FAQ: Center for Congregations Grants

If a church that partners with Church Doctor Ministries is including lay leaders or church members in the process and training, nearly all the Church Doctor Ministries services can be worked into a Center for Congregations grant.

What is a resource grant from Center for Congregations?

Center for Congregations is funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Its mission is to strengthen Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities. One way of four ways it accomplishes this mission is through a grant program. The other three ways are through resource consulting, education programs, and the Congregational Resource Guide (CRG).

A Resource Grant is a matching grant of up to $15,000 for Indiana congregations. Although congregations do not compete against each other for this grant, they must follow specific guidelines to be eligible and to apply.

What guidelines do we need to follow?
  1. Resource-funded activities need to be completed within no more than a year of the date the grant was awarded.
  2. 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.
  3. A congregation matching contributions cannot use “in-kind” contributions, such as materials or volunteer labor. The matching funds must be in dollars.
  4. Follow-up grant reporting is required. When a congregation receives a Resource Grant, they must agree to send the Center for Congregations a quarterly report and a final report of the 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 online. Reporting forms will be made available.  The Center for Congregations does not routinely require that you provide receipts of grant-eligible expenses. However, the Center may request verification for all or a portion of your grant’s eligible expenses. Please note: Failure to submit an acceptable final report will jeopardize your congregation’s ability to be considered for future grants.
  5. Tax-exempt status must be verified by providing one of the following:
    • A copy of the IRS letter designating your 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
    • Confirmation of Nonprofit Status form

NOTE: An Indiana Department of Revenue Sales Tax Exemption certificate does not meet the proof of tax-exempt status. Depending on which verification is used, the Center may require additional supporting material.

What can we use grant funds for?
  • Workshops or conferences for lay-leader development that benefit the congregation (i.e., volunteers/board members), in conjunction with the church staff
  • Consulting, survey, and assessment fees to determine church health and develop a plan to make it healthier
  • “Special Focus Consultations” that result from church health assessment
What can grant funds NOT be used for?
  • Private or parochial schools run by the congregation
  • Computer hardware or audio/visual equipment, musical equipment, office equipment, office and program supplies (e.g. staplers, paper, balloons, decorations, etc.)
  • Salaries or payments to congregational staff members or potential staff members
  • Hosting conferences or events targeted to the general public (rather than only congregation members)
  • 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
What is the process to apply for a Center for Congregations resource grant?
  1. Contact the Center for Congregations. Find the office nearest you by visiting this link or call 866-307-2381 and speak with a resource consultant to arrange an appointment. If, after the conversation, your idea appears to fit the Resource Grant criteria, you will continue to the next step of the process. 
  2. The resource consultant will give you the grant application form and discuss it with you.  
  3. You submit a draft of the application to your resource consultant.
  4. 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. He or she will be happy to work with you to ensure a strong application.
  5. When your resource consultant deems the application ready for submission, you will be asked to submit a final copy with signatures and all supporting documents. Please note that the material must be received by the first day of the month in which you wish to have your grant application formally considered. Decisions on grants are made on the third Tuesday of each month, except in December.
  6. 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 timeline. Your congregation has one year to raise your portion and complete the project.

Have questions? I'm here to help!

Contact Tracee Swank
Ministry Leader
Phone: 800.626.8515
Email: tracee@churchdoctor.org

It takes a 2-minute phone call to see if your church would qualify for a $15,000 grant!

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