is the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and
A: For over 25 years, the BoatU.S. Foundation
for Boating Safety and Clean Water has promoted safe
and environmentally sensitive boating. We work with
boaters, marinas, and boating-related groups to reduce
accidents and fatalities on the water, while increasing
stewardship of our water resources. The BoatU.S. Foundation
is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization with
nine staff members and an overall annual budget of
about $1.4 million.
What is the BoatU.S. Foundation Grant Program?
A: In 1988, the Foundation started a Boating Safety
grant program to support volunteers with community-based
boating safety projects. Our environmental education
support began in 1999.
grant-making activity is an extension of our mission.
Each year, we allocate about 8% of our budget ($100,000)
to helping local groups who further our goals and
help local communities.
Our grant program is funded primarily by small, voluntary
donations made by members of BoatU.S., the Boat Owners
Association of the United States.
What kind of groups is the Foundation looking to fund?
A: We want to work with small, local, volunteer-based
nonprofits. We will fund volunteer boating groups,
clubs, and associations, as well as local nonprofit
organizations, including local chapters of national
What kind of groups doesn’t the Foundation fund?
A: We will not give grants to government agencies,
national or international organizations, for-profit
businesses or individuals, or private clubs not open
to the general public. We have received requests in
the past from nonprofits that have multi-million dollar
budgets and dozens of staff members. While these nonprofits
are clearly successful, our focus is more towards
the small groups who couldn’t do this outreach
without our grant.
What kind of projects does the Foundation fund?
A: The Foundation is looking for new and innovative
ideas to reach local recreational boaters with safety
messages. Key components of the project must be designing
the information for the boater, and getting it to
the boater; they shouldn’t be an afterthought.
In addition, the project should be designed to get
wide exposure in the local community, and should be
able to be duplicated by others. Also, projects that
will give us feedback about boater behavior are encouraged.
What kind of projects does the Foundation prefer to
A: The Foundation prefers to fund projects that
use positive messages. We would like to work with
groups that use positive “do” messages
rather than negative “don’t” messages.
We also find that projects that focus on a particular
issue are more effective than broad projects.
What is a focus topic?
A: A focus topic is an issue we believe needs
more public awareness. Through our Grant Programs,
we will be able to reach more people at the local
level educating them about an issue that affects all
recreational boating. The Foundation may elect not
to promote a focus topic for a given year. If there
is a focus topic, it will be listed on the application.
What happens if I propose a project on a topic other
than the focus topic?
A: All applications that educate boaters about
boating safety will be considered. Applications with
a majority of the project devoted to the focus topic
will be given preferential treatment.
Is there a place where I can get ideas for possible
A: Yes. A list of funded projects from past years
can be seen by visiting the Boating Safety Grants
page of the BoatU.S. Foundation web site (http://www.boatus.com/foundation/grants).
Please use this list as a starting point, but remember
that we are looking for innovation, not duplication
of a past project in a new location.
Are there limits on funds?
A: Applicants may request up to $4000. In general,
the Foundation tries to help as many applicants as
possible--so, as an example, the preference would
be to fund four $1000 applications rather than one
$4000 application. Applicants who are realistic in
their funding requests stand a much better chance
of receiving funds!
If I apply, do I automatically receive a grant?
A: No. Each year about 100 organizations apply
for this limited funding. As a result, it is a highly
competitive grant application process.
If my grant proposal is accepted, will I receive all
the funds I asked for?
A: Not necessarily. Although you are free to request
the maximum available under the grants, in order to
increase the number of grants funded each year, the
Grant Committee may choose to fund parts of your grant,
or specific items listed in your budget.
Are there any expenses that are NOT allowable under
the grant guidelines?
A: Yes. Please review the list in the grant guidelines
What’s the timetable?
A: The deadline for Boating Safety Grant applications is usually three months following the initial announcement. Applications must
be sent by email or postmarked by midnight on the due date. Applications will be reviewed, and final decisions
will be announced 2 to 3 months later. If your group receives
a grant, you will be expected to complete all grant-related work within 12 months of the award.
Does “postmarked” mean the Foundation
has to receive the application by the due date?
A: No, it means you must have mailed it on or
before the due date and the postmark will reflect
Does the Grant Administrator decide whether or not
I get funding?
A: No. The Grant Administrator oversees the grants
themselves, but does not decide who is accepted. The
Grant Administrator is there to answer questions from
applicants and will handle your application when you
apply. The Grant Administrator is also the person
you will work with if you do receive funding for a
Who decides what groups will get funded then?
A: Grant applications are carefully reviewed by
a committee of about 12 people, made up of senior/executive
members of the BoatU.S. Foundation and BoatU.S.
What kind of paperwork and accounting is required
A: You must properly fill out our application
in order to apply for a grant. Once you have submitted
the application, within several days we will confirm
with you by e-mail or a phone call that your application
has been accepted.
We’ve submitted a grant application, what happens
A: About 10 weeks after the grant deadline, you
will receive notification of whether or not your group
was accepted for funding. In an effort to make the
grant process as paperless as possible, you may receive
notification by e-mail. All groups will be notified.
We were accepted! Now what?
A: Congratulations! If your grant application
is successful, you will be sent a contract, which
you must sign and return. Over the year, the following
will be expected from you:
• You will need to provide us proofs of your
project for approval before you have anything printed.
• You will stay in close communication with
the Grant Administrator.
• You must provide a short six month written
report including fund allocations.
• At the end of the year, you will provide a
final 12 month written report, copies of your products
(if applicable), and an expense sheet detailing your
purchases. Remember to save all receipts. Any surplus
funds must be returned to the Foundation unless you
receive prior approval to spend the funds on something
other than what was listed in your budget.
We were not accepted. What did we do wrong?
A: Because the grants are competitive, only a
portion of those who apply will receive funding. If
you would like guidance on why your proposal was not
funded, you may contact the Grant Administrator.
Are matching funds required?
A: No, matching funds are not required. The Foundation
requires that its grant represent at least 50% of
a project’s budget. Proposals that include in-kind
donations of product and/or time are encouraged. You
must include a detailed budget at the time you submit
your proposal for it to be considered for funding.
What are matching funds and in-kind donations?
A: Matching funds is the money your organization
is putting into a project. An in kind donation is
the goods or services that your organization will
add to the grant, like graphic design skills, products,
or staff time spent distributing brochures, etc.
What is a “proof” and why does the Foundation
want to see it?
A: A proof is a draft of your project before it
is printed. With your application, we’d like
to see a proof that is as close to the final design
of your project as possible so we can visualize your
project, and so we know you have thought out your
message. Once you receive a grant, we must then approve
a final proof that reflects the BoatU.S. Foundation
logo before you may print. We have a lot of experience
educating boaters, so we want to help make sure the
information you are conveying is accurate and complete,
and reflects current best practices.
The application says I should get permissions from
“controlling authorities?” What does that
A: If your project will require the cooperation
or permission of others, we would like you to obtain
that before you apply. For instance, if you want to
hang signs at a marina or a park, get the permission
of the property owner or manager, or the agency that
oversees the park. You may also need permission to
hold public events, distribute brochures in a state
or national park, post signs at public launch ramps,
Still have questions?
A: We suggest that you print out a copy of the
application and read it thoroughly before beginning.
If something is unclear, please contact the grant
you have questions about the Boating Safety Grants,