National Trust Preservation Funds: Guidelines & Eligibility
Grants from National Trust Preservation Funds (NTPF) are intended to encourage preservation at the local level by supporting on-going preservation work and by providing seed money for preservation projects. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for preservation projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector. A small grant at the right time can go a long way and is often the catalyst that inspires a community to take action on a preservation project. Grants generally start at $2,500 and range up to $5,000.
For the October 1, 2023 grant round, the National Trust Preservation Funds grant program has dedicated funding to award in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.
If your project is located in a state not listed above, we encourage you to contact us at email@example.com to discuss other National Trust grant opportunities that might be available.
Application and Review Timeline
There are three deadlines per year in February, June, and October. The selection process is very competitive. The next deadline for this program will be October 1, 2023. The application becomes available in our online grants application portal about 6-8 weeks prior to the deadline. The review process is generally completed within ten weeks of the application deadline, and applicants are notified via email once the review process is complete.
Applicants must be either a public agency, 501(c) (3), or other nonprofit organization to be considered eligible. Applicants that have received previous National Trust financial assistance are eligible provided that all grant requirements are current.
No more than three grants will be awarded in any two-year period to a single grantee. Only one grant will be awarded per organization in any grant round. Only one grant will be awarded for a particular project phase.
Only Organizational Level Preservation Leadership Forum Members, Main Street America Community Members, and Main Street America General Members are eligible to receive funding from the National Trust Preservation Fund. Organizations do not need to have an active membership to apply for a grant, but selected grantees will be required to become members prior to the release of funds. Your membership status will be verified by our grants office once award decisions have been made. If you have questions about your membership status, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants must be capable of matching the grant amount on a one-to-one basis. Both cash and in-kind donations count toward the one-to-one required match.
The required match can come from private or public sources, from income earned from registration fees or sales, or from fundraising activities. In-kind donations of labor, materials or services will also be considered eligible for meeting the matching requirement. Matching funds must be used to fund eligible expenses listed below. Other funding from the National Trust may not be used to match an NTPF grant.
Other conditions include:
- 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 for preservation work that result from the project 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. This provision applies only to portions of the project supported by NTPF grant funds.
- Consultants, if being used, must be approved by the National Trust before grant funds are disbursed. This approval process will happen post-notification. Board members of the applicant organization cannot serve as consultants unless appropriate conflict of interest procedures are followed and documented.
- Grant recipients are required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the program.
- Grant projects must either begin within six months of award date or a formal extension must be requested by email. Failure to begin the project or request an extension in this time frame may result in the cancellation of the grant and you will need to reapply for funding.
- Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgement of National Trust financial support in all printed materials generated for the project.
- Within one year from the grant award date, a final report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grant 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.
- Applicants must agree not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, creed, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, mental and physical disabilities, sex (including pregnancy), personal appearance, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, matriculation, political affiliation or veteran status.
National Trust Preservation Fund grants are awarded for planning activities and education efforts focused on preservation. Grant funds can be used to launch new initiatives or to provide additional support to on-going efforts.
Planning: Supporting existing staff (nonprofit applicants only) or obtaining professional expertise in areas such as architecture, archaeology, engineering, preservation planning, land-use planning, and law. Eligible planning activities include, but are not limited to:
- Hiring a preservation architect or landscape architect, or funding existing staff with expertise in these areas, to produce a historic structure report or historic landscape master plan.
- Hiring a preservation planner, or funding existing staff with expertise in this area, to produce design guidelines for a historic district.
- Hiring a real estate development consultant, or funding existing staff with expertise in this area, to produce an economic feasibility study for the reuse of a threatened structure.
- Sponsoring a community forum to develop a shared vision for the future of a historic neighborhood.
- Organizational capacity building activities such as hiring fundraising consultants, conducting board training, etc.
Education and Outreach: Support for preservation education activities aimed at the public. The National Trust is particularly interested in programs aimed at reaching new audiences. Funding will be provided to projects that employ innovative techniques and formats aimed at introducing new audiences to the preservation movement, whether that be through education programming or conference sessions.
- Building or other construction activities
- Academic research
- Acquisition of real property or objects
- General support for conferences
- Nonprofit applicants may include staff salaries for staff members directly working on the funded project
- Fees for consultant services
- Speaker fees/faculty costs for educational programs and conference sessions
- Mailing costs for distribution of materials
- The development of materials for education and outreach campaigns
- Materials and services such as printing, photographs, telephone, and supplies. With the exception of publications projects, these costs may not exceed 10 percent of the project budget.
- Organizational overhead costs
- Catering, food and beverage, entertainment
- Construction or other capital improvement costs
- Acquisition of real property or objects
- Expenses incurred prior to application date
Grant recipients will be selected by considering, among other points, the following criteria:
- The significance of the project or resource.
- The need for funding and the urgency of the project.
- The project’s budget and the applicant’s proven ability to secure a match.
- The project’s timeline.
- The long-term objectives or impact of the project.
- The qualifications of the key personnel, including consultants or staff.
- The demonstrated ability of the applicant to complete preservation projects.
- The potential to replicate the project in other communities.
Through the National Trust Preservation Funds grant program, the National Trust has very limited emergency/intervention funding available for which we accept inquiries on a rolling basis. Funding is awarded in emergency situations when immediate and unanticipated work is needed to save a historic property or site, such as when a fire or other natural disaster strikes or if a building is immediately threatened with demolition. Funding follows the same guidelines outlined on this page, however, a match is not required. If you have an emergency project that fits this description, please contact our Grants Office at email@example.com and share a brief description of the historic property or site, the nature of the emergency, and the expected use of funds. A representative from our Grants Office will follow up to share if we have funding available in your geographic area, if your project qualifies for this type of funding, and how to submit a formal application.
How to Apply
You will need the following items as part of your Preservation Funds application:
- Up to three digital images of high quality (300 dpi) with caption and credit information.
- Applicant's Internal Revenue Service determination letter of tax-exempt status. If tax-exempt status has not been fully approved by the IRS, please provide evidence of filing for certification and letter of opinion from an attorney concerning the applicant's tax status (nonprofit organizations).
- Letter of consent from property owner (if applicant does not own property).
- Completed National Trust Preservation Funds application, which includes a budget section that outlines proposed expenses and revenue for the project.
National Trust grants staff can provide helpful guidance for the application process if you have questions. If you have specific questions about your project's eligibility, please contact our grants staff.
You will be taken to the National Trust grants application system where you will need to create a user profile for your organization. If your organization has applied for a grant previously, you will sign into your existing organization profile. If you have questions please email us.
Please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book to ensure you receive email communications sent from our grants application system about your application.
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