As you embark on a new year, you may be wondering how to better keep your organization in the black, without sacrificing the ministry that's so important to your community. Consider the following funding avenues, that you may not have considered before.
Funding Options for Non-Profit Organizations
Broadly speaking, there are three categories of funding your non-profit endeavor: funding that comes from individuals, businesses, and granting organizations.
Individual Donations - While you might think about recurring or one time contributions, you may also have experience doing a capital campaign or annual pledge drive. Often, non-profits are able to supplement their budgets through fundraisers, like golf tournaments or banquets with auctions or raffles. It's also possible to take a crowdfunding approach to particular projects or to develop a planned giving program.
Business Donations - Like many individuals, businesses are often in need of tax credits and may be open to providing charitable donations. This might look like a check, or in-kind donations of particular products. Depending on your organization, there may even be an opportunity to facilitate corporate sponsorships.
Grants - In addition to foundations, grants may be available from your denomination. If you are heavily involved in the local community, you may be eligible for funds from agencies like the health department or benefit from efficiency based incentives from your utility provide. On a federal level, there are many grant programs that non-profit, community-based organizations may be eligible for, such as SAMHSA, HHS, ED, DOJ, AmeriCorps, OJJDP, NIMH, ACF, and FEMA.
Potential Loans for Non-Profit Ministries
If grants or donations aren't available to you, another option might be exploring a loan.
Conventional Bank Loans - These are getting harder and harder to come by, since ministries generally do not have a strong financial history, big enough collateral, and predictable cash flow/bank balance.
Denominational Loans - If you are affiliated with a denomination, you might find an easier path to getting a loan, but be aware these will likely still be limited. While they might help with the purchase of some equipment or a small renovation, they are unlikely to meet the demands of a new construction project.
Federal Financing - There are actually some federal programs that provide financing to non-profit, community based organizations, depending on the nature of your project. This might include funds from HUD or USDA Rural Development. However, there are high requirements for these programs and they are quite competitive.
Private Placement/Unregistered Offering - If you have a small group of people (less than 35) that are interested in providing a loan toward your project, it might be possible to create a securities offering for your project.
Foundation Program Related Investments - PRIs are becoming a bit more common but are still fairly limited compared to the prevalence of Foundation's grant programs. That said, it is worth looking into.
Additional Approaches to Balance the Budget
While one of your first moves toward sustainability should be ensuring you aren't wasting any money needlessly (review credit card and bank statements for unnecessary expenses, sales tax refunds, etc.), you are likely to also benefit from utilizing volunteer labor. That said, it's sometimes more cost-efficient to hire someone for a particular job.
In general, you may operate based on program fees or tuition, or offset your expenses by renting or leasing part of your space. This could even include leasing water rights, renting your parking lot, and so much more. If you have excess land, this could also be sold or developed to secure additional funding, but it's definitely something you want to be careful about since there are many brokers out there looking to take advantage of churches who don't understand the value of their land.
Funding non-profit ministry is no simple task, and it's certainly not something most pastors were trained to do. But there are folks out there who can help, who have been in your shoes and successfully navigated traditional and unique funding avenues. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today if you want to brainstorm the best way forward for your Christian organization.