are important to the conservation of neotropical migratory birds.
REMEMBER THE KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Know how to meet your grant obligations
- Always obtain prior approval in writing for any changes to the terms of your grant agreement
- Clearly explain the neotropical migratory bird conservation values of activities funded with match dollars
Special rules for land acquisition (purchase of fee simple or easements) outside the USA:
- If your project will acquire land or easements outside the USA using Federal (U.S.) funds, the title holder or easement holder must be an in-country organization and you must clearly state this in your proposal by identifying the future title holder.
- You will also need to provide proof (e.g., correspondence in the form of an email or letter) that you have communicated your intention to acquire land during this project to the appropriate government agency in the country.
- At the end of the project, you will need to submit copies of legal and other documentation (settlement statements, appraisals, deeds, maps, and GIS shapefiles) showing that all acquisitions were completed within the project period.
- You will need to submit similar documentation for land acquisitions provided as match, even if the match was donated and the acquisition occurred before the beginning of the project period. (See Reporting Guidelines)
Financial Management of Your Grant
Federal funds (i.e., funds from the USA government) requested under the Act must be matched 3:1 by non-Federal funds.
- For every NMBCA grant dollar, a minimum of three non-Federal dollars are required.
- Match contributions must not have been used (or be used) to match another project funded by the U.S. Federal government, under any assistance program.
For project activities in the United States (except Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada, the non-Federal share must be in cash.
- "Cash" means the recipient's cash outlay -- including money contributed by third parties -- to be spent after the date the proposal is submitted.
- Equipment depreciation and volunteer labor are not considered cash.
For project activities outside of the United States and Canada, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the non-Federal share can be cash or in-kind contributions.
- Contributions that have been spent up to two years prior to the date the proposal is submitted may be considered in-kind contributions; contributions made after the proposal is submitted are preferred.
- Contributions made more than two years before proposal submission are not eligible as match. Match contributions must be directly related to the proposed project and the types of activities eligible under the Act. View the Application Instructions for eligible activities.
- General contingency costs,
- Salaries or travel expenses for permanent, full-time U.S. Federal employees
- Any activity that circumvents the laws or regulations of either the USA or the country in which the activity occurs
- Any activities that do not comply with applicable NMBCA Grant Administration Guidelines
- Unused financing, product sales, or other unused funds are not acceptable forms of match.
Rules for receiving an advance of funds:
- You may request advances only if you choose the advance payment option before your grant agreement is completed.
- The request for an advance must be limited to the minimum actual cash amount needed and be timed for immediate disbursement.
- A good guideline is to request funds no more than three days prior to the actual disbursement date, however if you are a foreign grant recipient using an intermediary bank you will want to request your advance with more time to allow for additional processing time. We recommend at least two weeks before you need your funds.
- You must disburse the funds within 7 days (if over $10,000) or within 30 days (if under $10,000).
- Advances must be maintained in interest-bearing accounts. Recipients will incur an interest liability to the Federal government if this regulation is not followed.
After you receive your initial funding and/or advance of funds:
- Award recipients using banks in the United States of America will not be subject to intermediary fees.
- Recipients using an intermediary U.S. bank to transfer funds to a bank in their country may be subject to intermediary bank fees.
- Fees may include flat fees to a percentage of the amount of the transaction. These fees are allowable costs for reimbursement with NMBCA funds, but should be kept to a minimum. Avoid fees and processing delays by using a U.S. bank for all transactions.
- In order to account for bank fees in your proposal budget, contact your local bank and the intermediary bank you plan to use to determine what fees may apply.
If your headquarters are located outside the USA, regardless of where your bank is located, please see Payments to Non-U.S. Recipients.
Always remember what your commitment is (proposed objectives) and what your accomplishments (achieved objectives) and deliverables (documents, reports, products) must be at the end of the grant period.
Refer to the grant agreement and our grant standards regularly, but especially before your annual/final reporting and before each major expenditure or match contribution.