The Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS) was developed as a part of the Heartland Forgiveness Project, a program of research to develop a model, definition, and measure of forgiveness (i.e., the HFS). From 1998 to 2002, the Heartland Forgiveness Project was supported by a grant from A Campaign for Forgiveness Research (Grant #5034). The funds for the grant were provided by the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, and other donors.

A Campaign for Forgiveness Research awarded numerous grants to spur the scientific study of forgiveness. Under the leadership of Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Ph.D., Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ruby Bridges Hall, and Robert Coles, M.D., the John Templeton Foundation and other donors eventually contributed over 7 million dollars to this campaign.