I have always been fascinated by the history and architecture of rural churches. They are not only places of worship but also cultural and social hubs for many communities. I was thrilled to learn that grants are available for restoring and preserving these valuable heritage sites.
In this post, I will share with you my personal experience of applying for and receiving help from grants for rural churches and offer some tips and advice on how to do the same.
Grants For Rural Churches: The Five Kinds
Rural churches are often overlooked and underfunded in their efforts to serve their communities and spread the gospel. They face many challenges, such as aging buildings, declining membership, limited resources, and isolation.
To relieve them of their financial misery, as many as 10 different kinds of grants are offered to help them revitalize different areas relating to the church’s functioning. Here’s a list of grants for rural churches that can help you begin your journey:
1. Building and Renovation Grants
Building and renovation grants for rural churches are essential for maintaining and enhancing the physical structures that serve as the heart of these communities. These grants can support various projects, such as repairs, improvements, and new constructions, to ensure the continued viability and beauty of rural churches. Here’s a list of useful grants for rural churches:
- Mustard Seed Foundation: The Mustard Seed Foundation provides seed funding through matching grants for start-up projects of local churches in the largest urban centers of the world. They focus on innovative approaches to church-based ministries and require financial investment from the church itself for consideration.
- The Duke Endowment: The organization helps rural churches, especially United Methodist Churches in North Carolina, use their assets for community ministry and work with their neighbors to create positive change.
- National Fund for Sacred Places: A collaboration between Partners for Sacred Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this fund offers planning grants, technical assistance, and capital grants of up to $250,000 to help congregations restore and preserve historic places of worship.
- Save America’s Treasures: They provide grants for renovation projects on churches and other historical landmarks and buildings across the United States. The maximum grant amount is $700,000; recipients must match awards dollar for dollar.
2. Community Outreach and Service Projects
Churches often organize food drives, relief projects, and other community outreach projects for which they require funds. Funding for such programs that serve the community, such as food banks, homeless shelters, youth programs, and health services, is offered by the below-mentioned organizations:
- Foundation for Evangelism Grants: The organization offers grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to small and medium-sized church congregations or clusters of churches working together in a Wesleyan-tradition denomination. Eligible churches include those with 1–99 persons in worship, 100–250 persons in worship, or a cluster of small congregations working together.
- RAFI: They fund rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina to purchase food from local farmers of color to distribute in their communities. This funding supports activities like CSA shares, stipends for lay leaders, transportation costs, and comprehensive training for faith leaders.
3. Disaster Relief and Emergency Funds
Non-profits offer assistance for churches affected by natural disasters or provide emergency services to the community in times of crisis. Here are 3 organizations that you can seek help from in case of emergencies:
- FEMA Disaster Aid for Non-Profit Organizations: This program provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance specifically for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities of private, non-profit organizations, which includes churches.
- Catholic Charities USA Disaster Relief: As the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, Catholic Charities USA provides disaster response services. Their disaster response team, along with experts at member agencies, mobilizes quickly to aid those experiencing or recovering from disasters.
- USDA Rural Development Disaster Assistance: This is one of the grants for rural churches that is vital for rural communities affected by crises and disasters. It offers essential support to homeowners, businesses, and communities to aid in their recovery and rebuilding processes, especially in President-declared disaster areas.
These grants also act as renovation grants, which are usually found under the title of grants to build churches. So, it is important to use the right words to get exactly what you need.
4. Health and Wellness Programs
Funding for health-related initiatives, such as mental health support services, addiction recovery programs, and health education, is offered by the below-stated programs:
- SAMHSA Funding Programs: Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these programs focus on health and wellness to help rural communities address substance use disorders (SUDs) and related issues. This initiative is detailed on the Rural Community Toolbox website.
- HRSA Rural Community Programs: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers community-based grant programs that address unique health care challenges in rural areas and increase access to care. These programs often use or adapt evidence-based models of care in collaboration with community networks or consortiums.
- BUILD Grants Program: This program offers financial support ranging from $5,000 to $7,500 for community projects that aim to transform the health and well-being of residents. It focuses on building a better community with a focus on rural health.
5. Social Justice and Advocacy
Grants for rural churches that offer funding social justice and advocacy are offered by numerous organizations when the applicants are addressing issues like poverty, inequality, and human rights. Here are 3 of the most popular programs that you can apply for:
- DART (Direct Action Research Training) Center: DART is a national network of faith-based community advocacy organizations, with affiliates in nine states. The DART-affiliated organizations, like JUMP and Justice Matters, engage communities to identify local issues, research solutions, and advocate for more just communities.
- The Episcopal Church: They partner with the Poor People’s Campaign to advocate for social change within systems of racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy. They also focus on Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), emphasizing community-driven change and growth and providing various resources and training modules for social and community change.
- Sojourners: An ecumenical Christian media and advocacy organization, Sojourners works towards social and racial justice. Their campaigns focus on voter and democracy protection, immigration rights, just policing, economic justice, gender justice, peacebuilding, and more.
Organizations Offering Grants For Rural Churches
Many rural churches face challenges such as aging buildings, declining congregations, and limited resources. Some organizations offer grants for rural churches to help them address these issues and sustain their ministries. These grants can support various projects, such as renovation, outreach, leadership development, and community engagement.
- Abell-Hanger Foundation
- Ambrose Monell Foundation
- American Family Foundation
- Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
- Asbury-Warren Foundation – Appalachia Region
- Baptist Community Ministries
- Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation
- Crowell Trust – Colorado
- DEW Foundation – Education, Arts, Religion, Environment
- Eustace Foundation – Northeastern United States
- Dewan Foundation
- Fund for Theological Education
- Frank E. Clark Charitable Trust
- Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program
- Hope Christian Community Foundation
People Also Ask
Applying for grants as a rural church can be daunting, so here are the three most frequently asked questions related to grants for rural churches:
What are some of the challenges of applying for grants for rural churches?
Grants can be competitive, require extensive documentation, and have specific eligibility criteria and deadlines.
What are some of the sources of grants for rural churches?
Some resources offering grants for rural churches are the Center for Congregations, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Rural Church Network.
What are the eligibility criteria for grants for rural churches?
Rural churches must demonstrate a need for financial assistance, have a clear plan for how the grant funds will be used, and have a history of good stewardship and community engagement.
The Bottom Line
Grants for rural churches are a valuable resource for preserving the historical and cultural heritage of these communities. Applying for these grants can be challenging and time-consuming, so it is important to do your research, plan ahead, and seek professional guidance if needed.