There will be one round of applications each year from 2016 – 2023. Congregations that meet all eligibility requirements and exemplify each of the five core criteria may work through the online application process. Typically 12 – 15 projects will be awarded into a group of participating congregations each year. All application submission steps take place through the online system linked at the bottom of this page. The letter of intent form will be made available on January 26, 2021. For 2021, the timeline will be:
GUIDELINES & ELIGIBILITY
The property must be located within the United States or its territories. It must have been originally built to be a house of worship, and owned by an active community of faith. Explore all National Fund eligibility and program guidelines below or download the full PDF:
- 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 $100,000. Grants from $100,001 to $250,000 require matching funds of 2:1.
- The applicant must demonstrate a need for project funds beyond the congregation’s typical donor base and membership.
- 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 $100,000 requires a 1:1 cash match, while grants of $100,001 or more will require a 2:1 cash match (for example, in a 2:1 scenario, a $200,000 grant will require the grantee to raise an additional $400,000 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, 2018, 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.
Grants will be paid in two installments: 50% will be paid upon receipt of an executed grant agreement and confirmation that 25% of grant-required matching funds have been secured (paid or pledged). The remaining 50% will be paid upon completion of the grant-funded project and confirmation that 100% of the grant-required matching funds have been secured.
Grantee agrees to make an Interim Progress Report when the project is 50% complete. The interim report can be in the form of a debriefing by conference call or video conference, an email message, or an online form. 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. Grantees typically will not be required to submit documentation of competitive bids, but should retain all related documentation for a period of three years post-grant and will provide documentation if requested. In exceptional circumstances where obtaining three competitive bids would be unreasonably difficult, the grantee may submit written rationale for considering a no-bid contract. 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 program covenant.
- Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgement of financial support from the NFSP in all printed materials generated for the project.
- 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.
- Certain kinds of sanctuary interior costs:
- Pipe organ restoration or replacement
- Sound equipment
- Replacement of pews or other primary sanctuary seating (restoration of historic pews may be considered for eligibility)
- 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 program award date (Expenses incurred prior to the capital grant award date may be deemed ineligible upon review of project documents)
Please review all program components, guidelines and eligibility requirements and the five core criteria carefully in determining whether to apply to the National Fund for Sacred Places program. All Letters of Intent (LOIs) and invited Applications must be completed through our online grants system, which you can access by clicking here or using the link below. We do not accept hard copy submissions of the letter of intent or full application. You can review a sample of last year’s letter of intent here, 2019 Letter of Intent (LOI) PDF Version. If you have questions about the grant program or application process, please contacts us.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic we are continuing on with our 2020 annual grant cycle as planned with the hopes that the country will be in a healthier place on October 1st when the 2020 cohort is admitted into the National Fund for Sacred Places.
The Letter of Intent (LOIs) process for 2020 is closed.