If your church is interested in starting or expanding an outreach into the community or is in need of funds for something other than operating expenses, there are church grants available. When a church begins to look at the government or foundations for funding, it is important to have a clear idea of what your request is going to cover. Identifying what you need helps you to find a funding source with the same goals as your church.
The first place to begin your search for church grants is your denomination's headquarters. Some denominations offer local churches grants for building or programing needs. They will also assist with food or clothes banks. If you are not a member of a denomination that offers church grants, you might try government or foundation grants for churches.
There are many myths regarding church grants or faith-based funding. Church grants that are provided from a governmental source are not intended for the operation of the faith-based organization or church! There are laws and restrictions regarding funds received from the government. While a faith-based organization can apply for a variety of grants, the service it is funding must be offered to everyone regardless of religion, race, gender, etc. A church receiving the grant cannot require participants in a program or service provided through the governmental funding source to attend services or to profess a specific faith. Church grants usually provide a benefit to the community. The types of projects that would qualify for a government grant are homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, and a variety of other community benefit type services. Many churches decide not to pursue governmental sources when looking for grants for churches because of the restrictions and prohibitions placed upon recipients.
The most common church grants are derived from foundations, which can offer more variety, but few fund operational expenses such as salaries, utilities, supplies, etc. unless they part of a service or program. It is normal for grantors to request that the program or project be performed in a separate building from the church itself to ensure that there is no discrimination. It also is easier to track the church grant's expenditures if everything is kept separate.
One of the most important things to remember when preparing your church grant proposal, is that few grants are set aside just for churches. Churches receive grant funds through venues that also offer the same funding to community organizations, so it is important that your proposal is completed accurately and compellingly.