General FAQs

What is NEGEF?

NEGEF is the acronym for the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, a foundation that focuses on providing support to community volunteer initiatives working to make their hometowns healthy, just, safe and environmentally sustainable.

How is NEGEF different from private foundations and community foundations?

NEGEF is a 501c3 public charity and, like community foundations, we are a public foundation. What makes NEGEF different is that we directly fund groups, both unincorporated and small non-profits, that are generally too small or new to meet the guidelines of private and community foundations. Through our due diligence process, we are able to act as the fiscal sponsor for ad hoc volunteer efforts across the region. Where other foundations technically have the ability to do the same, they often opt not to fund unincorporated groups as they lack the time and capacity to do the due dilingence. By partnering with NEGEF, community and private foundations are able to extend their philanthropic reach.

What does “grassroots” mean for NEGEF?

NEGEF has two definitions of grassroots: 1) the grassroots are the everyday people, neighbors, who are engaged in local level issues, for whom community-based work is a passion and whose volunteer time is a priceless contribution to the common good.; 2) for our grant program, we define grassroots as groups that have annual operating budgets of less than $100,000 with no more than two full time staff. Two-thirds of grantee groups are all-volunteer.

Does a group have to have 501(c)3 (non-profit public charity) or Incorporated tax status to receive NEGEF funding?

No, the Grassroots Fund does not require that a group has a formal tax exempt status. 
NEGEF funds both informal (unincorporated) groups - we call them “ad hoc” - and formal (incorporated or 501c3 status) groups. The only requirement is that a group must have a checking account in the group’s name or have a fiscal agent. This is to ensure that the grant isn't considered personal income for the recipient.
A group is allowed to submit an application before having a checking account or a fiscal agent in place.

How can a volunteer group open a bank account?

In order to open a bank account to deposit funds, the bank may request an Employee Identification Number (EIN) be assigned for identification purposes.  A Community Volunteer Group can request an EIN number online by following these steps:

  • Go to this IRS Website
  • Click on Apply Online Now (near the bottom of the page)
  • Click on Begin Application (near the bottom of the page)
  • Click on the Begin Application button
  • When you get to the list of the type of group, check the View Additional Types box at the bottom of the list, then hit Continue
  • Choose Community or Volunteer Group, then Continue
  • Click on the Continue button
  • Fill out all of the applicable information for the group

Why does NEGEF focus on the three actions of Connecting (Peers), Skills-Building (Tools) and Grantmaking (Dollars)??

NEGEF believes the combination of these three actions is critical for energizing and sustaining grassroots efforts over the long-term. Grantmaking boosts groups’ morale, validates their work, and provides some much needed funds to implement local projects; Connecting, peer-to-peer support, sustains efforts by creating a community of practice and helps break down “issue silos”; and Skills-Building strengthens the organizing skills of grassroots groups and leaders so they can be effective local change agents.

Where does NEGEF get its funds?

NEGEF receives annual gifts from private foundations, public foundations, community foundations, and individuals. Every year we have to fundraise our full budget, which includes the funds we distribute through the grant programs, overhead and administration of our offices and staff, and our annual RootSkills networking and training event. We are not an endowed fund.

Does NEGEF accept individual donations?

Yes! Every donation is welcome, no donation is too small, and they all support grassroots efforts. Learn more by visiting our Donate page.

How many times can a group receive NEGEF funding?

That depends. There is no set limit. However, NEGEF rarely provides grants to one group more than four times (and in the case of Seed grants it tends to be 2 times). Factors that go into this decision include: whether or not the group is changing and growing, or if it is applying for the same project; whether or not NEGEF is the only source of funding or if NEGEF is one of a (growing) number of sources; and the specific use/need for funding. If you are unsure whether or not your group should apply again, please don't hesitate to .

Can municipalities apply for funding?

Municipally-tied volunteer committees such as an energy task force or committee or conservation commission may apply for funding with the municipality serving as fiscal agent, provided the core organizing team includes community members/volunteers (i.e. not solely paid municipal staff).