Your church has started a ministry that meets needs and creates opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The ministry’s future is bright and is positioned to grow. The challenge standing in the way is how to fund its future.
It is one of many ministries within your church that deserves financial backing but the church’s giving will not support everything. What is a church to do? Are there funding options outside the church membership?
Did you know that there are people who have been blessed financially and feel called to give toward kingdom-building causes? There may be a foundation or endowment that gives grants to support worthy ministries like yours. How do you find a potential grant-funder?
Do the research. More than 100,000 U.S. foundations give to faith-based causes. It takes a lot of time up front to identify them. Locating one can start at websites such as ChristianFoundationGrants.com and GrantStation.com. A larger public library system may have access to Foundation Directory Online.
To decide if a foundation is a good fit, look through its giving history. National chains like Walmart and Target give grants to community-based projects. Once you’ve identified a potential grant-maker, contact administrators to see if your ministry fits their giving priorities. This is usually accomplished through a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or conversation with the foundation.
After confirmation that your ministry and the grant-maker’s giving priority are aligned, you can begin the request process.
Tell your story. Capture the grant-makers attention by telling your ministry’s story. Good, accurate and truthful storytelling is a must. It will strengthen your story to have statistics, data and testimonies to show the need for or the success of your ministry. Create a story that motivates funders to join in making ministry happen.
State the need. Why are you applying for their financial support? What needs are you trying to meet? What are the ministry challenges you are addressing? Why do you need the foundation’s help? The main goal here is to show the need and that your ministry is the one to address it.
Pay attention to details. Success is in the details. Make sure someone on the grant-requesting team is detail-oriented. These are people who pay attention to every “jot and tittle” the foundation requests in the grant-making process, inspect the writing and grammar in the LOI and proposal, and pay attention to the little things like sufficient postage.
Important information for this step is creating a timeline, budget and accountability. The timeline tells the funder when ministry happens. Is it a one-time-of-year event or an ongoing venture?
A ministry budget helps the grant-maker understand how, when and where you will use the grant. This includes expenses for personnel, supplies, travel, expertise you use outside your church and anything else required to provide ministry.
Be accountable. The grant-maker’s final question in granting or denying your request is: “Is this a worthy and reputable cause to support and strengthen God’s kingdom?” Have plans and organizational processes in place that will win the grant-maker’s confidence that you are going to be a good steward of their gift.
Show your appreciation. When you hear back from the grant-maker that your request has been approved or denied, take time to send a note of appreciation. This sends a strong message to the grant-maker and sets the stage for open ears should you make another request. You may also want to ask for suggestions on how to make your proposal stronger.
Grant funding is an arduous process. Many ministries and nonprofits are looking for assistance. Be positive and develop a spirit of perseverance. Ask for God’s guidance, and remember that you are an important part of his ministry.
Nick Davis is the eastern regional vice president for the Missouri Baptist Foundation.