Program Details

Congregations accepted into the National Fund for Sacred Places program receive wraparound capacity-building and technical support services through training, planning grants, and ongoing assistance, along with matching capital grants.

Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral by National Park Service/ROSSIA

What We Offer

The National Fund for Sacred Places program provides much more than financial support. The program is designed to help congregations successfully navigate the capital project process through training, technical assistance, planning support, and matching capital grants.

St. Stephen United Methodist Church by Charles Davis Smith

Training & Program Orientation

Each congregation admitted into the National Fund for Sacred Places program 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 with the National Trust for Historic Preservation—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 program builds on decades of experience coaching communities of faith on best practices for resourcing the stewardship of their historic facilities. Previous grant recipients have described the training as one of the most valuable benefits of participating in the National Fund for Sacred Places.

Planning and Grants

Congregations invited to participate in the National Fund for Sacred Places program are eligible for planning grants of up to $10,000 to help defray costs of hiring experienced and qualified professional services for the project.

Planning 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

Planning grants cannot be used for audio/visual equipment or for consulting services from Partners for Sacred Places.

Congregation Beth Ahabah by Congregation Beth Ahabah Staff

United Baptist Church of Poultney by Chuck Helfer


Individualized Technical Assistance

Partners for Sacred Places has been assisting congregations and community stakeholders in the stewardship of historic sacred places for nearly 30 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.

For 70 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has led the movement to save America’s historic places. A privately funded nonprofit organization, we work to save America’s historic sitestell the full American storybuild stronger communities; and invest in preservation’s future. Our National Fund for Sacred Places team includes an architect with preservation experience, along with professional preservation experts who can provide technical assistance, make connections within the preservation leadership movement, and provide links to other potential resources.

Technical Assistance Package

Congregations awarded entry 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 and one of the services listed below.

Case Statement Review

In-depth assistance developing a fundraising case statement that sets the right tone, speaks to the correct audiences, and tells a compelling story.

Economic Halo Effect Study

Partners developed the Economic Halo Effect of Sacred Places, a tool used to quantify the economic impact of a congregation, to help congregations articulate their value in terms that civic leaders can fully appreciate.

Community Engagement

Assistance with organizing and facilitating an open house event, convening a small-scale asset mapping event that introduces select community stakeholders and civic leaders to the congregation and opens the door to new collaborations or partnerships, or assisting with interviews or strategic conversations with key local institutional and community leaders.

Professional Services Assistance

If your congregation is new to historic preservation projects, it may need help to craft a Request for Proposals (RFP); identify and vet architects, engineers, or artisans with historic preservation experience; identify and vet capital campaign consultants; or review contracts, conditions assessments, feasibility study reports, etc.

Senior Staff Mentorship

Feedback and advice from Partners’ Executive Vice President, Gianfranco Grande.

Capital Grants

The National Fund for Sacred Places differs from most other grant programs because the capital grant process is intentionally designed as a secondary step. Congregations are asked to estimate the capital grant amount they are seeking when they submit their Letter of Intent (LOI) and application. The final grant amount is determined by National Fund staff. After approving that all project components meet historic preservation standards and the congregation has the capacity to raise necessary match funds, capital grants are disbursed in two lump sums of 50% each.

Mokuaikaua Church by Michael Stelios/Alamy Stock Photo

The first 50% of the capital grant award will be paid when:

  1. The congregation has permit-ready architectural drawings or equivalent documentation that describes the proposed project and demonstrates that best practices for historic preservation will be implemented.
  2. The congregation has raised one-fourth of the total matching funds we require and has a sound plan for raising the remaining matching funds to complete the project.
  3. The congregation completes the Capital Grant Submission form in Foundant, the National Fund staff review and approve the capital grant documentation, and a signed grant award agreement has been returned by the congregation to National Fund staff.

The second 50% of the award is paid when:

  1. The National Fund scope of work has been completed and the grant and the matching funds have been spent on eligible project related expenses.
  2. 100% of the match has been pledged and/or raised.
  3. The awardees complete a final report in Foundant and a site visit with National Fund staff.

Grants may be used for urgent repair needs related to structural components, walls, roofs, and/or other elements of the building envelope that are integral to life safety; projects that improve the accessibility of the property in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and/or projects that make vacant or underutilized space more suitable for community use—including bricks-and-mortar construction costs and the associated management of construction and design services.

Capital Grant Submissions from congregations accepted into the National Fund for Sacred Places are reviewed on a quarterly basis. The submission deadlines for capital grants are February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. In extraordinary circumstances, such as weather-dependent work, the National Fund team is willing to review capital grants outside of the quarterly schedule on a case-by-case basis.

Please note you must receive approval from the National Fund before starting any physical work on your building, if the work is part of the project funded by the National Fund grant.

Matching Fund Requirements & Grant Payouts

Because National Fund grants are intended to leverage broader energy, resources, and dollars, all capital grants awarded from the National Fund require a cash match, and all matching funds must be new money—or money that’s solicited, pledged, and received after being awarded into the program.

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 congregation to raise an additional $400,000 in matching funds. The grant amount will not exceed 50% of the project cost.

The intent of requiring matching funds is to leverage new money raised because of the congregation’s participation in the National Fund for Sacred Places. Therefore, funds solicited, applied for, pledged, or secured prior to the congregation’s official acceptance into the program will not be counted toward the project match. For example, if the congregation received notification that its application was successful and its organization was accepted into the program in October 2022, any grants applied for and any donations solicited prior to that date, even if the funds were received after October, would not be eligible as matching funds.

Grants will be paid in two installments: 50% will be paid upon the execution of a capital 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. No portion of the grant will be paid until grant request applications are received, reviewed, and approved.

The congregation must agree to create an Interim Progress Report when the project is 50% complete. The Interim Progress Report can be in the form of a debriefing by conference call or video conference, an email message, or an online form. The report must describe the status of the project and all expenditures made from grant funds as well as provide an update on the congregation’s compliance with the terms of their grant agreement.

Grantees must provide documentation for any single matching gift of $25,000 or more. In addition, grantees must agree that they will retain documentation of all matching funds for a period of three years post-grant, and will share this documentation with National Fund staff if requested.

Your match can include:

  • Congregational giving
  • Cash or documented pledges from individuals, foundations, or corporations
  • Government grants
  • Organizational funds
  • Funds raised through events, raffles, and other fundraising efforts
  • Proceeds from the sale of stock or real estate
  • 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 National Fund staff to ensure that the pledged amount is properly determined and documented.

Your match cannot include:

  • Reserve funds
  • Bridge or construction loans
  • Funds solicited, applied for, pledged, or secured prior to official acceptance into the program. For example, if the grantee received notification that their application was successful and their organization was accepted into the program on October 1, 2021, any grants applied for and any donations solicited prior to that date, even if the funds were received after October 1, would not count toward the match.


After a congregation is notified of acceptance into the National Fund for Sacred Places program, new money raised can count toward its capital grant match. Ideally, participants complete their National Fund project and fundraising match within 12–18 months of being awarded into the program, but timing may depend upon the particulars of a congregation’s project and campaign. Click below to learn more about the application and program timeline.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about the National Fund for Sacred Places program, what we offer, or how to get started? Read our FAQs to find answers to the most common questions.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church by Richie Diesterheft