Say “AMEN” if you are praying to secure grants for faith-based organizations in the upcoming year!
Whether you are an established faith-based nonprofit or you are a program operating under a church fiscal sponsor…today’s blog discussing grants for faith-based organizations is for you.
First and foremost, let me share the good news…
No matter what your mission is, there is a donor somewhere in this world who is just as passionate about your cause as you are. Someone wants to fund grants for faith-based organizations. You just need to figure out who it is!
If you don’t believe me, visit a local library that has “Foundation Center” software and type in keywords into the search bar and matches will magically appear!
That being said…your time is valuable, and you don’t want to waste time chasing down donors who are not interested in or willing to support your mission.
That brings us to the magic question…
How do I know which grants are worth pursuing and which ones I should leave alone?
Determining which grants for faith-based organizations are a good match for your nonprofit is important. You need to follow best practices for grant research and initiate strategic conversations with prospective donors. Follow these 3 key steps in the process:
1. Clearly define your need/project.
It is imperative to identify as many keywords that describe your project as possible! These keywords allow you to filter your grant research. Filters include the scope of work, the target audience, the total project budget, and even the potential impact. Your grant research process requires you to think outside of the box. If your organization is seeking funds for salaries or website updates, search for donors that support “capacity building initiatives” or “marketing.”
Example Scenario: You provide after-school programs for K-5th graders, so filter your search using keywords such as:
- elementary education
- enrichment programs
- life skills
- college readiness
- literacy programming
- programs for at-risk/high-risk youth
2. Identify foundations whose funding priorities align with your proposed project.
There are several ways to create a Grant prospect list. You can identify foundations using various grant search software. Or, you can follow leads from press releases about philanthropy in your field/community. Another research option is to check the 990’s of organizations that share a similar mission. This allows you to see who is funding similar organizations.
3. Complete due diligence.
Before you begin filling out a grant proposal, take the time to read EVERY SINGLE WORD in the donor guidelines! Make sure the answer to each of the following questions is “YES.”
- Will the donor’s funding priority align with my project/mission?
- Does the donor fund projects in my geographic location? (Some donors fund nationally, others at a state level, and others limit giving to very specific counties or cities.)
- Has the donor funded projects that serve my organization’s target population?
- Does my organization meet all the “eligibility requirements” listed in the grant guidelines?
- Is the funding cycle aligned with my proposed project timeline?
- Does this funder support faith-based organizations and/or projects?
That final question is especially crucial for nonprofits who have a faith-centered mission or who are operating under a faith-based fiscal sponsor.
It is important to note that some donors refuse to fund faith-based organizations period. Others will fund faith-based organization if the proposed project does not promote a specific religion/theology or discriminate against non-believers.
For example, the Wells Fargo Foundation’s charitable giving guidelines are specific. They do not fund “religious organizations, unless they are engaged in programs that are non-sectarian, benefit a broad base of the community, and have a separate 501(c)(3) designation.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are many foundations that are committed to ONLY funding faith-based organizations! You can increase the likelihood of finding faith-centered donors during your grant research sessions by using religious terms in your filters such as:
Most private foundations are established to support causes that align with their core values, personal faith, and social priorities. If a foundation was created by a religious person, it makes sense that they are more willing to fund religious organizations.
For example, the “The CORR Action Fund (CAF) grant program is established by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church for the empowerment of diversity, inclusion and racial justice work within and outside the Church.”
Many grants are specific to denominations and might require that the proposal be submitted through a church. It is always wise to connect with churches in your community that already support your organization to see if they might like to partner on a grant like the one listed above!
As always, be sure to speak with a program officer for every foundation you intend to approach for funding PRIOR to beginning the application process. Verify that your organization is indeed a good match.
We appreciate how hard each of you works to create lasting impact in the community. To that end we took the time to compile a free list of five national foundations that support faith-based nonprofits like yours! We will be sharing 20 more on the upcoming webinar and even more to those in our upcoming Faith Works cohort!