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Writing faith-based grants for Kentucky churches, Part I


Have you ever heard this statement? "Millions of dollars are available in grants for which no one applies." While this statement may be true, identifying the funding source is worth the time and effort for Kentucky faith-based organizations and churches.

Churches may not realize they can apply for foundation and corporation grants. Even some federal grants are available. The key is to provide programs that benefit the community -- not only your church.

According to a report, Kentucky has 447 foundations and a total giving of $196,801,458. Numerous corporations feel the responsibility to give back to the communities where they do business. These include sponsorship programs, in-kind donations, volunteer programs and matching gifts (www.data.foundationcenter.org).

The first part in this two-part series includes: finding local foundations and corporate support and understanding the areas of the application. The second part includes understanding key words of the application, tips for being funded and organizing a grant-writing committee from your church.

Finding local foundations and corporate support

Kentucky churches and faith-based organizations often overlook the best opportunity for funding — that is, monies available locally. As a grant writer and workshop leader for churches and other non-profits, I use these suggestions to receive funding.

1. Become highly visible in your community. Networking is vital.

2. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce for a listing of businesses and industries located in the same region as your church.

3. Identify the CEOs, community resource personnel, or plant managers as your contacts. Call or make an appointment to visit and discuss your grant needs.

4. Does the foundation provide a grant application? Can it be downloaded from the foundation’s website or requested by mail? If no application is available, ask if this simple grant format outlining these points will be acceptable?

(a) What you want to do.

(b) How you are going to do it.

(c) Who you hope to serve.

(d) What you hope to accomplish.

(e) How you will spend the money

(f) How you will give a final report of the grant.

5. Review the grant proposal. Designate individuals to provide specific information, such as state and community data, goals, objectives and budget. However, assign one person to write the narrative using one voice.

6. Federal grants and some foundations usually require you work with other community agencies as collaborators.

7. Ask a qualified person to read the grant before submission. Does he or she have questions as to the clarity of the proposal? If so, the grantor will have them also.

8. If pressed for time use an overnight carrier, such as FedEx or UPS, to ensure your grant arrives prior to the deadline.

9. Check the number of copies required. Stamp “original” and place on top and “copy” on the others. Use blue ink for signatures, as black ink copies as black.

Key areas of the application

Virtually all grants require detailed information in certain key areas. A rule of thumb: Always follow the prescribed format and place the required information within the appropriate section. Use the headings and subheadings of the form.

1. Cover letter. Use the letterhead of the organization requesting funding. Briefly summarize the need, the proposed program, and your organization’s qualification to handle the grant.

2. Title Page. Government grants require this page. It contains the project title, name of applicant, fiscal agent (who will administer the funds), signatures of authorized personnel agreeing to the proposal, and date. For lengthy RFPs (Response For Proposals), a Table of Contents placed after the title page helps the reader locate information quickly.

3. Summary. In one page, give a brief overview of the project objectives, procedures, and method of evaluation. The summary may be the only section presented to the foundation board for approval.

4. Introduction. Explain what is needed and why. Has the church experienced something that indicates a need for funds, such as a tornado, flood, fire, or other disaster?

5. Needs or problem statement. What do you need to run a successful program that you don’t have? Is there a gap between where you are and where you need to be? Remember: “Problems Sell!”

Example: The problem to be addressed is transportation for senior adults.

6. Goal. Write a broad general statement of the intended outcome of receiving the grant.

Example: The senior adults at XYZ church need transportation for medical care and educational conferences.

7. Objectives. What are you trying to do? Objectives should relate to the introduction, to activities in the methods section, and to activities in the evaluation. Objectives should:

- Connect to the needs statement and goal.

- Be written in measurable terms; specific time frame, identification of group involved.

- Contain answers to who, what, when, where and how much.

- Include words like reduce, increase and decrease, expand.

Example: During the 2017-2018 church year, the number of transportation trips involving senior adults at XYZ church will be increased by 15 percent compared to the 2015-2016 year.

8. Implementation or methodology. How will you accomplish this project? What methods will you use, and why are you choosing this approach?

- List activities

- Identify person responsible for each activity (use résumé if person is already employed; job description for a new position)

- Provide timeline (starting and ending dates)

- Indicate whether this is a new program or one based on research from another church or organization.

Example: Appoint a committee of three (include a representative from the church) to represent this age group. Hire a consultant to speak to senior adults on health care. Print individual booklets describing exercise, nutrition, medication, and stress reducing activities. Plan a follow-up report of those involved.

9. Evaluation. How will you measure your success? Include both qualitative (surveys, interviews) and quantitative (numbers, test scores, data) methods. How will you know if the project accomplished the goals and objectives? How can it be replicated for other churches?

Example: media, workshops, video, websites, site visits, printed material.

10. Future Funding. How will the project be continued after funding from this grant ends? Be specific. Grantors want to know what plans the church has for the future of the project they are funding.

11. Budget. Present your proposed budget using a table or spreadsheet. Document each item. Be realistic by not asking for too little or too much. Grant readers will know the approximate cost of budget items. If a match is required, use in-kind services or volunteer hours. Always count space, utilities, janitorial services, phone services and secretarial services as part of the matching funds.

12. Budget Narrative. Include all required documentation, such as letters of support from collaborative partners, copies of research or news clippings referred to in the narrative data, statistics, and a copy of the church’s annual budget. Stay within the specified page limit for the narrative and add additional material in the appendices. However, limit the amount of material in the appendices. The reader is not required to read any pages that go beyond the maximum specified.

Once the process is complete, write a thank-you letter, whether you receive funding or not. Thank the grantor for reading your proposal. If you did not receive funding, indicate that you will reapply in the next funding cycle. Sometimes it takes several proposals to receive funding from a grantor. Persistence pays off. Realize there may have been many reasons why your proposal was not funded, and some may have been beyond your control. (WR)

Carolyn Tomlin is the author of “Writing Grants for Faith-Based Organizations and Community Non-Profits,” available on www.amazon.com and Kindle. She served as the grant writer for the Jackson-Madison County Schools in Jackson, TN.

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