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 an online database
This is much more thorough than just trying to search on Google. Try the online database www.fundingcentral.org.uk – it’s free to use and will give you access to 2000 potential grantmakers. It also provides details of contracts and loans, if you want to explore those options too. When you set up your search, be as specific as possible about what your charity or project does – you actually don’t want hundreds of grantmakers to apply to, you want to apply only to those that are most likely to be interested in funding your work.
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. 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 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.
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: Set a realistic timeframe for getting a grant
It can take 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. So think about how you could measure success – it might be to conduct a survey amongst beneficiaries both before and after your work, so you are able to measure a change in attitudes and/or knowledge.
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.