Riverfront Resource Guide #2



Fundraising is necessary in order to take a riverfront project from idea to reality.

Fundraising for riverfront projects creates the opportunity for government agencies, foundations, individuals, and companies to invest in public waterfront amenities. There are two basic types of funding available: public and private. Public funds are provided by public agencies such as state governments or redevelopment authorities. Private funds are provided by private individuals, foundations, and companies.

Public and Private Funding

Since each riverfront project is unique, you might need to seek either public or private funds or a combination of both. Both public and private funds come with requirements. If you are seeking public funds, keep in mind that you will be required to demonstrate a direct public benefit, and hire vendors for design and construction through an open, public review process. Refer to your local procurement requirements. Public funds also often require a monetary match (ie: a state grant will provide $100,000 but you are required to match the funds with $100,000 of additional funds from another source).

Private funds, while more flexible, may require recognition in the form of signage and media. Some funding also requires a charitable organization (ie: 501c3) to accept and manage the money.

Both public and private funders will require funding goals and the demonstration of measurable outcomes. These outcomes and goals can be specific to documenting public benefit, economic value generation, diversity of users, and environmental gains. It is important to track before and after metrics (ie: images, pedestrian counts, and property value analysis) to be able to prove the impact of any financial investment.

Sample List of Sources of Public Funding (click to expand)

Federal Resources (regional offices)

  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency

State Resources (regional offices)

  • Department of Community and Economic Development
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Fish and Boat Commission

County/City Resources

  • City council
  • City planning department
  • City parks and recreation department
  • Local redevelopment authority
  • Business improvement districts (BIDs)
  • Neighborhood improvement districts (NIDs)
  • Community development corporations (CDCs)

Sample List of Sources of Private Funding (click to expand)


  • Major gifts
  • Annual pledged donation
  • In-kind donation (volunteer hours, products, services)
  • Bargain sale (i.e. property)


  • Community foundation
  • Private family foundation


  • Corporate foundations
  • Corporate sponsorship
  • In-kind donation (volunteer hours, products, services)