Dear Friends and Colleagues,
At this moment it is clear that there is a great amount of need throughout our country. As a development professional, I am tasked with finding the resources that can address these needs and support congregations, communities, and beyond. I lean on our endowments, I look to our major donors, and I count on annual giving to provide the necessary financial support. But you don’t need to be a professional to do this work. As pastors and leaders, I want to encourage you to open your eyes to the many other resources available to our congregations: specifically grant funding opportunities.
Speaking to colleagues throughout the UCC as well as our ecumenical partners, I have heard that grant funding is often overlooked as a means of support for a variety of reasons:
  • A lack of experience writing grant proposals,
  • a belief that there are a limited number of grants available to religious organizations, and
  • simply not having enough time to write a proposal.

However, I am here to encourage you to invest the time to complete at least one grant proposal this year. In addition to the possibility of securing funding, this will give you the foundation you need for submitting subsequent proposals. It gets easier as you go.
To those of you who are in the “no experience” camp, I understand. I interviewed for my current position and was asked to talk about my background in grant writing. Well, I had none. However, I shared that I was willing to listen and learn from program staff. That is just what I did when submitting my first ever grant proposal, which resulted in funding for five years of programming to support our clergy. If I can do it, you can!
We are blessed to have a variety of grant opportunities available through the United Church of Christ. In the Wisconsin Conference, congregations can apply for Catalyst Grants of up to $5,000 to support innovative ideas that expand the ministry and mission of a congregation. Apply for the next round of Catalyst Grants by March 31, 2021, (or begin planning now for the next round, due September 30). You can find more information here. Several association-level grants are also available – check out your association’s website.
The Conference also provides grants for Members-in-Discernment, Ministerial Assistance, and Clergy Student-Debt Reduction. You can learn more about those opportunities by contacting the Associate Conference Minister for your association
The National Setting of the UCC offers grants that range from Ministry Education Scholarships to Leadership Development Scholarships to Program Grants. Please visit The UCC’s Scholarships and Grants page for more information. While some deadlines have passed, use your time now to plan for the next cycle of grants. Others remain open:
  • the Adese Fellowship (faith-based entrepreneurs, July 1),
  • New & Renewing Congregations Grants (expand your congregation’s impact, Sept. 3), and
  • Neighbors in Need Grants (service and justice programs, Sept. 30). 
Additionally, be sure to look outside the United Church of Christ for grant opportunities. You might want to look at options like:
As you look at funding opportunities for your congregation, remember to seek out grants. Grants rarely cover all the expenses of an organization. But they can provide crucial support for innovative programs and projects that meet the criteria of funders beyond your immediate community. 
In closing, I would like to share with you some great work being done through grant funding offered by the United Church of Christ. On June 1, 2020, the national officers freed up $2.6 million for pandemic relief to churches and Conferences — $1.5 million in loans and another $1.1 million in micro grants. The grants funded important work, such as these mental health initiatives in the Indiana Kentucky Conference.  
Begin your own preparation for a grant application by asking, “what meaningful ministry or mission could we do?” A grant may just be the way to make that hope become a reality. 
Yours in Faith,
Lee Gagen
Donor Development Specialist
Southern New England Conference UCC
Catalyst Grant Opportunity
Have a ministry idea or project to impact your community for good? Maybe a Catalyst Grant could bring that idea to life!
A new pool of Catalyst grant funds is available for 2021 to support innovation in your congregation and community. What is innovation, you ask? Catalyst defines innovation as anything that stretches your congregation out of its comfort zone, opens you to new community partnerships, engages your ministry resources in a different way or enlarges your impact in your community. Have an idea you’re not sure about? Email Tisha Brown. She is happy to consult with anyone in the conference who is percolating ideas but might need support in discerning their viability or developing a plan.
Every successful project proposal comes with a Catalyst grant liaison who is available to you throughout your project to provide feedback and support and to connect you with others in the conference doing similar projects. Our desire is to help you succeed in your efforts and harvest what we all can learn from the times when we fall short.

The Catalyst Team looks forward to partnering with you as you explore new ideas in ministry. Contact Tisha Brown today to start a conversation about your innovation ideas and whether or not your project would be eligible for Catalyst funds. Proposals received by March 31, 2021 will be considered for funding in May. Proposals received by September 30, 2021 will be considered in November.
Find out more about the Catalyst Grant process here

Click Here to learn about the projects that have received funding recently.
Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar
Webinar in 6 sessions 
May 19 – June 23, 2021. Wednesdays 5:30 – 7:00 pm CDT
Stewardship in any season can be stressful for pastors. It can feel awkward – “I’m asking people to pay me!” It can feel unspiritual – “Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple!” The Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar for pastors and lay leaders offers an opportunity to explore faithful, practical, and tested ways for promoting generosity in our congregations. We will draw on current research, seek guidance from the wisdom of scripture, and discuss the best practices in church-based fundraising.
This seminar will help pastors and leaders engage generosity as a spiritual practice, and will improve the “bottom line” of your congregation – mission and ministry. Six online sessions run on Wednesdays at 5:30-7:00 pm, from May 19 through June 23, and will be taught by the Rev. Andrew Warner, Wisconsin Conference Director of Development and the Rev. Andy DeBraber, Generosity Officer of the national setting.
Between class sessions, Andy and Andrew will provide materials to help you analyze the culture of your own congregation and learn how to create change. By the end of the seminar, pastors and leaders will be equipped to lead effective fundraising and you will have a strategy to guide your success moving forward.
Be sure to recruit at least a team of two from your congregation for this program. The cost is $150/per person (2 recommended from each church). The Wisconsin Conference will cover $100 per participant if requested. Email Andrew Warner to request.   
Generosity Forward Print Newsletter - another resource for your generosity practices

Did you receive the Generosity Forward Print Newsletter in your mailbox recently? This 8-page quarterly publication provides unique content that highlights the impact of our giving, lifts up ways people can make gifts, and reflects on the practice of giving in our faith. Sharing our stories of giving helps us feel hope as we see the difference we make together. Stories help us feel connected, and give us a deeper understanding of how and why to give. You're sure to find these insights helpful in your own generosity practices. Download the Generosity Forward Print Newsletter HERE.

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Help Others - Donate Now
The General Fund of the Wisconsin Conference helps us connect, support, and resource pastors, leaders, and congregations. Your gift allows the Conference to provide relevant and timely help during the current pandemic and beyond. Donate to the General Fund.

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