Guidelines 2017-04-17T11:42:28+00:00


Please review the Eligibility Requirements prior to consulting these guidelines.

Grant Deadlines

There will be one grant round scheduled each calendar year. For 2017, LOIs will be due on May 1st. If invited to continue the process, a congregation will be asked to submit a full application in July. Final notifications will be made in early October.


Application Process

There is a three step process to receive a capital grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places (NFSP):

  1. Letter of Intent: A preliminary indication of interest and capacity to be completed online.
  2. Application: For congregations whose Letter of Intent is accepted, a fuller application detailing congregational traits, leadership, programming and the proposed capital project is invited. If the application is accepted, a required period of consultation and technical assistance led by Partners for Sacred Places will be initiated.
  3. Capital Grant Request: For congregations that successfully complete the consultation and technical assistance, a detailed request for capital funds will be invited. Successful requests will be funded with a matching grant as outlined in the Eligibility Requirements.

Matching Funds

All capital grants awarded from the National Fund for Sacred Places require a cash match. Any grant under a $100,000 requires a 1:1 cash match, while grants of $100,000 or more will require a 2:1 cash match (for example, in a 2:1 scenario, a $100,000 grant will require the grantee to raise an additional $200,000 in matching funds). The grant amount will not exceed 50% of the project cost.

Sources of match may include:

  • Written pledges or cash from individuals, foundations, or corporations
  • Proceeds from the sale of stock, real estate or other property
  • Government grants
  • Organizational funds
  • Congregational giving
  • Funds raised through events, raffles, and other fundraising efforts
  • Matured bequests
  • In-kind materials and professional services that directly benefit the grant-funded project. In-kind donations may not exceed 20% of the required matching funds. Value will be based on the fair market value of donated materials or services. Grantees that will be using in-kind donations as part of their match should be in contact with the fund administrator to ensure that the pledged amount is properly determined and documented.

Bridge or construction loans and reserve funds of the congregation cannot count as matching funds.

The intent of requiring Matching Funds is to leverage new money raised because of the grantee’s participation in the Fund. Therefore, funds solicited, applied for, pledged or secured prior to the grantee’s official acceptance into the program will not be counted toward the project match. For example, if the grantee received notification that their application was successful and their organization was accepted into the program on October 1, 2017, any grants applied for and any donations solicited prior to that date, even if the funds were received after October 1, would not be eligible as matching funds.

Grantees will need to provide documentation for any single matching gift of $25,000 or more. Grantees will agree to retain documentation on all matching gifts for a period of three years post-grant and will provide documentation on all gifts if requested by the administrators of this fund.

Capital Grant Payment

The Grant will be paid in two equal installments. The first installment of 50% of the Grant will be paid following receipt by the Grantor of the 1) fully executed grant agreement, and 2) proof that the grantee has 25% of the grant required match funds pledged or in hand. The second installment of 50% of the Grant will be paid after 1) the project is complete, 2) the grantee has submitted a final report which demonstrates the project was finished in compliance of the terms stated in the above mentioned grant contract, and 3) the grantee provides confirmation that 100% of the grant-required matching funds have been secured.

Grantee agrees to submit an Interim Progress Report when the project is 50% complete. The interim report must be submitted online, and the report shall describe the status of the project and all expenditures made from Grant funds, and shall report on Grantee’s compliance with the terms of this Agreement.

Grant Conditions

Grant recipients will be required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the NFSP. Other grant conditions include:

  • Grant recipients must meet the Eligibility Requirements, including the match requirements.
  • Projects that are intended solely to enhance the worship space or worship experience are not eligible for this program.
  • The National Fund for Sacred Places is a preservation program, not a program for new construction.
  • Overall stewardship of a congregation’s historic resources, or the sacred place’s impact on community historic resources, will be part of the evaluation. A project or plan that requires demolition of an historic building or has an adverse impact on an historic resource will not be eligible, even if the demolition or impact is not funded by the National Fund for Sacred Places.
  • Grants or matching funds cannot be used directly or indirectly to influence a member of Congress to favor or oppose any legislation or appropriation.
  • Any documents or plans, and all completed projects, must conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
  • At least three (3) competitive bids/quotes must be obtained for any procurement of services that exceed $50,000. This provision applies only to portions of the project supported by NFSP grant funds.
  • Consultants must be approved by the National Trust (NT) and Partners for Sacred Places (PSP) before grant funds are disbursed.
  • National Fund for Sacred Places grants cannot be used to pay staff salaries. Board members of the applicant organization cannot serve as consultants unless appropriate conflict of interest procedures are followed and documented.
  • Grant projects must begin within the time frame contained in the grant agreement. Failure to begin the project in this time frame may result in the cancellation of the grant and the need to reapply for funding.
  • Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgement of financial support from the NFSP in all printed materials generated for the project.
  • Status reports of progress with the capital project are required quarterly. Within 6 (six) months from the completion date, a final report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grant funds must be submitted. A final report form will be provided. If the project is not completed in accordance with the contract, the grant funds must be returned.


Partners for Sacred Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation will convene its Grant Advisory Committee to evaluate the application and ensure that it meets the above listed eligibility requirements. Decisions will be made by staff members, with input from the Advisory Committee, according to the merit of the application, taking into consideration the following criteria:

  • Cultural, architectural, or historical significance of the property
  • Congregational health, including:
    • Stable clergy and lay leadership that are in consensus
    • Stable or growing membership body
    • Established partnerships that in some way benefit the community
    • Positive relationship with denominational hierarchy
    • History of financial accountability
    • Successful management of previous capital projects
    • Commitment to caring for the building
  • Strength of outreach provided by the congregation or housed on site
  • Degree to which the property is accessible to the public or serves a broad segment of the community, and degree to which the proposed work to the property will positively affect community usability of the property
  • Participation and completion of pre-grant training and other work
  • Pending levels of funding for the project
  • Readiness and ability to contribute matching funds to the project. Applicants should anticipate that all awards will reflect the respective applicant’s fundraising plan and ability to manage a project of the scope that is proposed. If the Committee finds that an applicant will be unable to match the grant requested, the Committee is at liberty to reduce the size of the award.
  • Urgency of proposed repair/renovation project, and need for funding.

In addition, the Committee and staff will consider the following factors in selecting congregations for participation in the program each year:

  • Broad representation across denominations and faith traditions as well as geographic areas (urban, suburban, and rural locations)
  • The leveraging of regional funding, both public and private, that will support these capital projects

Eligible Capital Grant Activities and Expenses

The National Fund for Sacred Places grants are awarded for capital preservation projects. Grants may be used for the restoration, rehabilitation, stabilization, and preservation of designated historic sites and structures, including bricks-and-mortar construction and associated management of construction and design services.

Ineligible Capital Grant Activities and Expenses

  • Academic research
  • Historic building reports or historic resource surveys
  • Consultant services (except as noted above)
  • Conferences and educational workshops
  • Media and marketing
  • Acquisition of property or limited property rights
  • Staff or faculty salaries; volunteer reimbursements
  • Organizational overhead costs
  • Catering, entertainment, food and beverage costs
  • Expenses incurred prior to the grant award date