If you're interested in restoring an old barn in New York, there may be grant money available to assist you. You must be able to present your project as one that benefits the common good.
Grant vs. Loan
Unlike a loan, a grant is money that does not have to be repaid. A grant maker (also called a grantor) provides funds that align with its mission statement. A grantor can be a government department or agency, a foundation, a trust, a corporation or individuals.
Grant recipients, called grantees, are usually but not always nonprofit entities such as charities or educational institutions. Businesses and individuals can also receive grants.
Barn Repair Grants
Grant makers exist for the betterment of society. They want you to show how you will use grant money to benefit others, not just yourself. When seeking historical barn preservation grants, consider how many jobs will be provided in the process. Be able to explain how the restored barn will provide benefits to an organization, such as a local historical society and the community at large.
National Barn Alliance and National Park Service
The National Barn Alliance — the lesser known NBA — is dedicated to the preservation of historic barns. While the NBA does not make barn repair grants, it provides information about organizations that may be able to help, including local barn preservation groups and state historic preservation offices.
The Technical Preservation Services division of the U.S. National Park Service provides technical assistance and guidance on the restoration of historically significant properties. Not all barn restoration projects will qualify.
The National Park Service hosts webinars and online training and offers a variety of publications to help you understand what's required for restoration of a historic property and whether your property will qualify.
The Foundation Directory Online
Visit your local public library to access a subscription database called Foundation Directory Online. If your library branch does not have a subscription, it's likely you'll get a referral to another library in the local or regional system where you can access the database at no charge. Purchasing a database subscription yourself will cost $49.99 a month plus tax.
The Foundation Directory Online provides current information on more than 150,000 grant makers. The advantage to using the online directory compared to the print volumes that were once in use is that you can sort through current information with the parameters you choose.
If using the database in a library, enlist the aid of a reference librarian, who can suggest the best search terms and show you how to navigate the database.
Find the Right Grant Maker
Find grant makers whose mission aligns with yours. A grant maker who funds health care screenings for the poor or one that only gives grants for projects in Washington state will not give historical barn preservation grants for projects based in New York, no matter how well the grant application is written.
Look for grantors who specifically state that they fund barn repair grants and give historic barn preservation grants for properties in locations that include New York.
Follow the Instructions
Writing a grant application isn't hard if you follow the instructions. Applications are typically completed by filling out online forms. You may want to compose your answers in a word processing program and then copy and paste into the application. Note when the grant application is due and allow yourself plenty of time to complete and submit it.
Consider Tax Credits
If you're unable to secure a grant or you're looking for money in addition to any grant you receive, look into federal and state tax credits. The IRS allows a 20% nonrefundable tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses. At the state level, availability and credit amounts will vary.
A nonrefundable credit reduces your overall tax liability but does not give you any money back. Therefore, a tax-exempt entity, such as a religious organization, could not take advantage of nonrefundable credits since no taxes are due.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.