Broadly speaking grant proposal writing is a skill of persuasive writing, however, when it come to faith-based organisations, Christian ministries and churches you end up having a different set of challenges.
Like any other non-profits, they tend to give grant writing proposal as one time shoot and see approach. Will this haphazard approach solve funding problems of faith-based organisations?
Though grant proposal writing is not hard, certainly it is specific and strategic. Can we think of strategically addressing some of these common challenges of faith-based grant proposal writing? Here we go:
1. Missing Grant Development Strategy: Often faith is abuse than use. Real biblical faith is not disassociation of work, but working in accord with your belief. Missing grant strategy shows poor planning and inadequate preparation. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty”.-Proverbs 21:5 (NLT)
What to do Instead: Identify annual and immediate funding needs of your organisation. Optimise fundraising efforts, with basic grant development strategy involving planning, investment and leadership support for all the current programs and activities, including new expansions.
2. Under Developed Human Resources: Being a faith-based organisation, relying on spiritual strengths is natural. Does this mean, developing human resources is futile and counts as worldliness of corporate culture? Numerous religious groups, just trust on their spiritual strength neglecting development of fundraising workforce.
What to do Instead: Understand that grant writing is not quick money, or kind of miracle from heaven to pull you from financial crises ( Though God sometimes does, this is not natural course). Make a long-term strategy and investment plan with your organisation board and leadership team. Find key fundraising personals and train them in overall fundraising plan. It is critical to invest time and resources to develop them.
“ But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if these is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running our of money, and then everyone would laugh at you”.- Luke 14: 28-29 (NLT).
3. Lack of Mentorship: I see this often happening in my context, as I serve in North India, connecting to over 80 independent little know ministries. Many of these are functionally independent with no mentorship. But be cautious, there is always a person that sees, you don’t see and knows that you don’t know.
What to do Instead: Get used to the culture of mentorship. In India, we tend to go with age. Age shouldn’t be determining factor; even younger people can provide quality mentorship if you are willing to listen. Find someone experienced and leverage on it to your advantage.
“God has given each of you’re a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another”-1Peter 4:10 (NLT)
4.Diversify You Funding Funnels: Grant proposal writing is neither the only way to your funding source nor an answer to your organisations growing needs. Many faith-based groups tend to stick with few known pro-Christian donor agencies and keep dropping grant proposals year after year expecting them to fund continuously.
What to Do Instead: Strategically expand your funding funnels. Find other sources such as; individual or major contributors, special occasions or events, entrepreneurial income ( vai micro or macro business), etc. Look at this scripture and think about it.
“But divide your investments among many places for you do not know what risks might lie ahead”.- Ecclesiastes 11:2 (NLT)
5.Undocumented Success Stories: I often see faith-based organisations as unsung heroes. Nature of serving and giving is sacrificial, based on the teaching of Christ himself. At once instance President Geroge Bush said: “Government can hand out money, but what it cannot do is put hope in people’s’ heart or a sense of purpose in people’s life“. Just find some time and talk to your nearby faith-based organisation, they will tell you countless success stories, achieved through their services. But the sad part is, often such stories are undocumented.
What to do Instead: Success stories speak God’ faithfulness accomplished through His faithful people. Don’t you think such stories are worth of documentation? Will not such stories motivate donors to participate in similar activities and share their resources. Then what stops you from documenting. Take a firm decision and record all possible success stories. Not just for the sake of fundraising ( eventually they will, though) but to motivate and give a chance to your future donors to participate with you. These documents will strengthen your grant proposal writing process. As a faith-based organisation, are you still wondering why to record your stories, then read this scripture?
“In my first book, I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit”- Acts 1:1 (NLT)
Recommended for further reading, if you are a Faith-based organisation.
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