When Christians start up a small charity, often their funding initially comes from friends, family and their local church. But there will come a time when you need more funding so you can do more mission.
Today and in the next two blogs, I’ll outline three key ways that most small charities use to step their funding up to the next level, and some pointers on how you can do the same.
This week I’ll focus on grants.
Tip 1: Try your local authority
If your small Christian charity provides a service to the community, and provided it isn’t overtly evangelical, you may be able to get a grant through your local authority. Yes, local authority budgets are being drastically cut, but they can often point you to other sources of grants in the area, for example, local Community Foundations.
Tip 2: Explore national funders, not just local ones
Provided evangelism isn’t a core part of your charity’s work, you might be able to get a grant from a big national funder. Here are 10 of the bigger ones (most of these are focused on UK work):
But there are thousands more, including grantmakers that will give to evangelical projects.
Tip 3: Search for grants using a database
There are a number of funding databases in existence, some charge a subscription whilst others are free. If you’re a small charity and just starting out in grant fundraising, I’d suggest www.fundingcentral.co.uk – it’s free and includes 4000 providers of grants, contracts and loans.
Tip 4: Check, check, check exclusions
Check out ALL the exclusions and eligibility criteria for a funder – read their website and any guidelines they provide BEFORE you start an application. Be sure your project or charity fits. It’ll save you a lot of wasted time!
Tip 5: Don’t ignore funders who say they don’t fund ‘religious activity’
If a funder says they won’t fund ‘religious activity’ they generally mean evangelism, or projects aimed at helping people of only one faith. So if your Christian charity runs a project that helps people of all faiths and none, and doesn’t proactively share the gospel, you may be eligible for funding. If it’s not clear from their website, contact them to ask.
Tip 6: You’ll need to apply to quite a few funders to be successful
On average only 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 grant applications are successful, so don’t just apply to one or two grantmakers.
Tip 7: Most funders won’t fund core costs
Only a few grantmakers will specifically give to core costs (e.g. salaries, overheads, website hosting etc). If your charity works overseas, it’s even harder to find core cost funding. Mostly, grantmakers want to fund projects. But it is possible to incorporate some elements of core costs into your project applications.
Tip 8: Persistence can really pay off
If you don’t get a grant from a funder the first time, it may be that they’re nervous about investing in a new charity. Sometimes you have to apply two or three times before they decide to fund you.
Tip 9: Be realistic about how long it can take to get a grant
It can take as long as 6-12 months from when you submit your application to hearing that you’ve been successful and getting funds into your bank account.
Tip 10: Prove that your project/charity makes a tangible difference
Make sure you incorporate a means of monitoring and evaluation into your grant applications. For example, in 2016 Henry Smith Charity turned down 44% of the grant applications they received because they didn’t provide evidence that their service is making a difference to the lives of the people they are supporting.
P.S: One of my friends has just said she feels sorry for the evangelical charities! But don’t worry – if yours is an evangelical charity, I’ll have some special tips for you coming soon. Sign up to get updates to be sure you don’t miss them!
If you’d like more help with raising funds from grants, do get in touch with me, Emma Ives, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07775 733010.