Psalm 61:1-4 KJV
Hear my cry, O God;
attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a SHELTER for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:
I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
Funding for faith based programs comes from many resources. Some of those include, in kind gifts, donations and funding from grants. Funding from a grant is an important source of income for start up not for profit organizations and for organizations that have plans to expand programs or services.
Grants are one source of funding that is available. Some of the resources that offer grants are government grants, private foundation grants, family foundation grants and a few other sources. They all come under the category called fundraising.
Your new faith based organization will need a fundraising plan in order to be eligible to be considered to receive a grant. The most important thing you can do to help your organization is to pray and have a realistic goal. You might want to offer help for every Christian in your community who wants services from a Christian based program but cannot.
Here are a few things to consider when applying for a grant. Be realistic; the reality will be somewhere between your burning desire and the realistic elements necessary to run a program. Your vision might be to open a 50 bed facility and you can only get funding for a 10 bed facility. Be realistic and work on a plan the will offer the best service available to a 10 bed program.
The first grant I ever wrote was for funds to buy air tapes for a program I produced on public access television. I asked for $500.00 and I got the money. I was excited because I felt that someone believed in me, and I could finally get my message to the community. What I did not do was follow my original plan to ask for a specific number of tapes plus money to purchase a camera. When it came time to report to the foundation who granted the money I was told flat out I could not use any of the money to purchase a camera. I did not ask for money to buy a camera. I was not realistic about my needs and I was not honest about how I planned to use the money. That brings me to my next point for you to consider.
Be honest. Asking for money to by beds and then buying computers are two completely different issues, and it is not being honest. Do you really want to start like that? Besides, I can tell you from working as a grant writer and consultant, when you get caught, it will take a lot of explaining before you will be considered for any future funding from any foundation, private or public. You must report to the funding organization on how you used the money and they want to see receipts.
Grantwriting is a multidimensional discipline. It takes a well organized, mission driven plan in order to be a success. Grantmaking foundations look for specific information about the organization that is applying for funds. They want a detailed explanation about how the funds will be used and how the organization will continue to function after the funds have been used. Organizational sustainability is important to grantmaking foundations. Make sure the request for grant money is based on the mission and vision of you program.
Leviticus 26:2-6 KJV
2. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
3. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4. Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6: And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
In Leviticus, one of the Books of Law, God tells us of his pledge. The foundation of a Christian based recovery program must be built on a pledge to help those who seek help in the name of God.
Mission and vision are the foundation of a treatment program. Applying for funding to start or grow a program must be mission driven in order to keep true to the reason and commitment to offer services to those who need them. First things first. The core values of the program must be based in ethics.
Ethics is not a black and white issue with a clear definition. Although you can find a definition of ethics in the dictionary, you must answer the question, what is the ethical foundation of your program? In real time, ethics is more about the interpersonal human relationships and how we apply who we are to what we do without letting our bias and judgments determine what is right or wrong. This is just one of many ways of answering the question of what is and is not ethical.
A question you might need to answer is how do you determine what is ethical for your program and how does it apply to mission and vision. Another question you might ask yourself is who will we approach to serve on the board of directors that supports the mission and vision of our program from an ethical prospective This line of thinking has to be consistent all the way thorough every employee and volunteer in your program.
Consider this. Do you offer services to a person that says she is a Christian who is a substance abuser, and is on the run from the courts, but refuse to admit a person who says she is an atheist who clearly needs help and wants help. This is just one example of the many ethical questions you might encounter when you develop your program and present it to funders. The question of what is ethical for your program is going to take some time to answer. So easy does it.
Things to remember when you write your grant.
Grant writers must have discipline. Your grant application must be organized, and planned. Foundations that award grants look for specific information about the program that is applying for funds. They expect a detailed explanation about how the funds will help the program and how the program will continue to function after the funds are spent.
Writing the proposal and doing the research do not cost a lot of money, if any at all, but it does take a lot of time. Plan in advance to apply for a grant. Think in terms of at least one year in advance. Some grant applications deadline quarterly. Some are open all year while others accept application only once every year so be prepared.
Grant writing is a full time job. If you do not have a grant writer on your staff, it is important to the organization to have someone or a core group of stakeholders always looking for funds. Programs usually know exactly what they need; they just may not know how to put it into language that makes grant writing sense. A grant application must be:
Keep all of the margins, type font, spacing and other technical aspects consistent throughout the entire application. When and if you use charts or other graphics they should be clear and easy to understand. If the application says write the application in 10 point Times Roman type double spaced, that is exactly what it means. It makes it easy for a foundation to have consistent type. Remember you are adjusting to what they need, Do not expect them to adjust to what you want.
Easy to read
Plan everything and assume nothing. The first person who reads your proposal might be a financial analyst who looks for sound financial planning and whether or not overall proposal fits within the financial scope the foundation. They might have an MBA from Harvard University and know nothing about non profit programs. Make sure it is financially plausible, easy to read and intellectually sophisticated. Research your funders thoroughly. There are search engines that can help you find funders.
Start with your local community foundation. They are a wealth of information and very helpful. Ask organizations that have received a grant what they did and how they did it. Most will be happy to help.
Do a through research of the foundation you are applying to for funds. They might fund other components of a start up program than you are not looking for. You might be looking for start up funds for fixed cost and they might have funds exclusively for client services.
Find out who else is doing what you want to do, who else the foundation has funded, who has applied and why their program was funded or did not get funded.
Learn about collaboratives. It is very important to know what organizations in you community can support you in you efforts to be successful.
Tell funders exactly what you want to do. Tell them how long it will take to achieve you goal and how will you do this?
Is you mission to increase the awareness that a problem exist in the community before you can increase the services needed? Will an increase in service decrease the problem? Do you need to collaborate with another organization to do this? Have a fiscal sponsor. Most if not all foundations will not take a chance on giving a new organization money if they do not have a financial record of accomplishment. Remember our Harvard MBA?
Most important is to understand that you will achieve your mission even though it might not happen then way you want it to or when you plan for it to happen. Keep praying, read the bible and most of all good luck.