Disciple: The Gift of Grants
Resources are one of the greatest challenges facing any ministry, collaboration or nonprofit, with financial considerations generally at the top of the list. Happily, there are countless grants available in for-profit, nonprofit, government and faith-based sectors that can help navigate financial challenges, turning what can be an obstacle into a gateway to making the work of ministry possible.
Because so many grants are available and many people do not have experience writing grant applications, we are here to help you get started. The Rev. Rebecca Yarbrough, deacon at Chapel of Christ the King, Charlotte, and diocesan Jesse Ball duPont Fund grants coordinator, has compiled her top 10 tips for grant writing, and in the following pages we share stories of grants awarded to ministries—both existing and new—across the Diocese of North Carolina. With a few additional resources added in to get you started, we hope you’ll find both inspiration and guidance to take the first steps on your own path to making your ministry possible.
[Image: The Flyin’ Lion Transition to Work Program at St. Mark’s, Huntersville, provides a faith-filled environment where people facing poverty, domestic violence and homelessness prepare for work in food service. The ministry is funded partially by a Mission Endowment Grant. Photo by Linda Amidei]
Ten Steps to Successful Grant Writing
By the Rev. Rebecca Yarbrough
Obtaining funding for the good you want to do in the world is sometimes difficult, but it’s out there and easier to access if you follow these 10 steps:
- Know your mission, have a vision, and have some strategies for how you want to go about achieving your vision and fulfilling your mission. This comes first, and the more clarity you have around it, the better.
- Involve the people you hope to serve or engage, and the organizations with which you want to partner, especially in identifying the strategies and projects for which you’ll seek funding. This will avoid “solutions in search of a problem,” make your statements about project need stronger, and is more respectful and empowering for all.
- Learn about grants available from the Diocese of North Carolina, The Episcopal Church and other sources. Google the websites of community foundations, and look at your town’s largest employers and wealthiest families to see if they have corporate or family foundations. Even government grants can fund some direct service projects run by churches. Look for funders interested in your mission and vision. Don’t just focus on big national grantors or big grants; often it’s much easier to put together several smaller grants to fund a project, and less competitive. Read all application materials!
- When the right grant opportunity comes along, assemble a project team to help with the application. This is a great time for collaboration, including with the folk who’ll be impacted—funders love collaboration! Too, many hands make light work, so create a plan for putting the application together and share the workload.
- Start by developing your project plan: everything that will need to be done to implement your project and reach your desired goals and outcomes. You can do this easily and cheaply by brainstorming it with your project team and putting your thoughts on cut strips of paper with painter’s tape on a wall (sticky notes are good, too). Think also about how you’ll demonstrate that you’ve done what you want to do, and capture lessons learned in the process. Don’t forget to think about how the project will be managed. Budget time and resources for evaluation and management structure.
- Once you have a rough project plan on which everyone agrees, you can refine it, nail down your costs more accurately, establish a timeline and assign responsibilities (and confirm buy-in).
- Finalize your budget. This means not only what you’ll be asking for from a grantor, but what you will put into the project, either as cash or donated time, or goods and services (called “in-kind” match). Think how you’ll document any in-kind donations. Get project partners to help you with their in-kind or cash donations. “Skin in the game” is huge to funders.
- Now you’re ready to start writing. Know who you’re writing for—use some of the language your potential funders use on their website, be succinct, and don’t use jargon. If the application form asks specific questions, always make the first one or two sentences of your response a clear and direct response to the question being asked. If space allows, you can then expand on your response to provide context and tell your story. Adhere to word and character limits, and read all the fine print on the application to be sure you’ve covered all the bases. You’ll probably need to do several drafts before you have a final.
- Get letters of endorsement/commitment from any organizations or individuals who are part of the team and who are putting up either cash or in-kind matches. You can usually include a couple of these unless the grant guidelines specifically prohibit it, and it will strengthen your application.
- Get your proposal in on time. If you are submitting via an online form, write your proposal in Word or a similar program, and then copy and paste (don’t cut and paste) it into the online form. Don’t wait for the last minute!
For more information about grant writing, you can check out the diocesan website for a longer grants primer and information on the quick-and-easy project planning method. If you’d like a grant reviewed for comment, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to help. Please be sure to allow plenty of time for the review, as it won’t be helpful to try it right before the grant deadline.
Start Your Search
- The Episcopal Church - There are a multitude of grants available through the Episcopal Church. Get to know them here.
- The Diocese of North Carolina - There are a dozen grants and scholarships available through the Diocese of North Carolina. Find them here.
- Use Google, and start with the websites of community foundations.
- Look at your town’s largest employers and wealthiest families to see if they have corporate or family foundations.
- Government grants can fund some direct service projects run by churches.
- Look for funders interested in your mission and vision.
Remember, don’t focus only on big national grantors or big grants; often it’s much easier and less competitive to put together several smaller grants to fund a project.
The Rev. Rebecca Yarbrough is a deacon at Chapel of Christ the King, Charlotte, and diocesan Jesse Ball DuPont Funds Grants Coordinator.
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina announced in July it is the recipient of a $120,000 grant from Trinity Wall Street Philanthropies for its ongoing work helping congregations to thrive. The Diocese is one of 25 organizations to receive a grant, all of which are recognized for their dedication “to advancing leadership development and building sustainable financial capacity in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and beyond.”
The work this grant is intended to support plans for the development of a network for leadership development and congregational vitality to serve clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of North Carolina and throughout the Episcopal Church. The idea for the grant proposal emerged from conversations between members of the diocesan congregational support and development team and Trinity Wall Street Philanthropies leadership development staff. These conversations centered around the need to create a space and support for communities and networks of practitioners, congregations and leaders to explore and develop practices and responses to overcome challenges churches face today to sustain vital congregations and ministries.
“We are excited about this opportunity for church-wide leadership development and grateful to the team at Trinity Wall Street Philanthropies for their initiative in supporting the creation of this network of leaders,” said the Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. “One of the lessons of the pandemic has been that the best adaptations come from conversations with others who are facing similar challenges. In the 21st-century church, peer-to-peer collaboration and relationship building are essential components in Becoming Beloved Community.”
The grant awards the Diocese of North Carolina $120,000 over two years. This is the first multi-year initiative funded by Trinity Wall Street Philanthropies’ leadership development program. Through this grant, members of our diocese will be working with others to build relationships and create connections in meetings at regional and national levels, as well as hosting conferences and online gatherings. For the Diocese of North Carolina, this grant provides support for our work on new ways to engage our congregations and communities, including opportunities for leadership development for clergy, lay leaders and congregations, and access to resources and information about best practices and innovation to support congregational vitality.
“We’re in constant conversations with congregations about how to thrive in an ever-changing world,” said the Rev. Canon Dr. Sally French, regional canon and co-author of the grant. “This opportunity will help us build the resources and support within our denomination to explore and build best practices to help congregations be who they are called to be.”
The awarding of the grant is an acknowledgement of the work happening in the Diocese of North Carolina. Following the grant support to create Reimagining Curacies and selection to participate in the Episcopal Preaching Foundation’s Lay Preacher Teaching Initiative, this grant to support congregational vitality recognizes the diocesan priority to explore new paths on our journey to Becoming Beloved Community.
“Our hope is this work will strengthen our efforts to support congregations and leaders at all levels in our diocese,” said French. “We’re excited to see the directions in which this will take us and how it will support the growth of new initiatives and provide increased opportunities for collaboration in the areas of congregational vitality and leadership development throughout the Episcopal Church.”
Also in July, St. Ambrose, Raleigh, announced it was the recipient of a $24,000 Creation Care Grant from the Episcopal Church to fund their proposed project, “The Healing Pod: Resilience and Resurrection Through Education, Spiritual Formation and Healing.” The Healing Pod is a three-phase project that will include education through podcasts about environmental racism; spiritual formation through the installation of a labyrinth; and spiritual and emotional healing through horticulture, which will be known as the Healing Pod. The phases of this project represent progression towards achieving resilience and resurrection.
As explained in the announcement by St. Ambrose, “the Task Force on Creation Care and Environmental Racism was charged with supporting and expanding the Episcopal Church’s loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God, with each other and with Creation. The grant program sought to support long-term ministries that focused on the inequitable and systemic impacts of environmental racism, regional and local ecojustice concerns, and the pressing issues arising from the climate emergency. Grant awards ranged from $15,000 to $40,000, and 10 projects across the United States were funded. Grant proposals were expected to have an impact beyond the applicant’s organization/parish and include at least one partner in accomplishing the granted project. The proposed programs or efforts were also expected to serve as models for other communities in different contexts. A proposal had to show significant financial or in-kind support provided by the applying entity, partner organizations, diocese or other supporters.”
Mission Endowment grants are one of the grants available from the Diocese of North Carolina. A permanent endowment created for the specific purpose of supporting the diocesan mission strategy of establishing “the Episcopal presence of Christ in communities in ways that brings the community to see Christ’s presence among them,” what makes the grant unique is expanded eligibility. While grant projects must relate to missionary initiatives located within the 38 counties of the Diocese, the initiatives themselves do not have to be associated with diocesan entities. Only one participating member of the proposed project team is required to be associated with a diocesan entity; the rest of the team can build out from there. You can learn more here.
- Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte
$14,800 in 2021
Providing funding to create a coffee shop to foster relationships, make a community meeting space and generate income for the ministries of Galilee
- St. John’s, Wake Forest
$18,000 in 2021 and 2022
Providing funding to support establishing the Wake Forest Community Table, which seeks to address food insecurity and racial inequity, as a 501(c)3 non-profit with a director’s salary.
- St. Luke’s, Tarboro
$15,000 in 2021
Providing funding for the Give and Take community outreach project that has served many in need throughout the pandemic (“Give and Take,” Disciple, Spring 2021).
- St. Mark’s, Raleigh
$25,000 in 2021
Providing funding for a visual arts program that is an extension and seeks to deepen relationships with the surrounding neighborhood. The exhibits will utilize the arts to further community connections, cultural exchanges and spiritual growth.
Johnson Service Corps Receives Two Grants from The Episcopal Church
The Johnson Service Corps was notified over the summer it is the recipient of two grants available through the Episcopal Church: a $10,000 Becoming Beloved Community grant and a $24,000 Constable Fund grant.
Becoming Beloved Community grants, per the Episcopal Church news release, “may be used for work in the following areas: telling the truth about our churches and race; proclaiming the dream of Beloved Community; practicing Jesus’ way of healing and reconciliation; and repairing the breach in institutions and society.” Becoming Beloved Community grants “include seed grants up to $10,000 and impact grants up to $20,000. Seed grants are geared toward groups launching new projects—including educational training and exploratory work ahead of bigger projects—or growing existing projects. Impact grants are aimed primarily at increasing the capacity, impact and reach of communities and institutions already working to advance racial justice, healing and reconciliation.” Johnson Service Corps received an impact grant for its Proclaiming Beloved Community program.
The Constable Fund, also per the Episcopal Church, “provides grants to fund mission initiatives…with a stated preference for work in the area of religious education.”
Upcoming Grant Deadlines
Find information on the grants listed below at episdionc.org/grants-scholarships, except where otherwise noted.
- Global Mission Grants
- Missionary Resource Support Team (MRST) Seed Grants
- St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation Grants
- NC Episcopal Church Foundation Grants
- Green Grants
- Mission Endowment Grants
- Environmental Committee (Small) Green Grants
Tags: North Carolina Disciple