For the majority of churches across the United States, they are very dependent upon their congregation’s donations and tithes. Their programming, operational, and staff expenses are reliant upon the generosity of their community members. Being dependent upon personal donations may make it very difficult for religious organizations to expand their outreach efforts and hire qualified representatives that will spread their mission.
In fact, when the economy is going through a low period and individuals are concerned about their personal expenses, they often lower their charitable giving to nonprofit organizations. This makes it difficult for churches to continue to operate, let alone improve their community outreach.
Research Other Sources of Income
It is imperative for churches and religious organizations to research other sources of income for their organizations. For some religious organizations, grants may be a potential source of revenue that will allow them to operate in an efficient and comprehensive manner. However, there are many areas of the grant application process that applicants should be aware of prior to submission. While the overall grant and the components that grant funders are looking to be included, will remain the same no matter what type of organization you offer, it is important to know that there are some differences for faith based and secular organizations.
Benefiting the Entire Community
One area of the grant application process that churches should be aware of is the fact that many funders will only support religious organizations that benefit the entire community. This means that they will not support organizations that only offer their services to their congregation members or community members that may belong to a different denomination or region.
If the applicants’ website, marketing materials, or creed limits their offerings to a particular group of individuals, they will be excluded from consideration for the grant. While many grant funders are not opposed to religious organizations, they do not want to exclude individuals that may not be committed to a specific church or denomination. In addition, there are funders that are specifically looking to support only religious organizations. It is important to do research and review the funder’s guidelines and websites prior to submission.
Don’t Limit Activities
Many religious organizations and churches that receive support from grant funders do not limit their activities to worship services. They offer outreach services that address the needs of the less fortunate and needy. If you are going to apply for grants, you will want to consider expanding your current activities. This may include facilitating clothing drives, after school youth mentoring programs, or feeding the homeless. Within your grant application, if you can highlight your outreach activities and demonstrate the need that you are meeting, you will have a greater chance for success.
Provide Outreach Services
The majority of grant funders want to fund organizations that are fulfilling a specific need within in the organization. And while worship services definitely fill a needed void amongst communities across America, offering outreach services will provide an opportunity for your organization to tangibly measure how your organization has made an impact within the community.
With engaging comprehensive outreach services, you can provide the funders with statistics on the improvement you have made within in your community. For example, if your religious organization offers a food pantry for low income residents, you can detail the percentage of community individuals that no longer go without nutritious meals. If you offer mentoring services for youth, your proposal can detail how the students in your program have improved their grades since enrollment. All funders are more likely to donate to organizations if they believe that the applicant has a history of success and their objectives can be measured.
Another way for churches and religious organizations to highlight how they are serving their entire community would be to detail their counseling and mental health services. Most pastors are available to offer marriage sessions, as well as individual counseling, spiritual guidance, and substance abuse counseling. If your organization provides these services to individuals within your community (even if they do not regularly attend your worship services), this will highlight how your organization reaches all interested individuals and does not limit your services to a specific group of individuals.
Some religious organizations and churches will write their proposal and seek support for their outreach services only. If you choose to go this route, you will still highlight your worship services and religious activities within the introduction section of the proposal. Then in the methodology and objectives section, you will primarily focus on your outreach activities.
For example, if you are seeking funding for your church’s daycare center and your worship services already have the essential funding needed, then your need section will want to focus on statistics relating to children development and how religious influence may positively impact their growth. The methodology section will detail how your daycare center will operate and how funding would impact this specific program. The following sections would also need to focus on your youth based programs.
If you are applying for a grant for your outreach programs, and not your worship services, you will need to prepare two separate budgets to go along with your application. You will want to supply the funder with an overall budget with line items for all of your programs. You will also want to prepare a budget for the specific outreach programs that you are seeking funding for. This will allow the donor to see how you will be spending the financial support on the programs that you have described in the methodology section. It will also allow the funder to see what your overall budget is and how much of your overall income goes to your outreach programs. This is important to the funder for religious organizations so they can see what percentage of your time and budget is allocated between your religious and outreach services.
If you are interested in moving forward with grant writing for you church or religious organization, please contact ChurchNet USA at 407-857-9002. We have experienced writers who are looking forward to helping your nonprofit grow.