Grants: The Fountain of Money?


Grants: The Fountain of Money?
Every now and again, I get asked: “What about grants?  Aren’t they a good place to find money?” Why, it’s as if there are fountains of cash just waiting for your dipping bucket!  Well friends, the answer to “Should we apply for a grant?” (and I know you will be be stunned by this response), is “yes” and “no.”

 “No” because:

  • Very few foundations will fund a church outright. Most foundation guidelines will inevitably say, “Grants will not be considered for programs or initiatives where the primary purpose is the promotion of religious doctrine or tenets.”  So no, most foundations will not fund your Sunday School.
  • Funding is tenuous.  Hear the strains of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – there is no guarantee that because you write an awesome grant, you will get it.  Don’t rely on grants to complete your budget.
  • Grants can tempt you to follow the money rather than your mission.  History is replete with numerous non-profits who have strayed from their core purpose in order to get money.  And then those funds run out.  Not a good idea.

"Yes" because:

  • A grant can give you the opportunity to partner with a non-profit in your community.  If the non-profit proposes a program that meets the dual mission for them and for you and enhances what you are already doing (and they write the grant), it’s a win/win proposition for everyone.
  • You can expand ministries that impact God’s people.  If you have a ministry that is externally focused – think soup kitchen, drop-in center, after-school program – and you do not require that people attend your church in order to get those services, you may be eligible for a grant.
  • If you don’t apply, you’ll never get a grant.  Be smart about it.  Do your due diligence and research potential foundations.  In Oregon you can find information in the Oregon Foundation Data Book.  That book can be found at your local library (you remember what that is, right?). The World Wide Web (www written out makes it look slightly creepy, just sayin’) can also lead you to some grant possibilities.  Once you know something about a particularly promising foundation, call and ask their foundation officer if your program or organization is one they will consider funding. 

Grants can be great – and a wonderful blessing to the church, the community, and to God’s people who will benefit from it.  But go into it with your eyes wide open, knowing that there will undoubtedly be some hard work involved to obtain one.  Oh, and if you find the Fountain of Money along the way, let me know.  I’ll be right over with my bucket.
Because of the generosity of the Collins Foundation, if you find yourself at a place where you think you might want to write a grant, I am available to briefly consult with you about it.  Shoot me an email.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  She wishes that she could find the Fountain of Youth along with the Fountain of Money.  Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.