July 2011

by Jule' Colvin on September 9, 2011

Welcome to this month’s GrantPathways’ newsletter. Each month we endeavor through this newsletter to provide you with valuable information to help you grow and improve your non-profit organization, stay up-to-date on what is happening in the non-profit industry and learn how other non-profits are building their agency’s capacity and gaining greater financial stability.  I hope you enjoy this edition of GrantPathways’ newsletter. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Faith-Based Know How

Are Private Sector Foundations Contributing to Faith-Based Organizations? Analyzing Grants for Faith-Based Social Service

This is a summary of the report, Private-Sector Contributions to Faith-Based Social Service, by Jason Scott, published by the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy. Scott examined nearly 3,000 private foundations to learn about the extent and nature of their giving to faith-based organizations.

Multiple searches of the 2,740 private independent foundations and 230 community foundations with total annual giving of $1,000,000 or more revealed 368 with an expressed interest in funding both social services and religious activities. Most of these entities – 351, or 95 percent – were independent foundations, while 17 were community foundations. The mean annual giving of these foundations was $8,073,704. Because of large annual giving by the top foundations (such as $652,091,000 by the Ford Foundation), this average is highly skewed. The median total annual giving of $2,068,924 is more representative of the typical foundation on this list.

We next examined all the grants awarded by the 100 largest of these faith-friendly foundations, to determine the percentage of their giving that supports faith-based social services. While these foundations indicated an interest in funding both social service and religious activities, the criteria listed above eliminated a large proportion – if not all – of the grants of some foundations (Footnote 12). We focused the rest of our analysis on the 837 grants awarded for faith-based social service by the 50 foundations that ranked the highest in their total annual giving to faith-based social service.

We found that the majority of these foundations are independent; only three are classified as community foundations. Their median annual total philanthropic giving was $8,605,504. In total, these 50 foundations awarded $68,851,811 annually to support faith-based social services. These foundations award an average of 17 grants annually for faith-based social service, and vary substantially in the total amounts they devote to such grants, with median faith-based giving amounting to $652,000 annually. To put this finding in perspective, we calculated faith-based giving as a percentage of each foundation’s total annual giving. We found that the average foundation in this sample devoted 10 percent of its gifts to faith-based social service, while 32 percent (16) devoted more than 10 percent.

Because we coded each grant according to the categories in Table 2 (see below), we were able to analyze the distribution of these grants across social service areas (see Table 3). We found that the foundations awarded the largest amount in the “human services” category – not surprising given the breadth of this category. Many of the grants classified as human services supported multiple service domains. For example, a grant supporting a neighborhood center that contains a food pantry, a daycare center, a community health clinic, and an after-school program would be classified as a human services grant. (A large proportion of the grants awarded to the Salvation Army were classified as human services.) The totals for each category may therefore partly be a reflection of the breadth of activity it includes.

Table 2: Grant Subject Descriptions



AIDS Outreach

Education, medical care, housing and shelter

Child Care

Early childhood education, daycare center

Child Welfare

Foster care, residential/custodial care, abuse/neglect

Civil Rights/Advocacy

Legal services, immigration assistance

Community Development

Economic and neighborhood improvement

Community Organizing

Leadership development, labor advocacy

Community Health Care

Community health clinics, pharmacy, education

Crime/Violence Prevention

Education, youth programs, victim services

Disaster Relief

Financial aid, food, shelter and clothing

Emergency Food Assistance

Food pantry, holiday food assistance

Employment Assistance

Job training, welfare-to-work programs

Family Services

Family planning, pregnancy assistance, adoption

Homeless Services

Transitional housing, shelter, food and clothing

Housing Development

Housing construction, Habitat for Humanity

Human Services

Multiple subject human services, Salvation Army

Mental Health Services

Family counseling, drug and alcohol treatment

Offender/Ex-Offender Services

Prison programs, post-release re-entry services

Parish Nursing

Health education, nursing care, health clinics

Senior Citizen Services

Residential care, nursing services, home aid

Youth Development

After school programs, mentoring, scholarship fund

Table 3: Total Grant Amount By Subject Area


Human Services $ 16,167,320

Community Health Care $ 8,718,820

Youth Development $ 6,673,921

Community Development $ 6,668,538

Homeless Services $ 5,658,789

Senior Citizen Services $ 3,851,889

Child Welfare $ 3,795,174

Parish Nursing $ 2,850,895

Housing Development $ 2,002,409

Offender/Ex-Offender Services $ 1,963,196

Family Services $ 1,869,827

Crime/Violence Prevention $ 1,562,500

Mental Health Services $ 1,470,224

Child Care $ 1,438,698

Community Organizing $ 1,156,383

AIDS Outreach $ 1,067,528

Civil Rights/Advocacy $ 752,500

Employment Assistance $ 653,200

Disaster Relief $ 325,000

Emergency Food Assistance $ 205,000

Non-Profit Know How

If you are currently or are thinking of entering into the grant seeking arena, this article is a must read!  Successful grant seekers need to think not only of their agency needs, but about the goals and needs of the grant source agency.  The points below will help you to perfect your grant seeking strategy!

Common Questions Grant Reviewers Ask About Proposals

  • Does this project fit funding guidelines and funding areas?
  • What is the importance of this project?
  • Who is affected by this project?
  • Is this project realistic?
  • Are the project goals and objectives realistic?
  • Can the timeline be met?
  • Is the submitting organization capable committed to the project?
  • Is the submitting organization capable of carrying out the project?
  • Does this project duplicate others in the field?
  • If there is duplication, why is this project stronger?
  • Is the staff of the organization capable and accountable?
  • Is the cost of this project justified and realistic?
  • What is the history of the organization; has it shown success?
  • Will this project be continued when the money is gone?
  • Is there collaboration involved in the project?
  • Do the submitters have external support?
  • Is this an all-or-none type of project, or can we choose to fund portions of it?
  • Is this a solid investment for our organization or another?
  • Is the submitting organization able to receive a grant?
  • Does the submitting organization need help in further developing the idea or has it been done well?
  • Are there any overlooked aspects of the project that the submitting organization should be made aware of?

·         (Adapted from Getting the Most Out of Your Project and Proposal: A Guide From Beginning to End,by Jamie Levy (J.D. Levy and Associates, 1998). Used with permission.)

GrantPathways helps our clients to be sure they are addressing these issues.  Also, these points are covered in our Keys to Winning Grants Workshop coming up on July 21st!

GrantPathways Services

Our staff would love to have the opportunity to discuss the capacity building needs of your agency.  In addition to writing winning proposals, Grantpathways offers expertise in a wide range of non-profit management services. Our staff conducts in-depth research using state of the art systems along with providing one-on-one leadership consultation, non-profit management assistance, strategic planning, board training and grant management assistance. Give us a call or email us today!


Jule’ Colvin

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