Churches Look to Grant Funding in Hard Times; How to get your share!
Today, more than ever, churches are seeking grant funding to supplement the diminishing income that they once received from parishioners and philanthropists. This strategy, if successful, does create an opportunity to diversify their current income-base and thereby withstand today’s economic crisis. However, churches must keep a few things in mind when considering applying for grant funding.
Foundations and government entities that award grant funding most likely do so with the intent to fund a program that benefits the broader community, not just the congregation. Does your church have an outreach program? For example, do you currently operate a food pantry, literacy program, or senior day services? If not, creating a community outreach program may be an excellent way of serving your community. Having programs like these will also make your organization more successful when submitting a grant proposal to a funding source. ChurchNetUSA offers programs to assist church organizations in the planning and implementing of community outreach programs, with a vast experience base of proven strategies if assistance in this task would be of help.
Now that you’ve chosen an outreach program, you can begin researching foundations that will possibly fund your program. Make use of your resources and search a variety of different locations in an effort to find potential funders. The internet, church members, and community contacts are excellent places to start compiling a list of funders interested in providing support to programs like yours. Make sure that the funding sources mission or area of interest matches with your organization’s mission statement. Foundations and government entities will state the types of projects that they want to fund and some may even provide examples of projects that they’ve funded in the past. Compare your program to the information that they provide; if your organization’s mission matches their mission, they may have strong potential as a possible funder.
After creating a list of potential funders you now need to begin contacting them to see if they are interested in funding your program. Each funding organization has a different method of preferred contact. Many request a letter of inquiry after submitting a letter of inquiry the organization will request a full proposal if you match their criteria. Other organizations ask that the full proposal is the first method of contact. After initial contact with the funding organization, continue following their procedures as they indicate. If your organization does not match with the funding organization’s mission continue to research other funders. Remember as always grant funding is a numbers game, so get your proposal to as many different organizations as possible in order to increase your chances of receiving possible funding. Submitting your proposal to only one or two organizations is not a successful strategy in seeking grant funding.
The last step in the grant funding process is to write a great proposal. If the funding organization provides an application form, remember to answer all of the questions in as much detail as possible. If the foundation requires a general proposal, remember to include all of the major components of a grant proposal, including a description of your target demographic, program narrative, and a budget. Funders want to see that you understand your target community and their needs. The proposal will demonstrate this knowledge and show how your organization will be of benefit to the community. Since you are a church this benefit to the community must be precise and clearly stated to ensure that you are indeed serving the entire community rather than simply your congregation.
There is an easier way, for those that want to increase their odds of success. ChurchNetUSA offers a unique long standing service which increases the odds of success in securing a grant in today’s competitive market. With their vast knowledge base they make sure your outreach program conforms to grant funders, develop a strategy, search among tens of thousands of grant providers to find the most likely matches and help in the preparation of the applications to each selected Foundation or government agency. Though this option involves some cost, the savings in time and increased rate of success due to years of experience in assisting in the Grant award process, is well worth it to many.
You may see an advantage in availing the services of ChurchNetUSA’s in this complicated and tedious process as well. With many years experience in the Proposal process, knowing just the right things to say can often be the difference between success and failure
In addition to grant funding, churches should continue to conduct fundraisers as an additional source of income. Grant funding is not guaranteed. For all nonprofit organizations establishing and maintaining a diverse source of incomes is essential in building a financially stable organization that is able to stand the test of time. Thousands of public entities apply for grant funding each year, making it extremely competitive. However, each day, organizations are awarded the money necessary to maintain their vital community services, with diligence, your church may be one of these successful organizations.