What We’re Looking For

What We’re Looking For 2017-08-09T11:19:00+00:00

OUR TEAM ASSESSES APPLICANTS ACCORDING TO FIVE KEY CRITERIA TO DETERMINE HOW WELL THEY FIT OUR FUNDING PRIORITIES. HERE’S WHAT MAKES A CONGREGATION STAND OUT AS AN IDEAL CANDIDATE FOR THE PROGRAM

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For the sake of continuity, we use the term “congregation” to refer to the worshipping body or faith community of any religion including those that do not identify with this term (such as mosques/masjid). The National Fund accepts applications from any faith tradition and seeks to provide inclusive programming and resources across religions.

NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE

Buildings with national architectural, historic, and cultural importance–Owned by an active congregation


Being listed as a National Historic Landmark or on the National Register of Historic Places is a benchmark to know whether or not a congregation’s building qualifies for support from our program. A building must at least be eligible for one of these designations to recieve support from the National Fund.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

LEARN MORE ABOUT NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARKS

But the building’s historic listing is just the beginning. What we are really looking for is congregations that have shaped American religious history in an important way.

Who designed the building? Was the building designed by an architect? How does it rank in the body of that architect’s work? What style is the building?

Who physically built the facility? What was the role of members and local craftspeople? What was the source of building materials?

Did the selection of building style have theological/religious significance?

 How does the building uniquely contribute to the rich legacy of religious architecture nationally?

How does your congregation’s history relate to themes in American history and American religious history?

Who founded the congregation? How did they relate to the community? 

How did the congregation respond to key events in local or national history?

How has your building or complex of buildings served as a symbol of your community’s heritage?

We are looking for congregations that can answer questions like these with dynamic and vital stories.


The Basilica of Saint Josaphat, a 2016-17 National Fund grantee, is a shining example. It was founded by Polish immigrants who would shape the cultural fabric of the city for decades to come. Read about the campaign to preserve the architectural grandeur of the Basilica: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Congregations with innovative programs that serve members and the broader community


Partners for Sacred Places has long advocated the value of congregations to the common good of their communities, most notably with a landmark national study in 1998 titled Sacred Places at Risk, and expanded research published in 2016 on the economic “halo” effect of sacred places.

Ideal candidates for the National Fund are not just historic landmarks, but are actively engaged with their community through collaborative partnerships and opening their doors to share space as much as possible. Partners recommends Asset-Based Community Development and similar strategies that cultivate connections within the community, mobilize the capacities of local individuals, associations, and institutions and empower community residents to become leaders. Grantees will have access to use Partners’ unique Public Value Tool as one way to measure their community impact.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ASSET-BASED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PUBLIC VALUE TOOL

LEARN MORE ABOUT ARTS IN SACRED PLACES

We are looking for congregations with long-standing and multi-faceted impact in local neighborhoods and communities.

What is the congregation’s most impactful program?

What spaces are shared for use by organizations and other stakeholders?

How does the congregation partner with other organizations to serve the common good of the community?


Urban Grace in Tacoma, Washington, opens their multi-story facility for use by an array of arts and community groups everyday of the week. This 2016-17 National Fund grantee models the robust approach to space-sharing we are looking for.

Another grantee, Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, partners with an array of in-house organizations and programs to support its ministry through educational and other social services. This partnership spans nearly a century of neighborhood impact.

NEED FOR FUNDING

Urgent repair needs that require financial support beyond the internal capacity of the congregation


All projects must respect the historic character and materials of the building(s) and adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Elements of any project funded by capital grants from the National Fund, and related matching funds, must also comply with these Guidelines and Eligibility Requirements. ADD LINK

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR’S STANDARDS
National Fund candidates will have completed or be prepared to complete several key project planning steps:

Identify an architect with experience in historic preservation to oversee the project (see “How to Interview an Architect” on p. 13)

Obtain a professional building condition assessment (read more here) or historic structures report

Identify the scope of work to be completed with current campaign (see “From Survey to Scope” on p. 12)

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAINTAINING HISTORIC RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS
LEARN MORE ABOUT PRESERVATION GRANTS FOR PROJECT PLANNING

CAMPAIGN READINESS

The capacity to leverage this grant to raise matching funds, and the experience, energy and opportunity to complete a significant capital fundraising campaign


We recognize that congregations will have a wide range of previous experiences with capital campaigns. For some, this may be a once in a generation experience, while others mount significant campaigns every decade. Yet others may not have raised substantial funds to care for the facility since it was first built long ago. The National Fund is designed to accommodate this range of experiences.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING

Yet there are several practical steps and considerations that can best position a congregation to participate in the National Fund.

Has a feasibility study been conducted to determine the fundraising capacity of the congregation?

Will the congregation be hiring a consultant to shepherd the campaign experience?

All grantees must be able to raise matching funds within the National Fund program timeframe.

HEALTHY CONGREGATIONS

Congregations with strong clergy and lay leadership, financial health, and the energy and support for a vibrant future


The most effective and sustaining way for sacred places to be meaningfully preserved into the future is ensuring that they continue to house thriving congregations or communities of faith. For this reason, and for the well-being of the communities they serve, ideal National Fund candidates are stable and thriving congregations with a vision for their future vitality.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PARTNERS’ NEW DOLLARS/NEW PARTNERS PROGRAM

Applicants will be assessed for financial and membership capacity. But what we are really looking for is congregations with measurable vitality for ministry.

Is the senior clergy person established in tenure, trusted and capable to lead through change?

How has the congregation navigated conflict and trauma?

Is there evidence of judicatory support for the current project and the future life of the congregation?

We are looking for congregations who can respond with thoughtfulness and clarity about their own health and capacity.

LEARN HOW ONE CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION MEASURES CONGREGATIONAL VITALITY

Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a 2016-17 National Fund grantee in Chicago, clearly frames how the health and spiritual vitality of the congregation relates to stewardship of building resources. Learn more about their campaign to restore the oldest African American church in Chicago.

Restoration has three components… One is restoring the relationship of the people to the God they serve… The second is restoring the relationship of the church to the community. And then of course that third component is restoring the facilities and the facilities around us.

Pastor James Moody

COHORT DIVERSITY

In addition to all of the individual factors, we will select a diverse group of congregations to participate in the National Fund as a cohort each year


We are looking for a wide range of participation in the program every year, seeking congregations from an array of denominational affiliations, religious traditions, geographic regions, economic strata and racial and cultural identity. We strive to support urban, rural and suburban sacred places in every region of the country.

This diversity helps achieve the program goal of elevating compelling and unique stories of American religious experience in many forms. And it positions the National Fund and grantees to leverage regional funding, both public and private, to support these capital projects.

In 2016-17, the inaugural program year of the National Fund, the cohort of 14 grantees represented:

11 different denominations*

3 small town/rural congregations

3 small cities

8 urban centers

Several congregations of color and racially integrated congregations.

*Due to funding constraints, the first cohort of grantees was limited to Christian churches. Beginning with the 2017-18 funding cycle, the National Fund is open to applicants from any faith tradition. For the sake of continuity, we use the term “congregation” to refer to the worshipping body or faith community of any religion including those that do not identify with this term (such as mosques/masjid). The National Fund accepts applications from any faith tradition and seeks to provide inclusive programming and resources across religions.