Many churches today are seeking church grants for a variety of purposes, including construction. According to Bernice Sanders Smoot of Saint Wall Street, there are over 600,000 churches and faith based organizations in the USA and my experience is that most of them are looking for money. With only a very few thousand faith-friendly grant foundations, well I guess you can do the math.
The bottom line is your ministry, in order to get funded by grants, must have three key ingredients and follow the golden rule if are to stand any chance for grant funding. In simple terms, the three key ingredients are: you need to have something worth writing about; you need to write about it well; and, you need to write to the right people.
Once you have these three key ingredients, you then need to follow the golden rule for grants: "He with the gold, rules." This means that you must follow the grant maker guidelines to the the letter, unless you want your proposal to end up in the trash can. Yes, I said the trash can. Over 80% of requests received by foundations are immediately rejected, largely due to not following the rules. and this is true regardless of how deserving of funding your ministry may be. You see, some faith-based foundations receive dozens or hundreds of requests per day. Grant makers don't have the time or the manpower to try to piece together your request - you follow their format and process or your request does not even get considered.
When applying for a church grant, you must be able to demonstrate the value proposition. You do this by quantifying what you have done, what the effects were, and how the money you are requesting will produce more results. Grant makers like to fund success, not just good ideas. This requires many ministries to take the time to measure and quantify their programs so they have something worth writing about. Once you have something that you can document as being worth funding, you then need to make the grant request. You need to submit according to each foundation's guidelines, and you need to write it well; get professional help if necessary. Who you submit to is also very important. Just because a foundation makes faith-friendly grants does not mean that they want to fund everything just because it is faith related. Many grant makers fund only specific types of programs, so you should to apply to those that fund the type of programs and ministries like yours.
If your church is looking for grants for ministry, stay tuned for Part II of this post which will share where to find the vast majority of the funding that goes to houses of faith and ministries. Hint: Its not from grant making foundations or the government. In Q1 of 2008 we also will be announcing where you can get a directory of over 1,000 foundations who openly accept proposals from Christian churches and agencies.
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