Ministries and faith based organizations frequently ask whether or not grant funding can be part of their funding plan. An equal number of ministries tell me, “oh, no we don’t accept grant funding.” Below is some information to help your organization decide whether or not to integrate grant funding into its funding plan. Note…grant funding should never be considered the only source of funding for an organization. However, it can be one source of funding to help the organization fulfill its mission.
Faith Based Organizations can receive grant funding. Many faith based organizations have made a conscious decision not to accept government grant funding. This decision has been made for numerous reasons, including the separation of church and state, not having a government agency say how programs and services are to be delivered, etc. In the past, it was very difficult for faith-based organizations to compete with other service providers for funds being granted by government agencies.
During the Bush era, the office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives was created in the White House. This office expanded the Charitable Choice Bill which leveled the playing field for faith based organizations. Prior to the bill, it was very difficult for faith based organizations to compete for federal grant funds. Even though many programs and services provided by faith-based organizations are more cost effective and have better outcomes than “non-faith based” programs, it was very difficult to get government funding.
Recognizing that the faith based community has many valuable solutions to social issues facing our society, most of the federal agencies developed an office specifically for faith-based organizations. However, the legal requirements still remain misunderstood by many. What does the bill mean for your organization?
First, it means that your organization will not be disqualified for being a faith-based organization.
Second, it means that your organization can receive government grant dollars. The money received from the government can be used only to support the programs and activities that do not proselytize or have as their sole purpose to spread the gospel. However, if a faith-based organization provides a feeding program for low-income individuals in their community, they would be eligible to receive government grant monies to support their work. However, if the requires that all recipients attend a weekly Bible study, government grant funds would not be appropriate.
If your organization provides a service to meet a social or basic need in the community, you and the board of directors may want to consider government grant funding. As you consider this funding option, know that there is a lot of competition for government grant funding and your proposal will be evaluated in the same way as others. This means that your proposal needs to be the best it possibly can be, all rules need to be followed, etc.
Your organization may still decide that it doesn’t want to accept government grant funds and that is perfectly ok. It is important though, to make an educated choice by understanding the ins and outs of the decision. Do you need some guidance in this area? Feel free to contact us.