Types of Funding

NEH supports projects with outright funds, matching funds, or a combination of the two.

  • Outright Funds

    Outright funds are awarded by NEH and are not contingent on additional fund-raising.

  • Federal Matching Funds

    Federal matching funds require an NEH grant or cooperative agreement recipient to secure gift funds from third parties before federal funds are awarded. Except for Challenge Grants, NEH matching awards are made on a one-to-one basis.

    Because matching awards enable NEH to provide support to a greater number of projects, applicants are encouraged to request complete or partial support in the form of matching awards. Whenever possible, applicants requesting federal matching funds should identify potential sources of gift funds at the time they submit an application to NEH.  The full amount of federal matching funds may not be available for release in the first year of a multi-year period of performance.  Federal matching funds are typically distributed on an annual basis over the life of the award. 

    Further information on the eligibility of gifts for matching purposes can be found in NEH's Federal Matching Funds Guidelines.

  • Combined Funds

    Applicants may request a combination of outright and federal matching funds. For example, if an applicant is requesting $40,000 in NEH funds, and the applicant includes in its cost sharing $5,000 from an eligible third-party donor, the applicant should request $5,000 in federal matching funds. The balance of the NEH request ($35,000) may be made in outright funds.

    NEH may offer funding at a different level than that requested. In some instances, NEH may offer federal matching funds only, or it may offer a combination of federal matching and outright funds in response to a request for outright funds.

Cost Sharing

NEH normally can contribute only part of the funds needed to carry out projects. Cost sharing consists of the cash contributions made to the project by the applicant and third parties, as well as third party in-kind contributions, such as donated services and goods. Cost sharing includes gift money that will be raised to release federal matching funds. Please see program guidelines for specific cost sharing expectations.