Grants for small churches

Updated April 17, 2017

Even though not as common as grants in other areas, small church grants are available, even for churches with congregations fewer than 100 people. Understanding your small church's needs and creatively exploring resources can open the door for grant funding in many areas. Also, communicating your needs to individuals and to organisations can help to connect you with possible funding resources, as sometimes granters do not accept applications but instead seek out for grant recipients.

Primary Needs

Before searching for possible grants, consider what exactly the grant needs to cover. Does your small church need to construct a building or to make repairs to a current structure? Does the church need assistance establishing a communication strategy or with creating a community outreach program? Does the congregation's pastor or priest need a sabbatical, or perhaps more support with administrative duties. Clearly identifying the church's need will help with locating the best possible resources for grants. Most granters, such as the Duke Endowment, target specific needs. The endowment funds food and elder ministries, and child care and housing programs.

Additional Options

Consider funding options outside your most obvious need areas. For example, perhaps your small church is heavily involved in community service, such as feeding the homeless and providing transportation services, and you are looking for a small grant could help to offset the costs of these programs. However, your church may also qualify for grants in other areas as well, such as grants for developing a children's ministry or for purchasing multimedia equipment. Many granters, such as the New and Small Church Grant Fund from the Synod of the mid-Atlantic Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), provide funds to meet a variety of needs.

Grant Research

Ask other local churches or denominational leaders about possible granters, and if your small church is affiliated with a specific denomination, contact the main offices as well. Many denominations have funding set aside to help support small congregations, such as the New Braunfels Presbyterian Church fund for Texas churches with under 100 congregants. If your congregation is housed in a historic building, then the church may qualify for a historic preservation grant through the federal government. Some private organisations, including the Champlin Foundation and the Mildred Faulkner Truman Foundation, also provide historic preservation funds to churches. Your small church may qualify for other private grants as well, such as those offered by the Oldham Little Church Foundation or the Frank E. Clark Charitable Trust, both of which specifically target small churches.

Application Process

Granters will often require that potential recipients complete a detailed application process. For many granters, you will need to demonstrate what your church needs through clear description and documentation. You will need to identify a total amount for the requested grant, as well as a projected plan or budget for the use of the grant funds. Often, a granter will also want to know the timeline you will follow in using the grant and the methods you will use to evaluate the outcome of the grant.

Measurable Outcomes

Your church will need to have demonstrable ways to measure the outcomes of grant funding. That is, once a grant has been received, a small church will need to show to the granting institution that the funds have been used ethically, in accordance with the grant stipulations and guidelines. Having a clear timeline for the dissemination of grant funds, as well as clear objectives for the use of those funds, can help you to fulfil your responsibility to the granter. Often, a granter will want to see periodic and final reports on the use of grant funds.

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About the Author

Christine Switzer has been a freelance writer since 2007. She contributes to travel and regional periodicals such as "Georgetown View" and "Burlington the Beautiful" and she enjoys writing on travel, lifestyle and the workplace. Switzer holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in English and has taught university courses in communication, public speaking and journalism.