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Writing faith-based grants for Kentucky churches (Part II)


I’ve often heard it said, “Only the large churches and organizations receive funding from grants.” As a grant writer, this is not true. Whether your church is in big cities such as Louisville, Lexington, Paducah, Bowling Green, or the smaller towns of Kevil, Scottsville, or Pikeville — if you submit a well-written grant that meets a unique need, you have a good chance of being funded.

In Part II of Writing Grants for Faith-Based Kentucky Churches, these tips and understanding the terms will help you receive funds. Apply these and select a grant-writing committee who are informed and willing to work to receive funds.

Tips for Grant Writing

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” It’s true of grant writing, also. Receiving funds or not receiving funds often depends on the details. The following tips can make a difference in the success rate of your church.

- Make sure the authorized person signs the grant. Blue ink is preferred, unless indicated. This plainly distinguishes the original from the copy of the signature page.

- Check titles of former grants. Did they use a catchy title or a more generic one?

- Honor the deadline. If a grant proposal arrives past the submission deadline, it will not be read. Some give the postmark date, others the date it must be in their office.

- Follow the exact guidelines. All grants have the same basic format, but each is different. Check the preferred font, margins, page numbers, and type size.

- Collect the most recent data on your faith-based organization and have it available for all grants. Include free/reduced lunches, geographical location, racial mix, family income levels where the church is located, numbers in housing projects, dropout rate, and number of children in foster care, etc. Place all this data in one file that is available for the grant-writing committee.

- Avoid giving percentages without numbers: say 25% or 100 (homes, families, or people) of the 400 membership.”

- Rewrite statements to use terminology that appears in the RFP. Make information easy to find. Use bold print for emphasis.

- Make a personal contact if possible. Statistics show that grantors are more likely to remember the names of grant writers who make a personal visit, phone call, or email. Be familiar with the proposal and ask sensible questions. Ask for advice before the application is submitted.

- Foundations may request a letter of inquiry before asking for a full proposal. This saves time for the grantee and grantor.

- Submit the required number of copies. Stamp “Original” and one and “Copy” on the others.

- Staple your submission at the top left-hand corner. Do not enclose it in a binder or use a report cover. The cover sheet or title page should be on top.

- Always keep a copy of the RFP and your proposal for your records.

- Use the U.S. mail to submit your document to foundations or to federal agencies. Foundations like to see that you have mailed your application on time without the need to send by overnight carrier, and the government wants to promote use of the U.S. Postal Service. (However, if late, send by overnight carrier.)

Receiving a grant is a competitive process. However, by following these guidelines, faith-based organizations will increase their chances of being funded.


Every field encompasses terms which are necessary for success. Grant writing is no different. These terms will help you understand the application and follow the directions for writing a grant.

Abstract: A one-page proposal that contains an overview of the grant, also called the summary.

Addendum: Supporting materials that have been mentioned in the narrative of the grant and which are included at the end.

Application: The form used to write the grant supplied by the funding agency.

Budget:v A three-column plan that tells how you will spend the money. Use whole dollar figures. A budget narrative is a written description of expenses.

Coordinator: The person responsible for administering the entire grant or a portion of it.

Cover letter: A formal letter appearing at the front of the grant package.

Deadline: The date the grant is due on the grantor’s desk — not the postmark date.

Dissemination: The approach you will take to telling others about your project, such as presenting a workshop, media presentation, handouts, or survey results.

Evaluation: The quantitative and qualitative means you will use to determine if the program succeeds. Did you meet your goals and objectives as stated in the grant?

Final report: Grantors often supply their own form. Be thorough in writing about the project’s expected outcome.

Goal: A broad statement that addresses the need.

Grantee: The organization or individual receiving the funds.

Grantor: The organization or person giving the award.

Guidelines: The exact requirements for applying for funds. Follow them as stated or you may lose points when your grant application is reviewed by the grantor.

In-kind: Contributions such as volunteer time or products (not monetary) donations.

Indirect cost: The cost of handling the grant funds, usually ranging from 5% to 10%. This does not cover the cost of equipment.

Letter of support: Statement from another agency or individual who will work with you on the grant. Include these in the addendum.

Narrative: The part that tells, who, what, when, where, and how. Stay within the specified number of pages.

Objective: A measurable statement telling what you plan to accomplish.

Project director: Person responsible for conducting activities, evaluation, and follow-up.

Qualitative data: Surveys, interviews, and case studies that shows how people are feeling or behaving. Use in the needs part of the narrative.

Quantitative data: Figures and statistics such as test scores that show the need for the grant.

Site visit: A planned visit to the grantee by the grantor to observe the grant in action.

Selecting a grant-writing committee

Choose key personnel, who are dedicated, dependable, have integrity, computer shills, and a willingness to work. Faith-based organizations should include:

- Pastor or director of organization

- Minister serving this age group

- Member of trustees or chairman of the governing body

- Representative from the finance committee

Reasons you may not receive funding

Realize that some things may be beyond your control. Such as:

- Reader has not had morning coffee

- Late afternoon reading

- Funds already given in same geographical location

- Outside geographical location of giving

- Missed deadline (most foundations meet quarterly; you can resubmit next quarter)

- Type difficult to read, misspellings, incorrect grammar

- Exceeded the requested number of pages

- Omitted vital information

Carolyn Tomlin, M.Ed., has been a public school teacher, university professor and the grant writer. She teaches grant writing workshops and is the author of “Writing Grants for Faith-Based Organizations and Community Non-Profits.”

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