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How to Save a Place Fundraising Basics
Raise money to support what matters. Fundraising isn’t about money -- it’s about your mission. People give because they feel passionate about a cause and because they believe they can make a difference. Highlight the work you’re doing to make a difference and tell your donor how they’ll be a part of it.
People give to people. People are behind the foundations, corporations, and government agencies that you might appeal to for a grant or donation. Find out as much as possible about prospective supporters to help you build meaningful and lasting relationships.
Be accountable; be ethical. Be transparent with those who are helping support your work. It’s important to accurately track and report fundraising revenue and expenses. A big part of transparency is sharing results. Hosting tours and events for donors at your historic site will help you show that their financial support made a tangible difference.
Successful fundraising starts with a plan. Before you can reach out to individuals and institutions, you need to have a funding goal and a plan for how you’ll reach it. Make a list of people and places you will ask for funding and how much. Decide when you’ll write your letters and/or apply for grants; you’ll likely need funding at different points along the way in your project. Remember, always read the guidelines for any grants you apply for.
Search beyond traditional sources. Preservation Fund grants are a great place to start. But there are also many other places to look -- private-sector philanthropies, corporations, corporate foundations, to name a few. Speak to bank trust officers about any local or individual trusts, bequests, and foundations that might embrace the goals of the preservation project. Get creative -- reach out on social media, host a special fundraising event, think outside the box.
Look at national funding resources. Grants.gov offers a comprehensive list of federal grant opportunities. The National Park Service also administers a range of grants. Plus, check out The Getty, Tourism Cares, and the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation. Keep looking and you’re sure to find more.
Also research state funding resources. Talk to someone in your state historic preservation office (SHPO). Most states administer historic preservation grant or loan programs.
Don’t forget local funding resources. Reach out to your local historic preservation office. If your community is a Certified Local Government, it’s eligible to apply for grants that can help fund a variety of preservation projects. You can also look for community foundations in your state.
Explore emergency grants. If your historic site has been damaged in the last few weeks by an unexpected event such as a flood, fire, or high winds, it may also be eligible for a National Trust Emergency/Intervention Fund Grant. Funding can also be used to support advocacy campaigns in response to pending legislation or development pressures.
Never give up. Fundraising isn’t magic, nor is it an arcane science. Think about it more as a conversation with someone (whether it’s in person or on paper), not a transaction. It might not be easy or feel totally comfortable at first, but remember the most important part is simply asking.
Photos courtesy: Specious, Wikimedia; Susana Raab; NWABR, Flickr; Duanebates, Wikimedia; NPCA Photos, Flickr; Eli Pousson, Flickr; Specious, Wikimedia; EncMstr, Wikimedia; US Army Environmental Command, Flickr; Maralei Bunn, Wikimedia; Duanebates, Wikimedia; Slworking2, Flickr.