There will be one round of applications each year from 2016 – 2019. Congregations that meet all eligibility requirements and exemplify each funding priority may work through the online application process. Roughly 12 – 15 projects will be selected to join a new program cohort each year.
Application deadlines will be posted in January for the upcoming year. For 2017, the timeline will be:
What We’re Looking For
Our staff team and Advisory Committee assess applicants according to five key criteria, while building a cohort that reflects our country’s geographic, cultural, and religious diversity.
Learn more about what makes a project stand out and what we look for in an ideal candidate.
Guidelines & Eligibility
Please review all guidelines and program conditions below, or download the list of [Guidelines and Eligibility Requirements]
- The property must be located within the United States or its territories.
- The property must have been originally built to be a house of worship, and owned by an active community of faith.
- The property must have architectural, cultural or historic value that is of regional or national significance, and be listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Special emphasis will be placed on sites that have had a prominent physical and/or historical place in the community.
- The property must be occupied by a congregation that is community minded and has a demonstrated interest in providing outreach ministries that benefit both members and nonmembers. Special emphasis will be placed on congregations that share space and partner with other nonprofit organizations, and plan to make the most of their building as an asset for community renewal and service.
- The property must have urgent repair needs including structural components, walls, roof, and/or other elements of the building envelope or mechanical systems that are integral to life safety. Projects that improve the usability or ADA accessibility of the property are also eligible. Also, renovation projects that make vacant or underused space usable for important community outreach are eligible.
- Anticipated projects must respect the historic character and materials of the building(s), and adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
- Projects must be able to raise matching funds at a 1:1 rate for grants of $50,000 to $99,999. Grants from $100,000 to $250,000 require matching funds of 2:1.
- The applicant must prove that is it not able to raise the total cost of the project from congregational membership/regular donor base alone.
- Grant funds are intended to support projects that are not yet completed. Therefore, reimbursements cannot be issued for any payments made prior to the date of the executed grant agreement.
- The applicant must be a religious congregation or closely affiliated nonprofit organization.
- The applicant must exhibit several signs of positive organizational health, including most or all of the following:
- Stable clergy and lay leadership that are in consensus around project goals
- Stable or growing membership
- Established partnerships with external entities
- If applicable, positive and supportive relationship to regional denominational office
- History of financial accountability and record-keeping
- Successful management of previous capital repair projects
- The applicant must have been in existence for a minimum of three years prior to the date of application.
- The congregation must work with Partners for Sacred Places, which will provide customized technical assistance to all grantees, prior to disbursement of capital grants. Before they are awarded, recipients are required to:
- Develop a comprehensive building repair plan with an experienced, qualified building professional or team of professionals, normally including an architect
- Develop a realistic budget and timetable for completing the work
- Develop a realistic fundraising plan to meet project goals
Please note that the applicant is not required to have developed a repair plan, budget, timetable, or fundraising plan prior to application.
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions
All National Fund awardees must:
- Have been originally built to be a house of worship, and owned currently by an active congregation;
- Have architectural, cultural or historic value that is of regional or national significance, and be listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places;
- Be occupied by a congregation that is actively engaged in its community, with demonstrated capacity for outreach ministries that serve members and nonmembers—with special emphasis placed on congregations that share space and partner with other nonprofit organizations, and plan to make the most of the sacred place as a community asset;
- Have urgent repair needs, with a project scope to be completed after grants are awarded;
- Propose projects that respect the historic character and materials of the building(s) and adhere to the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation;
- Have demonstrated financial need;
Yes! While the majority of awardees will be Christian churches, the National Fund supports synagogues, temples, mosques and houses of worship from any faith tradition.
All participating congregations receive planning grants, training, and specialized consulting services in support of their projects. Partners for Sacred Places is a nationally recognized leader in training congregations for effective community partnerships, capital campaign consulting for congregations, preservation of religious properties, and effectively communicating the economic impact of congregations in their communities. The full breadth and depth of these resources are deployed to assist and support National Fund participants.
Please review all program components, eligibility requirements, and funding priorities carefully to determine whether your project is a good fit. Any congregation that meets all criteria may apply online.
The LOIs for 2017 are currently closed. Look back for the online LOI form for 2018 in January.