For a church organization to go from challenge to results, it must take a number of steps. Sometimes it's possible to find private foundations that grant money to churches for specific purposes. Whether your church organization requires financial assistance for pastoral training or renewal, to cover an emergency budget shortfall or for a construction project, help is available in the form of grants from private foundations.
Lilly Endowment is a private philanthropic foundation based in Indianapolis (lillyendowment.org). Its grants enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in congregations. Church projects in the local community are Lilly's priority funding choice. However, it also supports national and occasional overseas projects. The foundation emphasizes recruitment and education of young church leaders.
For its 2011 National Clergy Renewal Program, Lilly expects to award close to 150 grants of up to $50,000 each to churches. The program is for pastors who wish to take time out for rejuvenation. As much as $15,000 of the grant can be used for congregational expenses — for example, to pay for pulpit fill-ins while the pastor is away.
For churches going through a temporary emergency, the Oldham Little Church Foundation might be the answer. Oldham helps churches with emergencies, aiming to make them stronger. The money Oldham provides can complete a project that will be used by the congregation, thus benefiting the community. One example would be funding a small shortfall in a construction project. Oldham does not provide funds to purchase property. Contact the foundation at 281-565-1776.
Partners for Sacred Places looks for ways to help people who are caring for consecrated sites. It also strives to promote understanding of how these sites sustain communities. For example, in 2009 it worked with community leaders and residents in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to find new uses for three historic churches after five parishes merged into one in the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Partners' website (sacredplaces.org/success_stories) provides various examples of how it has helped with the adaptation of former churches for new uses.
You can learn something about a foundation by looking at a past project that it has funded. One recipient of a Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation (dmdevosfoundation.org) grant is Camp Tall Turf, an organization that serves inner-city youths and single-parent families. Its mandate is to create young leaders through faith-building exercises, and the foundation’s grant provided camping experience and follow-up programs for youths. The Devos Foundation makes most of its grants in Western Michigan.