Grant Services - Advice and Tips

Grants for Religious Organizations

Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 14:12 PM / by Mary Ross

’Tis the season for giving; with the introduction of “Giving Tuesday” after “religious.jpgBlack Friday” it looks as though the giving spirit continues to be a central aspect of a season fostered by religious observance.  For years, foundations shied away from supporting religiously oriented groups. But more recently many grant-givers are ready and willing to support religious organizations, provided that no one is excluded from participating in a funded program based on faith.

In fact, many grant givers like to see faith-based organizations working hand in hand with government agencies and secular non-profits to reach a common goal. To read more about how some states are encouraging religious and secular groups to work together, check out:

Many faiths are eligible for awards. We’ve chosen a few examples here, not to exclude the other eligible religions, but to provide examples of the types of funding available.

Merry Christmas!

The Lilly Endowment offers grants in community development, education, and religion. A family foundation, the Lilly Endowment operates to support both Christian and secular initiatives. The founders state that giving back to Christian organizations is an important part of what they do because they believe “that being a member of a religious congregation [is] an important part of a citizen's life.” Although the foundation gives about 70% of their grants to proposals from Indiana, their home state, anyone can apply. Those interested should first submit a letter of interest explaining their organization, project, and needs. These letters must be delivered in hard-copy through land mail; no electronic submissions will be considered. An application form can be found on their website. Grant proposals are reviewed in March, June, September, November, and December, and the process takes three to six months. Now is the time to write your proposal letter for the March review if you want your program funded for Christmas 2016. can help you with this process.

The Dale and Edna Walsh Foundation, now coined as the DEW Foundation, is looking for organizations with “clear vision and capabilities to be successful.” Two organizations that DEW is currently championing are Convoy of Hope (a faith-based organization helping people in need across the nation) and Animal Ark (a sanctuary for non-releasable wildlife). Reviewing past organization that have been awarded grants will help direct your organization’s letter since the DEW Foundation likes to support programs that their team has an active interest in. You should start by submitting a letter of inquiry (LOI) to the foundation. All LOIs must be submitted on-line before September 1st. Upon receipt of the LOI the foundation will send instructions for the formal application process. The DEW foundation does accept LOI from tax-exempt organizations without a 501(c)(3) designation, such as schools, libraries, and tribes. Take a look at their website to find out more about this giving foundation.      

Happy Hanukah

The Blaustein Philanthropic Group is an assembly of four foundations “united by their roots in Jewish tradition, and by their concern for social justice and equality of opportunity.” Although working together, each of these four foundations has a particular mission; one supports social justice, another education, a third health care, and the fourth human services. Although all four support each of these, be sure to read up on the goals of each before submitting your proposal to one specific foundation. Each foundation makes its own decisions on awards. These foundations do not require an LOI before the application, and you can submit your application to more than one foundation. Find out what your proposal should include by reviewing their “proposal guidelines” on their website.    

Operating worldwide, AVI CHAI offers funding specifically to advance Jewish people and the Jewish religion. Their stated mission is twofold: “To encourage those of the Jewish faith towards greater commitment to Jewish observance and lifestyle by increasing their understanding, appreciation and practice of Jewish traditions, customs and laws, and to encourage mutual understanding and sensitivity among Jews of different religious backgrounds and commitments to observance.” Capacity building, Jewish schools and camps, and research projects have all been funded through AVI CHAI. The foundation stresses that both of its set mission statements must be present in any organization it funds. Look at a list of past programs that have been funded before submitting your own grant proposal.

Happy Kwanzaa

Though Kwanzaa is built more on cultural than religious traditions, faith is one of the seven principles for the seven days of Kwanzaa (the others: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, and creativity). In any event, Kwanzaa is seasonal, and Kwanzaa events are eligible for grant funding.

Are you operating in Minnesota? If so, take a look at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council grants. Although specifically interested in funding community art programs, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council funded the community Kwanzaa event at the Minnesota History Center. If you are not from Minnesota, take a closer look at the funding offered for art programs in your area. You may find that, like this foundation, the local art education grants are willing to look at your community Kwanzaa event.

For Brooklyn, consider:

For New York State:



Additional Foundations Supporting Religious Groups

Lastly, the Bank of American Philanthropic Solutions website offers a list of 19 foundations with a history of giving to religious organizations. Some of the listed foundations only give to specific states or regions, so check the list to see if your area can apply.


We can help you find lots more opportunities with our search experience and subscriptions to many grant database services. Contact to see how we can find the grant you need and work with you to create an application that attracts those funds.


Photo Credit: Andy Mangold

Topics: grants, religious grants, grants for religious causes, grants for specific populations

Mary Ross

Written by Mary Ross

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