What We Offer
Christ Church Philadelphia by Samuel Markey
What We’re Looking For
The National Fund for Sacred Places assesses applicant eligibility according to the core criteria shown below, while also striving to build a diverse participant pool that reflects a broad range of geographic, cultural, and religious identities.
Historic, Cultural, or Architectural Significance
We are looking for buildings that have historic, cultural, or architectural significance—and sites that have important and relevant stories to tell. Many of our participants are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the state register, or the local register. Your building does not have to be on one of these lists, but eligibility for one or more of these lists is a good benchmark for National Fund eligibility.
As part of the National Trust’s commitment to telling the full American story, we particularly encourage congregations to apply that illuminate a unique or overlooked aspect of American history and that expand our understanding of our shared national heritage. We encourage submissions related to historic sacred places of importance to historically and contemporaneously underrepresented communities including, but not limited to, women, immigrants, Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and LGBTQIA communities.
Successful applicants are able to demonstrate their place in history by answering questions such as:
- Does the building tell a story relevant to our history—either cultural or religious?
- Does the history highlight previously underrecognized communities, stories, or locations?
- How has the building served the community over time? Does the building have a great physical presence in its community due to its location or programming?
- Is the building the work of a notable architect? If so, is it a high-quality example of their body of work?
- Is the building an exceptional example of its architectural style or building technology?
- Does the building embody the congregation’s resilience over time?
We are looking for congregations that are engaged in their communities and that are serving others. Engaged congregations operate and host programming that serves vulnerable, at-risk, and diverse populations; share space with non-affiliated groups and organizations (often at subsidized rates); work with other congregations, faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and/or municipalities; and have a widespread reputation for being a welcoming center of community life.
Project Scope and Need
We fund historic preservation projects addressing urgent repair needs and/or life safety. We also fund projects that increase congregations’ ability to open their buildings to new populations or to serve greater numbers of people. All projects must adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which is a universally accepted framework for doing work to older and historic properties.
We prioritize congregations/projects where there is a demonstrated need (meaning that the congregation cannot raise the funds alone) or where it is clear that our grant will have a catalytic effect (meaning that our grant is likely to lead to additional monies being contributed to the project).
Once-in-a-generation capital projects require a great deal of planning. We are looking for applicants that understand their buildings’ needs and that are ready to undertake a capital campaign. National Fund congregations typically have a history of successful capital campaigns, which demonstrate an ability to raise significant funds and complete a project.
Successful congregations come to us with a realistic fundraising goal, which has been generated with the help of qualified preservation professionals and is not too far beyond the congregation’s fundraising capacity.
The National Fund prioritizes healthy, stable congregations so that our investment is truly impactful and lasting. We look for the following, although this is not an exhaustive list of characteristics that indicate healthy congregations: tenured, well-respected clergy; capable lay leadership; stable or growing membership; financial strength and stability; support of the judicatory or governing body, if applicable; and a history of weathering any congregational conflict or trauma with resilience.
The National Fund is a very competitive program, so we urge our applicants to give it their best effort. Applications should:
- Be completed in full with all required attachments
- Make a compelling case for support
- Clearly articulate the project’s goals and components
- Include high-quality, high-resolution photographs with photo credits that help us to fully appreciate your building(s)
Is your building, congregation, and project eligible? Read the eligibility guidelines and requirements, or use the self-assessment questionnaire to determine if you are a good fit for the National Fund for Sacred Places program.
First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe by Krista Peterson
Interested in applying to the National Fund for Sacred Places?
Grant recipients will be required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the National Fund program. Grant conditions include:
Grant recipients must acknowledge that the National Fund for Sacred Places is a historic preservation program, not a program for new construction.
Grants or matching funds cannot be used directly or indirectly to influence a member of Congress to favor or oppose any legislation or appropriation.
Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgement of financial support from the National Fund program in all printed materials generated for the project.
At least three (3) competitive bids/quotes must be obtained for any procurement of services that exceed $50,000. Congregations 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 be able to provide documentation if requested. In exceptional circumstances where obtaining three competitive bids is unreasonably difficult or if the congregation has a preferred contractor that they have a history with, the congregation may submit written rationale for considering a no-bid contract. This provision applies only to portions of the project supported by National Fund program grant funds.
Overall stewardship of a congregation’s historic resources, or the church’s impact on community historic resources, is part of the evaluation. A project or plan that requires demolition of a historic building or has an adverse impact on a historic resource will not be eligible, even if the demolition or impact is not funded by the National Fund for Sacred Places.
Consultants must be approved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Partners for Sacred Places prior to the distribution of funds.
National Fund grants cannot be used to pay staff salaries. Board members of the congregation’s organization cannot serve as consultants unless appropriate conflict of interest procedures are followed and documented.
Grant projects must be completed within the timeframe outlined in the grant award letter. Projects cannot begin construction until National Fund staff have reviewed and approved provided plans and documentation.
A final report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grant funds must be submitted within six (6) months of the project completion date. A final report form will be provided. If the project is not completed in accordance with the contract, the grant funds must be returned.
Learn more about what we offer, including additional information about training support, planning grants, technical assistance, capital grants, and matching funds.
Sacred Heart Parish by Sacred Heart Parish
Apply For A Grant
Learn more about project eligibility, grant requirements, the application process, and how you can get started.
First Congregational United Church of Christ by Steve Bourne
Stories and Media Coverage
Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez