The church is in the process of rapid change driven by the worldwide adoption of technology.
Add to this that the church has seen a major shift in its demographics and in many locations it is now much younger than ever before. The church, like many other institutions, is also undergoing an identity crisis; what does it mean to be church? How can we keep up with the changes in technology while still maintaining our faith-based roots?
This article will explore some of these questions by discussing how churches can use grants to help make their technological transition smoother. Many churches are unaware that they qualify for grant money – and not just for technology, too.
Some grants are available to provide funding that church leaders can use on anything from purchasing new audio/video equipment to updating their website or developing mobile apps, through to upgrading or repairing buildings and even employing staff.
What are Church Grants?
Grants are simply amounts of money that are given to an organization to spend without the need for repayment. They may be obtained from multiple sources – government, local councils, trusts, foundations, corporate entities, etc.
Criteria may need to be met to qualify for a grant, and there are usually restrictions on how any awarded grant money can be spent.
Types of Grants
There are, generally speaking, five types of church grants:
– Emergency Grants – to be used when the church faces an emergency situation. This could include flood damage, fire, accident, theft or natural disaster
– Discretionary Grants – these are given at the discretion of the funder and do not have any set criteria
– Specific Purpose Grants – to be used for a specific purpose, e.g. building renovations, purchase of equipment or furniture
– Capital Grants – for church buildings or renovation projects
– General Operating Support Grant – to help cover church expenses during lean periods in the church’s budget cycle
Additionally, these grants can be found in different ways. Government-backed grants can be contrasted with grants from private entities, while some grants may only be available to churches in specific geographic areas.
In the UK, this is often tied to areas that are known to suffer from deprivation and might be linked to postcode areas. This means that a building on one side of a street may qualify for a grant, while the building opposite does not.
Similarly, some grants are only available for certain demographics (think senior-specific grants) or denominations (Catholic-only funds, etc).
Where to Find Church Technology Grants
While church-specific grants are not always available, it can help when your church is registered as a charity. Grants to support charity work are much more readily available.
In the US, there are well-known grant funders including Lilly Endowment (https://lillyendowment.org/for-grantseekers/guidelines/), the Church Web Fund (https://www.churchwebfund.org/christian-technology-grants/), and the Technology and Ministry Grants Initiative (https://centerforcongregations.org/workshop/technology-and-ministry-grants-initiative).
In the UK, it’s not necessarily easy to find support – or grant funders that match your beliefs. One of the largest providers of funding is the National Lottery (https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/) – but many churches will reject this as the ultimate source of the funds is essentially gambling.
Running a Google search for “[PROJECT] grant funding UK” can often bring up some useful results, and there are databases of funding opportunities available.
However, the databases may charge a yearly fee for usage – if you’re not fully committed, this could be wasted money. And of course, even with these resources at your fingertips, there’s no guarantee that your application for any funding will be successful.
Examples of such databases include Grants Online (https://www.grantsonline.org.uk/), GrantFinder (https://www.grantfinder.co.uk/), and Funding For All (http://www.fundingforall.org.uk/available-funds/).
A relatively new entry into this field is Brevio (https://news.brevio.org/), which at the time of writing can be used for free.
Most of these funding databases allow you to search for funding that matches your needs, but Brevio takes a slightly different approach. For most other databases, set-up is minimal – you log in and start searching. Brevio wants you to set up a comprehensive profile first, and then define one (or more) funding needs – complete with descriptions and detailed information.
Brevio then finds grants that match your needs automatically, notifying you by email when something is available. With all the info already entered, it makes the application process much easier.
Writing an Application
Stop. Don’t write an application yet!
When you find a grantmaker that is likely to be able to make a grant to your church, take care before proceeding. Have a clear idea in your mind (or even on paper) what you want the money for. Funding applications are often more successful when you have a clearly defined project or goal in mind, rather than going in with the hope of simply receiving some money.
Make certain that this project or goal aligns with the requirements and goals of the funding provider. Also, check that your church meets the criteria for receiving an award – some are limited by location, demographics, the amount of money you collect during a financial year, other funding you may have already received – and some grants are not available at all to organizations linked with religion.
Once you are satisfied that all is well, you can start to look over the application form. There will be simple details needed, such as your name, church/charity name, address, contact info, and some basic financial details.
There may be other documents required, such as accounts, certificates, bank statements, and so on – make sure to find these and send the most recent copies.
The biggest issue that many applicants face is writing the meat of the application. This will usually involve questions like, “What do you hope to achieve?”, “How will you spend the money?” and “Who do you want to help?”.
You may also be asked for a potted history of your activity. Write all of these answers out somewhere else before committing them to the application form. Use a pen and paper or a word processor, it doesn’t matter which.
Once you’ve written them, go back and look at the requirements for being awarded the grant, and tweak what you’ve written to more closely align with them. Grants are often awarded to people and churches doing good work, but there are more likely to be awarded if your work truly resonates with the entity providing the grant.
Don’t lie, don’t make things up, but do take note of what the application form is looking for. In some cases, you’ll need to back up what you’ve written, so never attempt to be deceitful.
Once you’re happy, get someone else to check it over. Grammar and spelling mistakes aren’t dealbreakers, but you want to look professional.
Finally, ensure that everything is all OK with your leadership team before submitting your application. If you get a grant and your leadership team isn’t on board with the project you’ve requested money for, it can lead to a whole host of problems!
Why Choose Grants for Churches?
Churches that qualify for church grants:
– will have a better chance of being able to make major upgrades without worrying about finances
– might be able to employ staff from the grant money provided
– will be able to make repairs or upgrades on church buildings with church grants, as this is a common expense related to church upkeep
Grant money for church technology will help churches transition into the digital age without feeling like they are neglecting their faith-based roots. It can be difficult to get church technology funding, depending on where the church is located, what resources are available in the area, and if anyone has applied for church technology grants previously.
Church technology grants are often given on a competitive basis due to limited funds. The application process can also be strenuous because of this competition, but it can be worthwhile in the end.
If your church isn’t already looking into grant funding opportunities, now is an ideal time to start. The sooner you begin your applications, the sooner you can expect success – and in this modern age, every penny counts.