External Appeals

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) can provide assistance to some property owners to undertake the conservation and restoration of their heritage place by establishing a National Trust External Appeal.  

The purpose of an External Appeal is to assist owners of heritage places or objects to raise funds for repairs and conservation essential to the preservation of the significant place or object.  

Due to the National Trust’s Not-For-Profit Tax deductible status, the Australian Tax Office permits the Trust to extend this tax-deductibility to heritage-related appeals operated by other organisations.  

Generally, the external places should be owned or managed by the community, a Committee of Management or a not-for profit organisation.  Such places should provide a community or public benefit either by access or visibility.  Donations to an External Appeal must come from third parties (i.e. the public) and not the owner of the place or object.   

The External Appeals program often provides funding revenue for conservation works to places where other streams of funding might not otherwise be available, such as heritage places of significance that are not on the State Heritage Register. The program can also work alongside other grants programs, which can work together to realise a project that cannot be fully supported by an often-limited grant amount or that funds a different component of work (not the conservation work).  

Over the years this program has facilitated the completion of many successful conservation projects benefiting Victoria’s important heritage places. Major External Appeals were launched in the 1970s for landmarks such as St Patrick’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, St John’s Toorak, and Scots Church. However, more recently, many non-religious places and objects have also benefited from Trust External Appeals, such as the Skipping Girl Vinegar Sign in Abbotsford, the Robbie Burns Statue in Camperdown, and the 1858 Portland Lifeboat.  

For further information about this program, eligibility criteria and to begin the application process, please contact the Heritage Services Co-ordinator at (03) 9656 9818 or conservation@nattrust.com.au  

External Appeals Application Form


Eligibility Criteria

Types of Works:  

External Appeals are for the conservation of heritage fabric only. Conservation covers all the processes of maintenance, repair and restoration as defined in the ICOMOS Australia Burra Charter. Works that are considered protective or that would positively contribute to the long term preservation of the structure may also be eligible. Examples of protective and long term preservation works eligible include:  

  • Pipe Organ servicing and maintenance  
  • Improved drainage to prevent damp problems  
  • Replacement of old and dangerous electrical services  
  • Installation of fire prevention services such as alarms, sprinkler  


The funds must be directed to physical conservation and restoration works or documentation/expert advice reports/contract administration relating to conservation and restoration works.   


Specific exclusions are:  

  • payment of building and contents insurance   
  • new construction  
  • general overheads  
  • purchase of equipment  
  • the work of in-house staff  
  • the purchase of places or objects.  


An External Appeal can cover a broad scope of work proposed in the short term as well as ongoing and futures maintenance and conservation projects.  


Recognised heritage significance:  

  • Eligible places or objects must be listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, be included in a municipal Heritage Overlay, or be classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).  



Places and object which are eligible include: 

  • Places or objects owned by community or not-for profit incorporated bodies. This can include bodies with exclusive membership such as private clubs, sporting or arts groups and the like, as well as religious organisations  
  • Places under the responsibility of not-for-profit community bodies acting as a Committee of Management under the Crown Lands Reserves Act.  
  • Places owned by a local municipality but leased by / managed by not-for-profit community bodies.  
  • Objects in public places such as statues, memorials and fountains owned or managed by a local municipality.  
  • Objects that are privately owned and publicly viewable/accessible but the restoration of which would not provide a direct financial benefit to the owner.  


Places and objects which are not eligible include:  

  • Places owned by an individual or private company, family trust or the like that have no public accessibility/benefit.  
  • Places operating on a commercial or for-profit basis.  
  • Places or objects owned by State government departments, agencies or statutory authorities (this therefore includes objects held in major public institutions).  


Owners Consent:  

Applications without the organisation’s consent will not be considered.  


Visibility and Accessibility:  

Eligible heritage places and objects must be accessible or viewable by the public. Where an interior is considered significant and part of the project, or an object is held inside, it should also still have some form of accessibility by the general public. This may take the form of an annual open day.  


For further information about this program, eligibility criteria and to begin the application process, please contact the Heritage Services Co-ordinator at (03) 9656 9818 or conservation@nattrust.com.au  

Application Requirements

Certain information must be provided in order for an External Appeal request to be considered. All details of the restoration works, including methodology, materials, expertise, etc. must be approved by the Trust in order to ensure that the works are of the highest conservation standards.  


The Organisation shall submit in writing to the Trust the following information:  

  • evidence of the heritage listing of the place  
  • documentation confirming that the ownership and management of the place satisfies the Eligibility Criteria  
  • details of proposed restoration works, with photos, plans, specifications and estimated timelines  
  • an estimate of total cost and the proposed appeal target  
  • details of any other proposed works whatsoever affecting any part of the site, buildings or structures   
  • copies of any current building, planning or Heritage Council permits  
  • name of the conservation architect.
Case Study Examples

Donkey Wheel House, Bourke St, Melbourne  

Formerly the Tramway and Omnibus Company building, and constructed in 1891, Donkey Wheel House is significant as a reminder of the origins of Melbourne’s tram system and for its rare Venetian Gothic inspired buildings. The Donkey Wheel Trust is a charitable organisation that supports a community of change makers to develop new ideas to shape a better society. An External Appeal was established in 2011 to raise funds for restoration of the building to house the Donkey Wheel Trust and other change-making organisations. The appeal raised $800,000 and along with other grant funding enabled restoration of the façade, roof and interior spaces, completed in 2019 by building owners Ethical Property Australia.   


Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, St Kilda  

A successful External Appeal funded the exterior and interior restoration of the impressive copper clad dome of the Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in St Kilda. This appeal established in 2014 raised $500,000, with the targeted conservation works completed in 2016.  


Holy Trinity Church in Kew  

The initial External Appeal established for this 1862 church raised in the order of $500,000 to undertake essential conservation works to the significant stained glass windows and repairs to the stone tower, however the appeal is still running with smaller amounts of funding coming in each year, which pay for ongoing maintenance of the windows and other essential conservation works to the building.   


Alma Doepel  

An initial fundraising campaign in 2012-2013 was undertaken for the Alma Doepel sailing ship, to fund the raising and restoration of the ship. This initial campaign raised in the order of $1,500,000, and donations still continue to be received, which are put towards the continuing restoration and upkeep of the significant materials and features of the ship.  


Christ Church, Warrnambool  

The initial External Appeal established for Christ Church, Warrnambool in 2005 was to raise funds for the restoration of significant stained glass windows. This project was successfully completed using funding in the order of $80,000 from the External Appeal. Following this, the External Appeal scope was extended to raise funds for roof and tower restoration works, which have also been completed. The External Appeal for Christ Church, Warrnambool continues today to progressively fund a prioritised schedule of conservation works.  


Related content