Hart Family Fund for Small Towns: Guidelines & Eligibility

Hart Family Fund for Small Towns: Guidelines & Eligibility

Grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns are intended to encourage preservation at the local level by providing seed money for preservation projects in small towns. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for particular projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector. 

Grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns generally range from $2,500 to $15,000. The selection process is very competitive. The review process is generally completed within three months of the application deadline, and applicants are notified via email once the review process is complete.

The application deadline is May 2, 2022.


Only Organizational Level Forum members or Main Street America members of the National Trust are eligible to apply for funding from the Hart Family Fund for Small TownsTo learn more about Forum and to join today, visit our website. If you have questions about your membership status, please email members@savingplaces.org. 

  • Public agencies and nonprofit organizations in towns with a population of 10,000 or less are eligible. 
  • Applicants that have received previous National Trust financial assistance are eligible provided that all grant requirements are current.
  • Only one grant will be awarded per organization in any grant round.  Only one grant will be awarded for a particular project phase.

Grant Conditions

Applicants must be capable of matching the grant amount dollar-for-dollar.  A cash match is required and can come from private or public sources, or from income earned from registration fees or fundraising activities.  Donated materials and services, staff salaries and organizational overhead costs are not eligible sources of a match.  Other funding from the National Trust may not be used to match a Hart Fund 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 the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns
  • Consultants must be approved by the National Trust before grant funds are disbursed. Hart Fund grants cannot be used to pay staff salaries. 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 begin within six months of award date. Failure to begin the project in this timeframe 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.

Eligible Activities

Hart Family Fund for Small Towns grants are awarded for planning activities and education efforts focused on preservation. 

Planning: Support for 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 to produce a historic structure report or historic landscape master plan
  • Hiring a preservation planner to produce design guidelines for a historic district
  • Hiring a real estate development consultant 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 

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

Ineligible Activities

  • Building or other construction activities
  • Academic research
  • Acquisition of real property or objects
  • Historic resource surveys to create inventories or to list resources in the National Register
  • General support for conferences
  • Organizational capacity building activities unless pre-approved by the National Trust

Eligible Expenses

  • 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.

Ineligible Expenses

  • Staff or faculty salaries
  • Organizational overhead costs
  • Catering, food and beverage, entertainment
  • Construction or other capital improvement costs
  • Expenses incurred prior to award 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
  • The demonstrated ability of the applicant to complete preservation projects
  • The potential to replicate the project in other communities

How to Apply

You will need the following items as part of your Hart Fund application:

  • Up to four digital images of high quality (300 dpi) with caption and credit information
  • A list of the applicant's current board of directors (nonprofit organizations)
  • 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)
  • Resume of consultant for project (if the consultant has been chosen)
  • Resume of personnel administering project
  • Up to two letters of endorsement
  • Letter of consent from property owner  (if applicant does not own property)
  • Completed Hart Fund application form, 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.


The application will become available 6-8 weeks ahead of the deadline. Fill out an application for the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns here. (Please note: you will be taken to our grants application system where you will need to create a user profile for your organization. This is a separate login than your National Trust login.) If you have questions, please email us.