Grants for Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues
Churches used to receive most of their funds from their church members and philanthropists. However, today more and more churches are relying on grant funds to supplement their incomes and programs. Grants create a larger opportunity for a church to continue their work in the community. Church grants come from federal, state, county, private corporations and foundations. Awards are based upon program goals, objectives and community outreach needs with emphasis on benefits that focus on the entire community and not the congregation. Church grants and government faith based grants can help an organization find funding to develop community outreach programs, a family center or expand their church or for seed money to start a new church.
There are a limited number of funders that give grants for churches, and there is a lot of competition. To increase your chances of getting funds, you should implement non-religious community programs such as helping youth, after school education, family centers, single-mother programs, financial management, job training, senior day programs, literacy programs and food pantries. Private and foundation grants are also given for building renovations, general operating expenses, program developments, scholarships, and religious education. Keep in mind that if you are seeking federal grant funds, you cannot use the funds for religious activities such as worship and religious schools. You should be realistic about your programs to help your church qualify for funds. It is recommended that you build relationships with funders as well. You may also want to get the input of your church congregation on the types of programs that they want to see your church involved with because many of them may be carrying out the outreach programs in your community.
The Internet, church members and other organizations in the area are good sources to find funders. Funders post their grant opportunities and funding guidelines on their websites as well as other philanthropic websites. You should make sure that the funder’s guidelines match your programs and your mission. Many times funders will list examples of types of projects and programs they are interested in funding and provide a list of past grant seekers they have funded so you can get an idea how your church programs compare to those already funded. Funders want to make sure that you understand your target area and your program narrative and budget meet those needs. Always write a concise proposal letting the funder know your organization’s mission and how you intend to use the funds. Keep in mind that future funding is based upon past performances.
When you complete a proposal request or application for funding, the funder will generally request supporting documentations. Typically, you need to provide them with the following documents:
- Your IRS501(c)(3) letter of tax exemption determination
- Your annual report and operating budget
- List of your Board of Directors and Trustees and their contact information, qualifications and affiliations
- Most recent Form 990 and financial statement
- List of all donors that support your organization including names, addresses, amounts donated and dates
- A list of your personnel, staff positions, work duties, qualifications, number of hours worked per week and annual salaries
- Brochures about your organization and programs
- Letters of support from community leaders and politicians
It is also a good idea for churches to continue their fundraising events because there is no guaranteed that any grant you apply for will be awarded. It is getting more difficult to obtain funding in these hard economic times. Always ask for the full grant amount because you may receive a lesser award. The more grants you apply for the better chance you have of obtaining funding.