August 24, 2015

How to Apply for Grants from the National Trust Preservation Fund

  • By: National Trust for Historic Preservation

This post originally appeared on the PreservationNation blog on January 14, 2013. An updated version from the Grants team appears here.

The Hershey Theater

Interior of the Hershey Theater.

Fun fact: In 2014, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded just over $1 million to nearly 200 projects across the country through its small grant program. This annual program supports local preservation organizations’ efforts to preserve and protect important places in their communities.

  • In Texas, Preservation Dallas received a grant to create a mobile app of The Pegasus Urban Trail. The trail, developed by local volunteer group the Urban Armadillos, takes visitors through areas of downtown Dallas and includes information on some of the city's most iconic buildings and places.
  • In South Carolina, the Historic Charleston Foundation used a grant to create a three dimensional photo-realistic digital rendering of the double parlors at the Aiken-Rhett House. The goal of project is to offer an alternative to replicating missing or damaged historic fabric and to enhance interpretation of the rooms in the mid-19th century grandeur.
  • In Oregon, the Liberty Theatre Foundation’s grant for their facade planning project resulted in a completed set of architectural plans to be used for the restoration of the Liberty in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the overall restoration project.

In the Grants office, we field calls and questions throughout the year about our grants program from people eager to do similar work in their communities. So we compiled a quick Q&A to help guide potential applicants. Read on to learn how a grant from the National Trust might be available to kickstart a preservation project in your hometown.

Q. What type of projects does the National Trust fund?

A. The majority of our funding comes from the National Trust Preservation Fund which supports preservation planning and educational projects.

  • Planning projects include obtaining professional expertise in areas such as architecture, archaeology, engineering, preservation planning, land-use planning, and law.
  • Education projects relate to preservation activities aimed at the public such as interpretation and outreach.

The National Trust is particularly interested in educational programs aimed at reaching new audiences. As a general rule we do not fund acquisition or construction costs.

Q. Who is eligible for a grant from the National Trust?

A. Nonprofit organizations and public agencies that are members of the National Trust at the Forum or Main Street level are eligible to apply for grants.

If you are a homeowner seeking funding for your historic house, check out our page for historic homeowners or contact your state historic preservation office (SHPO). If you are not eligible for our grant program, check out your SHPO to see what programs are offered in your state.

Q. Why do I have to be a member of Forum or Main Street to apply for a grant?

A. The Forum and Main Street programs provide tools to help you build a stronger preservation organization by providing access to critical information, special events and member-only resources, and discounts on conferences and training. Joining will help your organization advance its preservation goals. Visit their websites to learn more and join.

Q. How large are your grants?

A. Grants typically range from $2,500-$5,000 and require a dollar-for-dollar match. For example, if you are awarded a $5,000 grant, you need at least an additional $5,000 from other funding sources, and a total project cost of at least $10,000.

This match can be a grant from a foundation or other grant-making organization, funds raised from local support, or any other revenue source. Grant funds and matching funds must be spent on the eligible expenses listed in our grant guidelines.

How to Apply for Grants from the NTPF Alabama State Capitol Picture

photo by: Eric Hunt/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

Interior of the Alabama State Capitol Building.

Q. I heard that there is a fund dedicated to my state. How do I apply for that particular fund?

A. The National Trust Preservation Fund is made up of many endowed funds that are specific to states and/or regions, but all applicants use a common application form. Once an application is received, the Grants office will determine the most appropriate source of available funding.

All you need to worry about is making sure that the project fits the guidelines of the National Trust Preservation Fund program. Browse the full list of states with dedicated funding through the program.

Q. My state doesn't have a dedicated fund. Can I still receive a grant?

A. Yes. We have a number of funds -- also part of our National Trust Preservation Fund program -- that are not restricted to a particular state or region, and can be used to fund projects in any part of the country.

Q. Does the National Trust have any type of emergency funding?

A. We do have a very limited amount of emergency/intervention funding available in extreme circumstances. This funding is restricted to emergency situations when immediate and unanticipated work is needed to save a historic structure, such as when a fire or natural disaster strikes.

This funding is also restricted to nonprofit organizations and public agencies.

Emergency grants typically range from $1,000 to $5,000, but unlike the majority of our grant funding, a cash match is not required for intervention projects. (Learn more about how to apply for emergency and intervention funding.)

Q. When can I apply for a grant?

A. There are three annual deadlines for the National Trust Preservation Fund: February 1, June 1, and October 1. There are also special funds with a single deadline each year. Learn more about those special grant opportunities.

Q. How long does it take for me to hear back after applying for a grant?

A. We typically notify applicants of our grant decisions within eight weeks of the application deadline.

Are you ready to apply? Visit the Find Funding page on our website to read our full guidelines and access our online grant application system.

If you have any questions, please contact the Grants office directly. We would be happy to help answer any questions you might have.

Help us discover 1,000 places where American women have left their mark. Submit your place today.

Learn More