Q What is a Resource Grant?
A A Resource Grant helps Indiana congregations pay for resources. The grants program is one of three primary services the Center for Congregations offers Indiana congregations; the other two are resource consulting and education programs. The goal of the Center for Congregations’ Resource Grants program is to help Indiana congregations find and use the best resources. A Resource Grant develops from a conversation between a Center staff person and a congregational representative about a resource need.
Q Are we competing against other congregations?
A No, not in the Resource Grant program. However, the Center never guarantees a grant. All grants need to go through the process described in this document. We will let you know as early in the process as possible about grant eligibility and whether any particular item is not eligible for funding.
Q What is the purpose of a Resource Grant?
A The purpose is to increase your congregation’s capacity to accomplish a new goal. A resource grant needs a specific, focused topic. Multiple unrelated issues cannot be bundled in a single grant. This grant program is similar to a scholarship program. The grant provides funding to allow your congregation to learn and leverage new learnings as an asset. The Center hopes that through a Resource Grant, your congregation will experience an outside resource that raises your ability to accomplish a goal, ultimately furthering your congregation’s mission and values.
Q What do Resource Grants fund?
A The Resource Grants program pays for related resources within a single project, such as computer software, architects, fundraising consultants, strategic planning consultants, attendance at educational workshops, and many other resources. A grant may fund more than one resource, but those resources must be thematically related and support the same project. The best way to find out if your project or idea is eligible for a Resource Grant is to contact a Center for Congregations resource consultant. To be connected with a resource consultant, follow this link to find the office nearest you (http://centerforcongregations.org/page/contact-information) or call 866-307-2381.
Q How much can we receive from Resource Grants?
A Resource Grants are $1 for $1 matching grants to pay for the cost of outside resources of up to $15,000. A congregation can receive one Resource Grant per year.
Q How often can a congregation apply for a grant?
A Your congregation can apply for and, if the way is clear, receive approval for one Resource Grant per calendar year (January through December). In order to start a Resource Grant application process, you need to have completed all final reports for any previous grants.
Q How long does a grant project last once funds are awarded?
A The work with and total payment to any funded resource needs to be completed within a year of the date the grant is awarded. Of course, projects can take less than a year.
Q When can I start work or engage the funded resource?
A This is an important question. Do not start work or sign a contract with a potentially fundable resource until your grant has been approved. You will often need a proposal or a contract from a chosen resource to complete the grant. But do not sign the contract or proposal or start the work until grant approval.
Q Do “in-kind” contributions, such as materials or volunteer labor, count for our part of the match?
A No, a congregation’s match must be in dollars.
Q How does the Resource Grant process work?
A There are six steps:
- Contact the Center for Congregations (follow this link to find the office nearest you http://centerforcongregations.org/page/contact-information or call 866-307-2381) and speak with a resource consultant to arrange an appointment. If, after conversation, your idea appears to fit the Resource Grant criteria, you would continue to the next step of the process.
- The resource consultant will give you an electronic copy of the application form and discuss it with you.
- You submit an electronic draft of the application to your resource consultant.
- He or she reviews your draft and offers suggestions for strengthening the proposal. Steps 3 and 4 may be repeated a number of times. We encourage you to stay in touch with your resource consultant throughout this process. She or he will be happy to work with you to ensure a strong application.
- When your resource consultant deems the application ready for submission, you will be asked to submit a final hard copy with signatures and all supporting documents. For planning purposes, please note that the material must be received by the last day of the month before you wish to have your grant application formally considered. Decisions on grants are made the third Tuesday of each month, except December.
- You will be informed of your grant status within two days of the grants committee meeting. An official letter of agreement will be issued. When the Center receives fully signed copies of that letter, the grant funds will be released to your congregation in the form of a check. The Center provides its portion in one lump sum at the beginning of the project’s year timeline. The congregation has one year to raise its portion and complete the project.
Q How long does this process take?
A It depends on the nature of the grant. The Center will not rush a grant to meet a deadline. Your congregation will need to follow each step of the process. However, the Grants Committee meets every month except December, which is meant to encourage flexibility for the congregation.
Q Who is eligible for a Resource Grant?
A An Indiana congregation is eligible if it can show:
- how the request fits the congregation’s mission or priorities.
- how the resource and project will strengthen the congregation’s mission and work into the future.
- that a variety of congregational leaders (clergy, staff, laity) within the congregation have talked about this project and agree that it is a need.
- that the completed grant application is endorsed by the senior clergy leader and the chair of the congregation’s governing board or council.
- how it intends to provide matching funds.
- proof of its IRS tax-exempt status.
- that it is considered a congregation according to the IRS.
Q Are there items a Resource Grant does not fund?
A Yes. Grant funds cannot be used for:
- private parochial schools run by the congregation.
- computer hardware or audio/visual equipment, musical equipment, office equipment, officeand program supplies (e.g. staplers, paper, balloons, decorations, etc.).
- salaries or payments to congregational staff members or potential staff members.
- meals or refreshments unless incurred by a congregation group en route to a workshop or at an off-site retreat.
- hosting conferences or events targeted to the general public vs. congregation members.
- facility rental, printing, copies of media, advertising, postage.
- operating funds, capital expenses, fund drives (the Grants do cover consultant fees to help raise funds).
- resources connected to programs, like education events, for which your congregation will charge or receive a profit.
- annually recurring projects or expenses, such as Vacation Bible School and Sunday school curriculum, repeated attendance at a particular conference, annual music license fees.
- professional development that exclusively benefits staff.
- mission trips.
- current projects and/or projects previously paid for.
- other resources as determined by the Center.
Q Is my congregation allowed to choose the resources for our grant?
A Yes. Your congregation is best positioned to decide what will fit your needs. However, the Center does want to be in a resource consulting relationship with your congregation. After working with more than 3,500 congregations in Indiana, we have developed expertise in finding resources and making helpful recommendations. Nonetheless, it is ultimately your congregation’s decision which resources to use. It is important that the funded resource is not a staff member of your congregation. Other boundaries by the Center may apply. For example, there may be occasions when the Center not only recommends, but requires your congregation to seek bids from multiple vendors.
Q What follow-up grant reporting does the Center for Congregations require?
A Each congregation receiving a Resource Grant agrees to send the Center for Congregations a quarterly report and a final report of their project within one year of the date the grant was awarded. The final report must include a complete financial report. All these reports are filed on-line. Reporting forms will be made available. We do not routinely require a congregation to provide receipts of grant eligible expenses. However, the Center may request verification for all or a portion of the grant’s eligible expenses. Please note: Failure to submit an acceptable final report will jeopardize a congregation’s ability to be considered for future grants.
To read about various and creative ways congregations have participated in the Center’s Resource Grant Program, please go to our website: https://www.centerforcongregations.org/resources/resource-category/center-publications/congregational-stories.
Q How can a congregation verify proof of IRS tax-exempt status in order to receive a Resource Grant?
A A congregation’s tax-exempt status is verified by providing one of the following:
- A copy of the IRS letter designating the congregation’s 501(c)(3) status;
- A copy of your denomination’s IRS group 501(c)(3) designation with an accompanying copy of your denominational directory listing your congregation;
- An attorney’s letter.
Depending on which verification you use, the Center may require additional supporting material.
Please note: an Indiana Department of Revenue Sales Tax Exemption certificate does not meet the proof of tax-exempt status.