The National Fund is a grant-making program. Congregations awarded to participate in the program receive two critical resources to support the stewardship of their historic facilities:

1) Wraparound capacity-building and technical support services—



2) CAPITAL GRANTS toward an identified scope of building restoration.






Each congregation in the participant group is required to send a team of 2-3 key leaders to a training event—led by a staff team from Partners for Sacred Places—to begin the grant-making program experience.

The training is designed to achieve three goals that build on the participating congregations’ capacity to successfully complete a major capital building project and fundraising campaign:

Orient participant teams to the timeline of activities and program requirements of the National Fund.

Provide expertise on capital campaign fundraising tailored to various campaign stages.

Introduce participant teams to an ecumenical and interfaith group for peer learning and sharing of ideas.

Partners for Sacred Places has led training experiences for hundreds of congregations across the United States. Training content for the National Fund builds on decades of experience coaching communities of faith on best practices for resourcing the stewardship of their historic facilities.

You may review a Sample National Fund Training Agenda from 2017 to get an idea of potential topics and timing for the training days.

First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had already successfully raised over $1 million and completed most of the planning for its multifaceted capital building project when the congregation was awarded into the 2016-17 National Fund group. Yet the training the church’s team experienced expanded their vision for partnership with community benefit organizations in the broader community.

I expected to leave understanding how to engage in external fundraising. Make no mistake, we left having clear strategies on the next steps for our Capital Campaign. What I did not expect was to leave with a paradigm shift on ministry at First Christian Reformed Church…

The training challenged us to articulate the church’s role and investment we make in the community through our ministry.

Pastor Randy Buursma


Congregations awarded participation in the program receive planning grants upon request to help defray costs of hiring experienced and qualified professional services for the project.

Planning grants are administered to participants on a rolling basis upon request, and typically average $5000. Grants can be used for a wide variety of professional services needed beyond the expertise of the congregation. Previous participants have used planning grants to defray costs associated with hiring professional services for:

Building Condition Assessments

Conceptual Architectural Renderings

Campaign Marketing Design

Campaign Video Production

Donor Research

Board Development

Like many National Fund participants, Trinity United Methodist Church, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, embarked on a once-in-a-generation campaign to restore their grand Tudor Revival facility. The congregation had rarely worked with professional architects in the past, but quickly came to understand the value of careful project planning. Trinity was able to pair reserve funds with a $5,000 planning grant from the National Fund to obtain a building condition assessment by an experienced preservation architect in the region.

Read about Trinity’s participation in the National Fund at Interpreter, the denominational magazine of the United Methodist Church.


Participating congregations receive a package of individualized technical assistance provided by Partners for Sacred Places

Partners for Sacred Places has been assisting congregations and community stakeholders in the stewardship of historic sacred places for nearly thirty years. Grounded in these experiences Partners has developed unique tools and resources to help congregations care for their buildings and fully utilize them, all rooted in the core conviction that historic sacred places are vital community assets. Partners makes these tools and resources available through an array of training and consulting programs in several core areas:

Capital Campaign Fundraising

Arts Partnerships and other Space-Sharing Strategies

Community Engagement

Economic “Halo”/Valuation Studies


Congregations awarded into the National Fund receive an individualized package of technical assistance based on these services, and tailored to the needs of congregations currently invested in major capital building efforts. The technical assistance package typically includes at least one on-site visit to the congregation to present an orientation to the National Fund program and conduct related activities. These activities focus on best practices for capital campaign fundraising, including engaging deeper levels of support from community stakeholders, and share advice for leveraging the benefits of the National Fund into greater financial success.

This assistance may include:

Advising the campaign steering committee

Accompanying congregational leaders to meet with local funders or civic leaders

Meeting with the project architect regarding preservation considerations

Conducting a space-sharing workshop

Facilitating a stakeholder event

Once awarded into the program, participating congregations are assigned a staff contact who will coordinate on-site activities and maintain remote correspondence throughout the duration of the program for advice, coaching, and support as needed.


After finalizing a comprehensive fundraising plan and scope of work—and once participating congregations have completed the National Fund training and received other capacity-building services—participants are ready to request a capital grant of $50,000-250,000

These grants may be used for the restoration, rehabilitation, stabilization, and preservation of designated historic sites and structures, including bricks-and-mortar construction costs and the associated management of construction and design services.

The final grant amount is determined by  the match that the congregation is able to raise, and after approval that all project components meet historic preservation standards. Capital grants are disbursed in two lump sums of 50% each:

  • The first half of the grant is disbursed after 25% of the match has been pledged and/or raised.
  • The final grant disbursement is made after 100% of the match has been pledged and/or raised, and after all project pieces have been completed and approved by National Fund program staff.


The National Fund is intended to leverage broader energy, resources and dollars for urgent capital projects beyond the internal capacity of the congregation and the National Fund grant itself. For this reason, all participating congregations are required to raise matching dollars for their capital grant award.


*All matching funds must be new money– solicited, pledged and received after being awarded into the program*

1:1 match for $50,000 – $100,000 grant

2:1 match for $100,001 – $250,000 grant (i.e. a congregation applying for a capital grant of $250,000 would need to raise $500,000 in matching funds)




After a congregation is notified of acceptance into the National Fund program, new money raised can count towards their capital grant match. Participants may be able to complete the program at different paces according to the particulars of their projects and campaign.

Ideally participants complete the National Fund project and fundraising match within 12-18 months of being awarded into the program.