Many churches are behind the times in making their place of worship wheelchair-accessible. Wheelchair lifts help churches provide access to worship services, Bible studies and other church programs. Even though churches are not considered a public building, it is important for church leadership to be proactive and consider the needs of all congregants and offer assistance for those who cannot access stairs.
Research the type of wheelchairs that your parishioners use and what areas of the church need to be accessed. This will affect the cost of the wheelchair lift. You may also need to consider the weight that a wheelchair lift can carry.
Create a budget for your handicap lift project by examining all associated costs. Decide what type of chairlift you want, as well as the price of the wheelchair lift that you want to have installed in your church building. Make sure that you have several quotes that break down the cost of the lift, installation, and any other necessary adaptations to the building. When budgeting, you may consider the cost of insurance, maintenance, and even funds for repairs for the first year.
Determine who your church wants to submit a grant to by reviewing the eligibility requirements. Lists of grant foundations can be found at FoundationCenter.org. Try to find funders that support the disabled, accessibility, denomination or churches. If the wheelchair lift is for a school associated with your church, then you may need to search by school to expand your funding opportunities.
Write a cover letter that provides information about your church, such as the contact information, website address, type of support that your church is requesting for the handicap lift and the amount.
Develop your grant proposal by creating a history of your church, along with accomplishments, and the number of parishioners. If you provide programs specifically for those who are have developmental delays, diseases or are wheelchair bound, you may consider explaining those programs in greater detail. Showing how you connect with the population you are trying to reach will only strengthen your grant proposal.
Outline how you believe the handicap lift will improve your church community. You may consider including the number of those who will use the handicap lift and describe their current situation. For instance, do people need to be carried up/down the stairs if they want to access a service? Is the current handicap lift out of order or significantly dangerous? Explaining the current situation can create an emotional appeal for your grant request.
Include information about the time line for the handicap lift that is measurable and realistic. For instance, if your church requests matching funds, of $5,000, but you still have $10,000 to raise through grants, make sure that you have a realistic time line based on the application and review process for the proposal.
Develop attachments that outline the church leadership, the last year's budget for the church, financial statements and other information. If the funder accepts extraneous documentation, you may consider including pictures as part of your proposal to demonstrate the need for a handicap lift.
Always check with a funder to see what requirements they have for a grant request.
Always make sure that grant money is spent as outlined in your grant request or it may result in the funding being taken away or require repayment of funds.