Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Civil War Preservation Trust

  • Washington, DC

Mission Statement

The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America's hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Through educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives, the Trust seeks to inform the public about the vital role these battlefields played in determining the course of our nation's history.

Main Programs

  1. Land Preservation
  2. Education
  3. Membership
Service Areas



We work to preserve land in the 25 states where significant Civil War battles occurred. In addition, visitors from across the country and world can visit these sites and learn about the American Civil War.

ruling year


Principal Officer since 1999


Mr. O. James Lighthizer



Civil War, battle, maps, bull run, fredericksburg, lesson plans

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Also Known As

Civil War Trust






Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Historical Societies and Related Activities (A80)

Education N.E.C. (B99)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

To date, the Civil War Trust has saved over 42,000 acres of battlefield land in 21 states. In 2014, each dollar we were able to raise from our members we were able to leverage by a factor of 5 to 1, meaning that we succeeded in multiplying every donor dollar by 5 additional dollars of grant funds—making us very effective. Charity Navigator also awarded the Trust with its highest 4-star rating for the fifth year in a row. The Trust has created 16 cutting edge smartphone battlefield apps (iPhone and Android) including Bull Run, Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Malvern Hill, and Gettysburg. These custom battlefield touring apps, with integrated maps and always-on GPS, ensure that visitors know exactly where they are on the battlefield. The Trust's web platform continues to grow, with 5.8 million unique visitors in 2014. The most popular sections of this content-rich site are our iconic battle maps and detailed battlefield pages. Combined with our quarterly award-winning magazine, Hallowed Ground, and our Facebook presence, the Trust's ability to communicate the importance of preservation efforts is far reaching. In 2014 three Teacher Institutes were held where teachers received training on the nine lesson plans in our new Civil War Curriculum. Approximately 25,000 students are reached each year as a result of these institutes. The ability of the Trust to successfully undertake its mission is due in part to our dedicated members.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Land Preservation

The Civil War Trust's main program is land preservation: our mission is to save endangered Civil War Battlefields from development by buying the land and protecting it through easements. Much of the land that the Civil War was fought on is endangered due to development pressures. We only purchase land at fair market value from landowners who are willing sellers; by purchasing the land outright we can ensure that it is preserved and will never be developed. We have already saved over 40,000 acres of battlefield land, and we aim to save many more acres before it is too late. We are currently finishing a Capital Campaign that coincided with the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. In 2014 the Civil War Trust made great strides in saving this land by preserving over 2,000. These tracts of land are part of great battlefields such as North Anna, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Bentonville.


Environment, General/Other

Population(s) Served



Program 2


In addition to saving hallowed ground, we also believe that there is a great need to educate the public about the importance of the Civil War. We are dedicated to interpreting the War and its significant battles, and do so for teachers, students, and the public through technological resources and innovative methods such as our state-of-the-art website and Battle Apps. The Civil War Trust is the premier organization working to educate the public about the Civil War and its battlefields. Major recent advances in the Trust's education programs include the release of the Civil War Curriculum, the expansion of the Teacher Institute series, and continuing work on interpretation and content for the Trust's new Battle Apps for smart phones. The Trust focuses its educational efforts on five major areas: battlefield interpretation, in classrooms, on the web, at events, and in print.


Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served


Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)



Program 3


The Civil War Trust is a membership-based organization. Each quarter, every member receives our 48-page magazine Hallowed Ground, as a free educational membership benefit. The magazine highlights how their direct support helps preserve endangered Civil War battlefield land, advances the cause of education about the key period in our nation's history, and educates them directly on historical elements of importance about the Civil War and land preservation. We depend on our members to raise the money we need to preserve the battlefield land.


Mutual, Membership Benefit, General/Other

Population(s) Served


Other Named Groups



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The Civil War Trust's mission is to preserve America's endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.
    Each year the Civil War Trust saves thousands of acres of hallowed ground where soldiers fought and died during the American Civil War. Once we save the land it will be preserved in perpetuity because we put easements on all property we save, and generally we turn the land over to a responsible long-term steward such as the National Park Service. We also work to protect battlefield land that is saved, but may be threatened by nearby development pressures such as a big box store or casino that would be detrimental to hallowed nature of the battlefield.

    In addition to preserving Civil War battlefield land, the Civil War Trust conducts programs designed to inform the public about the events and consequences of the Civil War, foster an understanding of the need for preservation, and create a personal connection to the past. The goal of our education program is to assist teachers across the country so they can make their lessons about the Civil War more engaging and informative for their students.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    To preserve Civil War battlefield land, the Civil War Trust works with willing landowners to purchase their property at fair market value. In order to determine what to buy and what preservation strategy best suits the project we first consult with the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report (“CWSAC"). The CWSAC Report was completed in 1993 by a 15-member Commission established by Congress to identify the most historically significant Civil War sites. Out of the nearly 10,000 battles and skirmishes of the war the report identified 384 principle battlefields worthy of preservation.

    Once the Civil War Trust determines whether a prospective property is listed as a CWSAC eligible site, we utilize our Geographic Information System (“GIS") computerized mapping capabilities to locate the potential property in relation to the historic landscape. If a property is within the recognized boundary of a CWSAC eligible battlefield we must next determine how best to preserve the property. Generally, the Trust either purchases a permanent conservation easement or purchases the property outright in order to preserve the integrity of the land.

    The Civil War Trust has been one of the most successful non-profit organizations in America in securing federal, state, local and private matching funds to save battlefields. We then multiply those funds with money raised from our members around the world to raise the money needed to preserve these historic parcels of land.

    Our education department reaches out to teachers, students, and the public by creating first-rate content on our website, interpretive signage, classroom resources, and on a suite of exciting technological educational tools.

    When we need to stand up to developers and other pressures that would negatively affect battlefields, we work closely with lawmakers and the local community through grassroots efforts to ensure nothing is done to damage the hallowed nature of the battlefield.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Since 1987 the Civil War Trust and its predecessor organizations have saved over 42,000 acres of significant battlefield land. This makes the Civil War Trust the most effective and successful land heritage preservation organization in the country. We have successfully pulled together federal and state funds, as well as significant donations from our membership base of 53,000 members. This membership base is so generous that they provide the support we need to successfully save the land we have identified as significant that has come on the market.

    Our education program has the capacity to create numerous new educational resources that teachers, students, and the public can access from our website. We have expanded this suite of offerings in the last few years, and have created new resources such as our Battle Apps, Animated Maps, and Battlefield 360 offerings. We work with the best historians and Civil War experts to have excellent material in these resources.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    We are easily able to track our progress by how many acres of battlefield land we save. While the amount of acreage can be important, small parcels can be some of the most significant. We not only judge success by the number of acres saved, but also by what happened on those acres.

    To judge the progress of our education department, we can count how many teachers and students we reach in a certain year. We know how many teachers come to our teacher institutes, how many students those teachers teach, how many teachers receive our free curriculum, how many classrooms our travelling trunk visits, how many people visit our website and view various educational resources, and how many people attend our Generations events.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    The Civil War Trust has saved over 42,000 acres of Civil War battlefield land. This number will continue to grow each year as we preserve more acres using our preservation methods. There are still many parcels of privately owned land that we would like to eventually save, and we will work to save them once they become available.

    In 2016 the Civil War Trust received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for the seventh year in a row. The Trust is also accredited by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

    Our education has developed 27 lesson plans for teachers to download for free from our website and teach in their classrooms. There are three levels of the curriculum- for elementary school, middle school, and high school. We send four “travelling" trunks that are filled with reproduction Civil War artifacts, books, music and other items to classrooms across the country so that the children can have a hands-on learning experience. Last school year the trunks went to 30 states, 85 classrooms, and reached nearly 10,000 students.

    Each year teachers gather at our Teacher Institutes where they take tours and attend sessions to provide them with information and resources that they can take back to the classroom and use in their lessons.

    Our website- is one of the premier sources of Civil War educational resources. We have a number of battlefield hubs for various battlefields. Each battlefield hub includes items such as battle maps, history articles, historian videos, photo galleries, interactive quizzes, recommended books, travel suggestions, and key facts. Our website includes animated maps so that viewers can better understand the order of the battles. Another new feature on our website is our Battlefield 360 feature. With this feature viewers can feel like they are actually on the battlefield- they can look 360 degrees around them from various points on the battlefield and learn from facts, photos, and videos that pop up.

    We have created a series of 14 Battle Apps for smart phones that are virtual battlefield guides that anyone can download for free. Each App has a wealth of information including troop positions, battle facts, the order of battle, pictures and video, and all are GPS enabled so users can see exactly where they are on the battlefield.

    To help visitors learn from preserved battlefields, the Civil War Trust produces interpretative wayside signs, brochures, driving tours and animated maps. We have recently created interpretive signage and trails at Spring Hill battlefield in Tennessee, and Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Third Winchester battlefields in Virginia.
Service Areas



We work to preserve land in the 25 states where significant Civil War battles occurred. In addition, visitors from across the country and world can visit these sites and learn about the American Civil War.

Social Media

Funding Needs

The needs of the Civil War Trust are: Ø Financial support for battlefield land acquisition at sites deemed significant by the Congressionally-appointed Civil War Sites Advisory Commission by: * Cash gifts or charitable gifts of stocks, bonds or mutual funds * Becoming a member of the Trust * Legacy gifts * Workplace giving: Corporate Matching gifts or state/federal workplace campaign participation * Contributing to the Trust's $50 million Capital Campaign to commemorate the sesquicentennial by raising funds to preserve as much threatened land as possible by 2015 Ø Underwriting of the national and regional Teacher Institutes Ø Contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives, urging them to support battlefield preservation Ø Sponsoring battlefield interpretation efforts with signs, brochures, driving tours, and maps Ø Volunteering at Park Day, our annual effort to clean up park sites



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Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.


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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Civil War Preservation Trust



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Principal Officer

Mr. O. James Lighthizer


President of The Trust since 1999, Jim is a native of Ohio and has lived in Maryland all his adult life. Early in his career he was employed by IBM Corporation, but after graduation from Georgetown University Law Center, he practiced law in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. In 1978, he was elected to the Maryland legislature and in 1982 and 1986 to Anne Arundel County Executive. In 1991, he was appointed by Governor William Donald Schaefer to be the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, where he pioneered the use if ISTEA funds for battlefield preservation. Jim left government service in 1995 and re-entered the practice of law, as a partner with Miles and Stockbridge, a major Baltimore law firm. In 1999 Jim Lighthizer became President of the Civil War Trust, and has overseen the organization as it has saved thousands of acres of Civil War battlefield land.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The Civil War Trust continues to build on our reputation as the premiere heritage land preservation organization in the country. There is no other entity — including the federal government in the form of the National Park Service — that is saving more hallowed ground than the Trust. What was even more remarkable is that we accomplished much success in the worst economy in living memory. While other similarly situated organizations are scaling back and laying off staff, we took a reasonable and responsible course of action to re-evaluate every expense, every expenditure and every project in light of the economy. This allowed us to press onward with our mission and achieve a level of success that surpassed all expectations. As we rapidly approach the war's sesquicentennial, we are committed to remaining the organization that is an effective and efficient steward of your donation dollar, consistently scoring well on all the national charitable rating services. As I look toward the future, I remain optimistic. We have a talented staff and the support of a strong, generous and involved Board. We have an enthusiastic and active membership that, along with our Board, help the organization continue to mature and progress. We continue to embrace new advances in technology to connect with donors and students of history. Finally, we have committed significant resources into continuing to cultivate the active participation of federal, state and local governments in the battlefield preservation process. With all of these essentials in place, I am confident that the Trust will remain the premier heritage land preservation organization in America for many years to come. James Lighthizer, President"



Mr. Kirk Bradley


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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?