A grant for a church van will generally fall into one of two categories; an operating grant, which funds daily costs (salaries, utilities, insurance) and projects, or a special funding grant, which covers a specific item, such as a vehicle. Typically, a grant could cover the entire cost of the vehicle, whereas financing a vehicle incurs a debt.
Generally, grants are awarded to 501(c)3 organizations, which are non-profit organizations as designated by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Churches are generally covered by this status. A grant is considered a donation and may be a tax deduction to the donor. Grants do not have to be repaid.
Grant money is normally available from both the public (government) and private (businesses and foundations) sectors. The requestor will generally need to write a report stating the need, the cost and an assurance that the money will be used as requested. Philanthropic organizations are generally set up to provide funding to charitable organizations.
Research several resources to find a foundation that funds grants for vehicles. Foundationcenter.org is one such resource. It also provides training on grant writing. Churchgrants.org provides links to various grantors and includes information on grant writing. Visit a library and peruse books and online research databases. Check the foundation’s specific requirements; in some cases, you may submit to only one foundation at a time.
Writing and Submitting
Having identified the need (the van) and completed your research, write the proposal, following the format required by the foundation. (Consider hiring a grant writer to prepare your request or contact a regional church office for help.) Be specific in the vehicle request. If you want a 15-passenger Ford van, state this in the proposal. Insurance and vehicle maintenance are often operating expenses. If you wish to include these in the proposal, consider making them standalone, removable requests. Submit the finished proposal to the foundation.
It could take from a few weeks to several months to hear whether your church will receive the grant. If you do receive the grant, you might be required to provide a report or follow-up ensuring the donor that the funds were used appropriately. If you do not receive the grant, be sure to write a thank-you letter to the foundation. Should all your efforts fail, consider contacting an institution such as Ziegler (Ziegler.com), which provides loan solutions.