NEEF Glossary of Terms/FAQ

I. General FAQ's

II. Public Lands

III. Friends Group

IV. Capacity Building



I. General FAQ's

  • My organization has been in existence for several years, but our formal 501(c)(3) status was not granted by the IRS until this past year. Does our tax status factor into the eligibility requirement that states the applicant must have been in existence for at least two years? The time period of two years can be measured from the date the group formed as an organization. We understand that some smaller Friends Groups may have worked through a fiscal agent in the past, or had delays in gaining 501(c)(3) status. Hence, your tax status will not be a consideration in the two-year requirement. As long as your organization has been working to serve a public land for at least two years, regardless of tax status at the time of conception, you are eligible to apply.
  • My organization currently operates under a fiscal agent. Are we eligible to apply for a grant? If so, which financial documents should we provide? Yes, organizations operating under a fiscal agent are eligible to apply for NEEF grants. When completing their application, these organizations should clearly state the name of their fiscal agent and submit the requested financial documents for the fiscal agent.
  • My organization partners with multiple agencies to maintain our public land site(s). Some of these agencies are private entities. Is this acceptable? Which agency should we list on the application (and subsequently obtain a partnership letter from)? It is very common for a public land to be managed by multiple agencies. It is acceptable for your partner land site to be managed by both public and private partners, as long as it is still open to the public and qualifies as a public land based on NEEF's definition. When prompted by the application, please include a partnership letter from the agency that you feel best represents your work and mission, and the one that you work with most frequently. For example, for the Every Day Event Grant, you would include a partnership letter from the managing agency of the land site at which you will be holding your event(s).
  • How do I submit an application for a NEEF grant? All applications must be submitted via our online grants system.


  • When creating an account in the online grants system, whose information should I provide in the 'User Information' section? Whose information should I provide in the 'Organization Information' section? Contact information supplied in the 'User Information' section should reflect the individual who will be directly handling the application process for your organization. If there is a problem with your application, or if we need to contact your organization for any questions, this is the person we will contact. In the 'Organization Information' section, we recommend that you include the contact information of the person in charge of your organization. this would not be the person directly involved with the day-to-day handling of the application, but the person who is authorized to sign off on items such as Grant Agreements and the like.


  • What financial documents will I be asked to submit with my grant application? All applicants are required to submit the following financial documents to complete their application:

- 501 (c)(3) letter issued by the IRS;

- A List of the Board of Directors;

- Annual organization budget for current Fiscal Year;

- An Audit for previously completed Fiscal Year OR a Balance Sheet & Profit and Loss Statement for previously completed Fiscal Year. *NEEF may also request said financials for fiscal year-to-date.


  • I am having trouble using the grant application software (e.g. page will not load, application will not accept my uploaded documents, etc.) Or, I do not understand a question on the application. Who should I contact?  For all questions regarding the online application system or the requirements of the application itself, please contact


  • I already submitted a complete application, but would like to revise some of my answers. Is there any way I can access my submitted application? As long as it is prior to the application deadline, we can make your application available for edits. To request an already submitted application, please email, and be sure to include the name of your organization.


  • When applying for a grant, in the application it asks if my organization has a DUNS#. What is a DUNS# and why is it required for our organization to apply for a grant? A DUNS number is different from your federal tax ID (EIN) number. A DUNS number is used for business credit reporting purposes, A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of your business. When registering for your DUNS number, you'll need to have the following on hand: Legal name. Headquarters name and address for your business. DUNS number is used to create your business credit file, similar to how your social security number is used to identify your personal credit reports. Please visit this website to search for or register your organization with a DUNS#, , DUNS# assignment is FREE for all businesses required to register with the US Federal government for contracts or grants. We at the National Environmental Education Foundation require a DUNS# for all organizations applying for federally funded grants (non-profits, military installations, etc.).


  • Will a previous grant be continued or refunded in the future?  We at the National Environemental Education Foundation cannot disclose information about a grant that is not active or currently posted on our website.  


II. Public Lands

Any federal, state, local, county or regional land or waterway held in the public trust and/or spaces that are accessible to the public. Examples of public lands can include (but are not limited to) national forests, national parks and monuments, national wildlife refuges, and state/local lands that are accessible to the public, such as state parks and forests, community gardens, and urban green spaces. If you have questions about whether your site qualifies as a public land, please email us at

Public Land Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Are land trusts considered public lands? NEEF's public land work is focused on lands that are owned by the public, not just open for public use. The property managed by the land trust should be managed in partnership with a public land management agency, and the land trust should be able to provide a partnership letter from said agency. This agency does not need to be state or federal, it can be a local or regional entity.  The mission of the land trust is also an important factor to consider. In order to be eligible for NEEF's grants, a land trust’s mission needs to have a focus on achieving responsible, natural use of the land. If the organization’s central mission is focused on activities aside from conservation (like developing affordable housing, civic buildings, commercial spaces, etc... on this land), then the organization is likely not eligible for funding.

  • Are school properties considered public lands? Although school property can be government-owned, it is not focused on the public's use and enjoyment of the land and nature. For these reasons, schools are not considered public lands.

*If you are still unclear about whether a site qualifies as a public land, you may email us at


III. Friends Group

A nonprofit organization whose mission is focused on serving a public land or waterway site in the United States and the improvement and responsible use of that site. This includes Friends Groups that serve more than one site, such as a regional group of parks. Whether they call themselves a Cooperating Association, a Friends Group, or simply a partner, they work in cooperation with land managers to meet the needs of the land and the local community.

While there are many nonprofit organizations that partner with public lands to bring people outdoors to recreate, learn, and explore, not all of said organizations are considered Friends Groups. NEEF defines a Friends Group as one whose mission is focused on achieving conservation purposes on a specific public land/waterway. Activities typical of a Friends Group may include (but are not limited to):

  • protecting the natural habitat, water quality, and other cultural/historical aspects of a site;
  • ensuring that the site is accessible for outdoor recreational use by the public, especially its surrounding community;
  • hosting public events and programming that engages the community (this can include recreational activities like walking tours or festivals; educational activities like BioBlitzes or bird watching; or volunteer activities like trail maintenance or trash clean-ups).

The organization’s mission should be specific to the land/waterway and its community. If the organization’s mission is more generally focused on outdoor recreation or education on any land and not specific to that public land or group of lands, then they would likely not qualify as a Friends Group.

Friends Group Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Friends Groups are governed very differently than something like a Cooperating Association. Do Cooperating Associations, and similar groups, qualify as Friends Groups? Yes. Cooperating Associations, or any other 501(c)(3) nonprofits, whose mission is focused on serving a public land site in the United States, are considered Friends Groups. What this means is that the purpose of the organization is to serve a specific public land or group of public lands and that this public land recognizes you as such an organization.

  • My organization supports public water trails, rather than a land-based public area. Are we considered a Friends Group? Water-focused Friends Groups are considered Friends Groups. The term "public lands" encompasses waterways. Assuming these waterways are open to the public, and the organization meets all other requirements of that of a Friends Group, water-focused groups are eligible. When completing the application, you will likely be asked for the total acreage of public lands that your organization helps to maintain. Please provide the acreage of your partner waterway. 

  • I work for a City Department of Parks and Recreation. We work to support all local city-owned lands. As a government entity, are we considered a Friends Group? Unfortunately, government entities are not considered Friends Groups because they are not 501(c)(3) organizations. However, if the department works with a nonprofit group that helps promote and maintain the land, that group may be eligible.

  • My organization hosted a National Public Lands Day Event, are we considered a Friends Group? While many organizations do host NPLD events, doing so does not necessarily qualify your organization as a Friends Group. In order to be considered a Friends Group, your organization must be a nonprofit whose mission is focused on serving a public land site in the US and the improvement and responsible use of that site.

*If you are still unclear about whether your organization qualifies as a Friends Group, you may email us at


IV. Capacity Building

NEEF will no longer be offering Capacity Building grants.