20 Most Generous Grant Making Foundations for Christian Organizations
Written by Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman
The world of grantmaking foundations is constantly changing. A small foundation launched in 2016 can grow to a be an influential and significant foundation in just a few years. Likewise, a very large foundation today, may not even exist in five years. For this reason, we constantly emphasize the importance of foundation research. From the original 2010 version of this list of 20 foundations, only six foundations are still ranked as top twenty grant makers. That means 14 of the foundations listed below are NEW to this list.
The question of what foundations to turn to for funding is one that Christian ministries and churches ponder all the time. There are of course various factors to consider. The degree of compatibility between your mission and the aims of a foundation remains the most important consideration. But, it helps to know which foundations are giving the most, which have the greatest assets, which accept unsolicited applications – along with knowing a little about their overall purpose, the kinds of Christian organizations they fund, and the kinds of programs that interest them.
The following are the top 20 grant funding sources that are either Christian or who have a strong preference for funding Christian organizations.
1. The National Christian Foundation (NCF) of Alpharetta, Georgia, provides the most funds of all the Christian foundations. Seeking to further the gospel of Jesus Christ nationwide, they have over $1.5 billion in assets and over $1 billion annually in new income. This is largely a donor advised fund, a charitable giving vehicle administered by a third party and created for the purpose of managing charitable donations on behalf of an organization, family, or individual. A donor-advised fund offers an easy-to-establish, low cost, flexible charitable giving vehicle as an alternative to direct giving or creating a private foundation. NCF advises individuals and families on planned giving and asset giving (stocks, real estate, business interests, restricted securities) and shows how to balance income needs and estate planning goals. Website: www.nationalchristian.com
2. The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust seeks to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to nonprofit organizations that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Website: www.murdock-trust.org
3. The Rees-Jones Foundation, a family foundation based in Dallas, Texas, funds “programs that help improve the quality of life for the underserved of north Texas.” It provides employee/matching gifts and funds capital campaigns, general operations, management and program development, and scholarship funds. It supports churches that seek to relieve hunger, and it provides medical care for the mentally and physically disabled, educational opportunities for youth, and affordable housing, shelter, and spiritual development for those left behind. Website: www.rees-jonesfoundation.org
4. The J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation, Inc., a Delaware non-profit corporation, was formed in 1948 by Mr. John E. Mabee and his wife, Lottie E. Mabee, with its office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As stated in its charter, the purposes of the Foundation are to aid Christian religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning, hospitals and other organizations of a general charitable nature. The foundation does not respond to unsolicited applications for funding. Website: www.mabeefoundation.com
5. The Barnabas Foundation is a foundation from Tinley Park, Illinois, that supports its nearly 200 member Christian ministries through planned giving and estate planning. Its participating churches include Legacy Churches, Good Steward Ministry Churches, Member Asset Management Churches, Member Churches. It also offers stewardship education as well as development programs that facilitate stewardship “based on God’s ownership of all gifts.” Website: www.barnabasfoundation.com
6. The Maclellan Foundation is a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based independent foundation. It gives internationally and nationally, with an emphasis on Chattanooga. It is the largest of a group of four family foundations that are committed to “fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ through strategic giving.” The foundation provides financial and leadership training to local organizations that enhance the spiritual wellbeing of the Commission by working “to extend the Kingdom of God to every tribe, nation, person, and tongue.” Toward that end, the foundation offers consulting services, equipment, general/operating support, program development and evaluation, and seed money to Christian organizations. Website: www.maclellan.net
7. The Lilly Endowment of Indiana is best known for the Clergy Renewal Program and the Christian Theological Seminary. J. K. Lilly, Sr., who founded Lilly Endowment Inc. in 1937 with his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., encouraged leadership that was conservatively progressive: an approach that valued tradition and the lessons it offered, while seeking continuous improvement. During 2015 the Endowment paid grants totaling $435.5 million supporting the causes of community development, education and religion. Website: www.lillyendowment.org
8. The Stewardship Foundation provides resources to Christ-centered organizations that share their faith in Jesus in word and deed with others throughout the world. They serve the poor, the marginalized, the disadvantaged and those who lack faith in Jesus Christ in the Puget Sound Region of the United States and in the Developing World. They target programs addressing Christian leadership, poverty, reconciliation and justice, relational evangelism and discipleship, and children at risk. Website: www.stewardshipfdn.org
9. C.I.O.S., an abbreviation for Christ Is Our Salvation, is a foundation from Waco, Texas. The foundation was granted charitable status in 1987 and reported assets of $110 million in 2015. The foundation is supported entirely by the Piper family and Piper Industries and does not respond to unsolicited applications for funding. No Website.
10. The Crowell Trust, founded in 1927, is dedicated to the teaching and active extension of the doctrines of Evangelical Christianity through approved grants to qualified organizations. The trust seeks to encourage and enhance evangelism and church planting among indigenous and cross-cultural populations and to demonstrate Christ’s love to the world through the integration of mercy and truth; delivering human resources and spiritual care. Website: www.crowelltrust.org
11. The Koch Foundation is international in scope and prioritizes on areas and populations most in need of a Catholic presence. The Koch Foundation was established in 1979 by Carl and Paula Koch to fund evangelization activities throughout the world. Since then, it has become one of the largest Catholic foundations in the United States. The mission is built on the Koch’s vision “to strengthen and propagate the Roman Catholic faith by providing grant support for a wide variety of evangelization efforts.” Website: www.thekochfoundation.org
12. The Arthur S Demoss Foundation was granted charitable status in March, 1959 and is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. The foundation’s primary purpose is to support Christian evangelical purposes. The foundation reported assets of $81 million as of 2014. The foundation does not respond to unsolicited applications for funding. No website.
13. The Lynn and Foster Freiss Family Foundation is an independent foundation out of Jackson, Wyoming. It mostly funds faith-based entrepreneurial programs, especially one-on-one mentoring. The foundation provides general/operating support, matching/challenge support, and program-related investment/loans. No website.
14. The Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust in Overland Park, Kansas “supports God’s work as described in the Great Commission by spreading evangelism throughout the world.” It primarily supports organizations and programs that further this mission. The Trust provides grants that help start new ministries or new programs or expand current programs. It funds organizations that are creative, accountable, stable, and effective. It also funds Christian programs that provide housing, food, medical assistance, and education for the poor. It may also support medical research in different areas. No website.
15. Tyndale House Foundation was established by Kenneth and Margaret Taylor in 1963. Tyndale House Foundation grew out of an underlying conviction that every person should have the opportunity to be confronted by the reality of the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. This conviction provides the impetus behind the Foundation’s basic purpose: To minister to the spiritual needs of people, primarily through literature consistent with biblical principles. To fulfill this basic purpose, the Foundation seeks to provide tools so that people around the world can hear and understand the message of God’s love and His plan for reconciliation with humanity and provide education and training in the creation and use of these tools. Website: www.tyndalehousefdn.org
16. The Chatlos Foundation proclaims the Glory of God by funding nonprofit organizations in the United States and around the globe. The Foundation’s areas of interest are: Bible Colleges/Seminaries, Religious Causes, Medical Concerns, Liberal Arts Colleges and Social Concerns. The foundation includes templates and guidelines to apply on its website. Website: chatlos.org
17. The chief purpose of the Daniel P. Amos Family of Foundations is to glorify God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by supporting Christian and charitable organizations. Website: www.amosfamilyfoundation.org
18. First Fruit, guided by Christian faith, is a grantmaking foundation that resources leaders and organizations working among the poorest segments of the Majority World. Through the counsel of various Christian thinkers from around the globe, the organization developed three enduring areas of focus– holistic ministry, leadership development and reaching the less and least reached. Website: www.firstfruit.org
19. The Festus & Helen Stacy Foundation is a private family foundation founded in 1980 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The mission of the foundation is to partner with Christian organizations worldwide that have demonstrated the ability to make a lasting impact benefiting mankind by helping others and extending the love, mercy and teachings of Jesus Christ. Website: www.fsfnd.org
20. Kingsway Charities Inc. is a faith-based, Christian charitable organization headquartered in Bristol, Virginia. The primary focus is International Medical Missions, a ministry that warehouses medications and medical supplies donated from pharmaceutical companies. These donations are then shipped to qualified medical mission teams serving the poor in third-world and developing countries. Website: www.kingswaycharities.org
Some foundations exist solely to benefit Christian ministries and churches. Others lack a direct connection to Christianity but work to solve problems that are at the core of Christian concern. Some have a limited geographic focus; others have a national focus; still others have an international focus. Wherever your organization operates, and whatever programs it has, many of these foundations are viable funding possibilities for your organization. And there are countless other possibilities. The Christian Funding Directory (CFD), Foundation Directory Online, and Foundation Search are the most valuable sources of information about foundations.
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