Watershed Fund Capacity Support


The Watershed Fund has funding to assist MWCC Partners with building capacity in organizational development and sustainability, coordination, planning, communications, and outreach.

MWCC defines capacity as the tools, knowledge, and resources our Partners need to effectively and sustainably carry out their core missions over the long term. Capacity needs are different for each organization. They may include effective leadership, engaged and well-trained staff, relevant skills and knowledge to carry out project work, strategic relationships, secure funding sources, and more.

2020 Capacity Funding

The 2020 Capacity Funding cycle is complete. A total of $28,000 in Capacity funding was available for 2020. The following organizations received funding in 2020:

Organization Proposal Title
Beaverhead Watershed Committee Building Organizational Structural Integrity (BOSI)
Lolo Watershed Group Establishing Lolo Watershed Group as the Local Leader in Protecting and Restoring Lolo Creek and its Watershed
Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group Private Landowner Engagement & Project Development
Lake Helena Watershed Group Building foundation for the Lake Helena Watershed Group
Sun River Watershed Building Capacity for Organizational Resilience
Musselshell Watershed Coalition Musselshell Watershed Coalition Strategic Plan
Bitter Root Water Forum Connecting with Streamside Landowners
Watershed Education Network Community Engagement in the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed

Information about our 2021 Capacity Funding grant cycle will be available on this page in June 2021. See “Capacity Support Timeline” at the bottom of this page for more information.


The purpose of these dollars is to fill critical capacity funding gaps of our Partners. Activities funded will allow watershed organizations to measurably improve their internal operations and external community-based conservation efforts, through targeted efforts in organizational development and sustainability, coordination, planning, communications, and outreach. Projects must be directly related to community-led solutions and engagement using the Watershed Approach to conservation.

Who Qualifies for Support?

MWCC Partners who are increasing the capacity of local communities to advance locally led conservation using the Watershed Approach to conservation are eligible. Federal agencies, state agencies, individuals, and for-profit entities are not eligible, regardless of their Partnership status. For more information about MWCC’s Partnership program, click here.

What is Required of Partners Who Receive Funding?

Partners who receive funding will be expected to report to MWCC on both qualitative and quantitative outcomes, impacts, and deliverables, and to provide other information as needed. Projects must be completed by April 30, 2021, and a final report will be due by May 14, 2021. No interim report is required.

Project proposals must be submitted via an online proposal form provided by MWCC for each funding cycle. More details on the 2020 proposal form – including a link to the online form and a Word version – are under “How to Apply for 2020 Funding” below.

Be aware that the online proposal form requires you to upload your current fiscal year budget, whether that is for the 2020 calendar year or for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020.

Examples of Eligible Projects:

The following are merely examples. MWCC encourages and supports innovative capacity-building ideas that will bring our Watershed Partners to the next level in terms of organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts. Please contact Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols to discuss your proposal ideas.

  • Community- and landowner-engagement efforts, including project tours, community meetings, and other initiatives
  • Evaluation of organizational goals and budgetary needs, including determining true program costs and billing rates
  • Monitoring and evaluating organizational effectiveness
  • Establishing and implementing a communications plan for your organization
  • Creation or redesign of your organization’s website
  • Laying the groundwork for hiring additional staff
  • Conducting a community-led watershed needs prioritization effort in conjunction with key state and federal partners.
  • Creating and implementing a community engagement plan
  • Establishing partnerships with other local organizations to achieve larger conservation goals
  • Outreach activities to private landowners
  • Establishment of or measurable progress toward community-led:
    • Watershed Restoration Plans
    • Drought management plans
    • Weed management plans
    • Climate resiliency plans
    • Education or outreach initiatives
    • Other conservation planning initiatives
  • Establishing a monitoring program

Examples of Ineligible Projects

  • Implementation of on-the-ground restoration or other projects
  • Implementation of conservation practices
  • Political lobbying or litigation
  • Purchase of equipment that is not directly related to a capacity-building project or that exceeds 20% of the project budget.

Review Criteria

Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate a meaningful step in improving organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts. What constitutes a “meaningful step” will be different for each organization and will vary by organizational life stages. For a small or newer organization, developing a budget or strategic plan may be meaningful step. For larger or more established organizations, creating a basin-wide resource management plan or leading a regional conservation effort may be more appropriate.

Review criteria will include:

  • Project goals reflect a meaningful step in improving organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts.
  • Application clearly demonstrates why the project is necessary for sustaining or improving the health of the local watershed.
  • Project implements the following principles of the Watershed Approach:
    1. Is community-based and community-driven
    2. Ensures broad stakeholder involvement and inclusivity
    3. Relies on local leadership
    4. Encourages collaboration with partners in the watershed
  • Project relates to an existing conservation or watershed plan, such as Watershed Restoration Plans, NRCS Long Range Plans or Technical Implementation Plans, regional Water Plans, local water quality plans, or other community-based conservation plans.
  • Project demonstrates clear positive impacts within the organization and/or community, both in the near and longer terms.
  • Project timeline is realistic and can be completed by the end of April 2021.
  • Project budget is clear and understandable in the context of the proposed project.
  • There is a clear need for funding from the Watershed Fund.

Timeline for 2020 Funding

  • Friday, July 24, 2020 at 5 pm –  Deadline to apply for 2020 Capacity Support funding, using the online form linked below.
  • End of August – Watershed Fund reviewers will make funding recommendations for MWCC Board approval.
  • September 2020 – Funding will be distributed, pending completion of contracts by MWCC and the funded organization.
  • April 30, 2021 – Projects must be completed.
  • May 14, 2021 – Final Project Report due to MWCC. No interim report is required.

How to Apply for 2020 Funding

MWCC Partners must apply using the online 2020 Capacity Support Proposal Form in Submittable. If your organization has an existing Submittable account, please use this account. If you do not already have a Submittable account, you will be able to create one when you click on the form link above. Either way, please make sure that your account name is in the name of your organization, not the name of an individual. (You can easily change this for existing accounts.) This will help MWCC better track your organization’s funding activity over time.

Be aware that the online application requires you to upload your current fiscal year budget, whether that is for the 2020 calendar year or for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020.

Here’s a quick video for Getting Started as a Submitter in Submittable.

You may download a Word version of the online proposal form below.

2021 Capacity Support Timeline

• June 10, 2021: Announcement of funding opportunity
• July 8, 2021: Proposals due
• August 16, 2021: Funding decisions made


Please contact Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols with any questions, and to discuss your funding ideas. Terri can also provide feedback on draft proposals submitted in the online form by 5 pm on Monday, July 13. If you wish to receive feedback on your draft, let Terri know when you submit.

Terri Nichols