The New Jersey Cultural Trust was created in July 2000 as a public/private partnership to help ensure a stable and healthy nonprofit cultural industry in New Jersey that is sustainable even in the toughest of economic times.
The Trust provides grants to support capital projects, endowments and institutional and financial stabilization of arts, history and humanities organizations in New Jersey. Funding for the grants comes from interest earned on the Cultural Trust Fund, which is a permanent investment fund.
With the FY 2023 grant awards, the Cultural Trust has distributed over $9.5 million to qualified organizations throughout the State for financial stabilization and historic preservation projects. (See a listing of grant recipients under “Grant Opportunities” in this website.) The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the New Jersey Historic Trust develop programs that recommend projects for such grants to the Cultural Trust. Please see the “Grants Awarded” section of the website for a complete listing of recipients and funded projects.
In order to participate in the programs of the Trust and be eligible to apply for grants, organizations must be “qualified.” At this exciting time in the development of the Trust, we encourage all nonprofit arts, history and humanities organizations throughout the State to seek qualification. See the “Grant Opportunities” section for qualification and sample grant guidelines and applications.
A copy of the qualified list can be found under the Grant Opportunites Section
The Cultural Trust is many things, including:
New Jersey has an extraordinary cultural landscape. Orchestras, theaters, artists, scholars, historical landmarks and museums and so much more enhance our quality of life, revitalize our cities, enrich our children's education, boost tourism, celebrate our achievements, commemorate our lives and make us proud.
Talented people and successful companies gravitate to places where culture thrives. And, as study after study has shown, the nonprofit arts and history organizations contribute over $1.5 billion annually to our economic activity and to our economic health. The arts and humanities are part of what makes New Jersey great.
These important nonprofit organizations, as well serving and well run as they are, are also severely undercapitalized. They are particularly vulnerable to economic fluctuations. In a previous economic downturn when the arts and history communities lost precious state funding, too many were forced to close their doors and valuable cultural resources in our State were lost forever. Research revealed the need for more than $1 billion in new and focused funding to ensure that our cultural organizations can both fight off bad economies and realize their full potential.
Since the mid-1990's, people in New Jersey have been talking seriously about how to establish an additional source of funding to help stabilize the arts, history and humanities. One way to do this, they agreed, was through a permanent endowment that would grow and provide income year after year, but for specific new purposes.
In the year 2000, the State created a unique and innovative way to ensure that New Jersey's rich cultural heritage thrives well into the future.
Without a single dissenting vote in either legislative house The New Jersey Cultural Trust was created as a State agency governed by a 15 member board to receive and invest funds and protect and nurture the State's cultural legacy for generations to come.
The New Jersey Cultural Trust Fund is a permanent investment fund whose earnings will be given in grants to support three specific purposes:
Yes, with the FY 2023 grant awards, the Cultural Trust has distributed over $9.5 million to qualified organizations throughout the State for financial stabilization and historic preservation projects. (See a listing of grant recipients under "Grants Awarded" in this website.)
Organizations must first be designated "qualified" in order to be eligible to participate in the programs of the Trust.
Any private, nonprofit, tax-exempt, arts, humanities, or history organization that is incorporated in New Jersey and has been operating for at least 4 years, and has appropriate financial records is eligible to be designated a "qualified" organization. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are presented to the Cultural Trust Board for its consideration at the next available opportunity, several times each year. Forms may be obtained from the office by calling 609-633-0522 or from this website - see “Grant Opportunities” Section.
As called for in the Cultural Trust Act, grants are made based on the recommendations from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey Historic Trust.
The recommending agencies establish criteria and guidelines for the grants programs, manage the process and make recommendations annually to the Cultural Trust. Sample applications are available on this website - see programs Section.
Qualified organizations will be notified when new grant programs are announced.
The Cultural Trust is a public-private initiative that seeks over ten years to develop through equal contributions from state and outside sources at least $200,000,000 that can be invested either in the Fund or the endowments of qualified organizations
Donors are able to give in one of two ways. They can either give directly to the Trust Fund, or they can give to a particular qualified group or groups for endowment purposes. Each private sector contribution will trigger the State funds, subject to available appropriation, into the Fund.
As an example, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation made a lead gift of $1 million to the Fund the very day the legislation was signed into law and that was matched by the State with $1 million transferred into the Fund. The Cultural Trust Fund started that day with $2 million.
Yes, to encourage large gift donations to endowments of qualified groups, when a qualified organization receives and certifies a single endowment gift of over $100,000, the gift is matched, subject to available appropriation, with State dollars into the Fund. Twenty percent of the State's match then goes to that organization. The other eighty percent is kept in the Cultural Trust Fund. This is a powerful way for cultural groups to encourage the private sector to make larger gifts.
In order to certify a donation, an organization must first be designated “qualified.”
A donation that is money, property, or other object(s) with monetary value given directly to a qualified organization that is expressly dedicated for endowment may be certified.
Only donations received since January 1, 2000 are eligible for certification.
An application to certify donations must be completed, signed by the appropriate officials of the organization and submitted with required documentation on or before the deadline, as established and announced by the Cultural Trust.
The Cultural Trust then certifies the donation to the State Treasurer who transfers any available State appropriations into the Cultural Trust Fund. At that time, any 20% large donation matches (or available portions thereof) are distributed by the Cultural Trust to the eligible organization.
Once certified by the Cultural Trust, future annual audits of the organization must identify in audit notes that the amount certified as well as any large gift matching funds received from the Cultural Trust are held in the permanently restricted endowment(s).
All qualified arts, history, and humanities organizations are strongly encouraged to plan to have their endowment donations, no matter how large or small, certified. They all help build the Trust Fund and speed us to our goal of stable cultural organizations able to do their best.
As of September 2003, the certification process is on hold pending the ability of the State to provide matching funds for previously certified donations. However, when the process is resumed, notification of deadlines and application guidelines and criteria will be broadly distributed and may be obtained from the Cultural Trust through this website.
As of October 2022, the principal in the Fund itself has reached nearly $25 million and has earned over $4 million in interest. Certified donations to endowments of qualified organizations plus 20% large gift matching dollars from the Fund exceed $46 million.
The Cultural Trust Act called on the State of New Jersey annually to appropriate $10 million for ten years for a total of $100 million to be leveraged into the Fund when private donations directly to the Fund, or to the endowments of qualified organizations, are certified. Had the State been able to meet that commitment, it would have contributed $90 million through FY14.
However, to date, the State has contributed $30,582,000 toward the purposes of the Trust with the following annual appropriations.
|FY23 - $720,000||FY22 - $720,000||FY21 - $621,000||FY20 - $500,000||FY19 - $500,000||FY18 - $500,000|
|FY17 - $500,000||FY16 - $500,000||FY15 - $500,000||FY14 - $500,000||FY13 - $500,000||FY12 - $500,000|
|FY11 - $500,000||FY10 - $500,000||FY09 - $621,000||FY08 - $500,000||FY07 - $720,000||FY06 - $500,000|
|FY05 - $621,000||FY04 - $500,000||FY03 - $10,000,00||FY02 - $10,000,000||FY01 - $3,020,000|
The New Jersey Cultural Trust, a national model, does much to ensure that the State preserves and nourishes New Jersey's invaluable cultural resources well into the future.
NJ based nonprofit arts, history or humanities organizations.
Apply to be qualified. It makes you eligible to participate fully, including applying for grants.
Qualified organizations with an endowment or building one.
Seek to have every contribution certified. They build the Cultural Trust Fund faster, bolster interest earnings and increase the grants making impact.
Individuals, Corporations, Businesses, Foundations, Municipal and County Governments who care about the health and vitality of NJ and the future of its cultural community.
Support the Cultural Trust and its goals. Gifts given directly to the Cultural Trust Fund leverage a 100% State match to grow the Trust Fund. Gifts directed to the endowments of qualified organizations also leverage an equal State match into the Trust Fund, and when that gift is $100,000 or more, the recipient receives an additional 20% from the State match.
Board members of nonprofit cultural organizations.
Encourage your organizations to become qualified and your donors to contribute to their endowments, thereby leveraging matching dollars directly into the Trust Fund. Strategize now about how to stabilize fully your organizations and pursue appropriate future opportunities for Cultural Trust support.
Page Last Updated: 05/24/22