Grant Writing and Funding Sources
What grants does USCJ have for congregations and communities?
- USCJ is in the process of creating applications for synagogue micro-grants.. Stay tuned!
- Synagogues can apply here for Ma’alot Grants to provide funds for Israel themed programs
Where should I look for new grant funding?
Below, we will list a few places you can search for possible grants. It is important to ensure the Foundation’s grant requirements match your wishes and needs. You do not want to spend too much time applying to grants that are not a good match.
- Jewish Foundation List
- Federal Government Grants tend to be difficult to secure and have to be used to only support the non-religious social services provided or for security purposes.
- It is important to search the Community Foundations and grants in your specific geographical location. Many Foundations tend to give to specific areas.
- You can look up what the Foundation tends to fund, by looking at their 990s on GuideStar. (It is free to make an account)
Can you help me write a grant?
We are happy to have a conversation with you to help you with your grant writing. Please email Sammi Cutler, Director of Donor Engagement, [email protected] to schedule an appointment. Here are some other valuable sources:
- Grant Writing Steps
- Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics
- Grant Writing for Dummies
- Many grants’ first step is to complete a LOI (letter of intent). Here are guidelines for writing a successful LOI. Read more about writing LOIs here.
Can you help our congregation fundraise?
We are happy to serve as a resource for fundraising ideas and problem solving. To set up a conversation, please email Sammi Cutler, Director of Donor Engagement, [email protected]. Here are some of our favorite tips and resources:
- Steward your donors! You can never thank them too many times.
- Have board members call and say thank you, have students write handwritten notes or postcards, every touchpoint has a major effect.
- Great storytelling captures people’s attention and drives them to action
- Make sure you have pictures that help tell your story.
- Collect and share quotes and testimonials from participants.
- 20 Practical & Effective Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits
- Use data to drive your fundraising. The data tells an informed story!
- What month was most successful last year and why? Which campaigns/mailings worked best? How many donors are new vs. renewed vs. skipped and can we figure out why this may be? Are there different giving levels that should be acknowledged?
- Network for Good and Council of Nonprofits are wonderful general resources.
- We have a recording of the Life and Legacy Webinar series in partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation available on our website
- Enhance your High Holiday Campaign by watching past USCJ Webinars on the topic. For additional questions, please reach out to Barry Mael, Senior Director, Synagogue Affiliations & Operations, [email protected].
Where can I learn more about Development?
The Jewish Community has some great resources to support Jewish professionals in the fundraising world.
- Check out classes and courses from JPro and Spertus,
- JPro connects, educates, inspires, and empowers the people who work in the Jewish nonprofit sector in order to build their skills, advance their careers, and amplify their ability to contribute to the vitality of their communities.
- Spertus Institute provides learning opportunities that are rich and relevant, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture, and open to all.
- There are some great programs at universities to expand your knowledge of philanthropy.
- Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
- Northwestern University’s certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations
- Network for Good is constantly offering relevant seminars
What other ways can we encourage people to donate?
- A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a charitable giving program that allows individuals to combine the most favorable tax benefits with the flexibility to support the organizations you value. Many of your donors/congregants may have DAF and can directly donate from their DAF to your organization.
- Encourage your donors/congregants to increase giving, and avoid paying capital gains taxes by making gifts of mutual fund shares, stock, or securities.
- Donors can use their Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) if they are over 72 as their required minimum distributions from their IRAs as donations. If donors make the payment directly to the synagogue, they can avoid capital gains taxes. Read more about this here.
Legacy giving refers to donations that individuals or families plan to give to a nonprofit after their passing. Legacy giving is also commonly referred to as planned giving as donors often plan these gifts years before they are distributed to the designated parties. We have listed various ways to leave a legacy gift below.
- Bequest by Will– A bequest is one of the easiest and most common options for legacy giving as it costs the donor nothing today, and it is completely revocable. The individual simply designates the synagogue or charity in their will.
- Cash Gifts – These gifts can be used to create or grow an endowment, or go towards a specific fund of the donor’s choosing.
- Gift of Retirement Assets – If you are over the age of 70 1/2, this giving option provides multiple tax advantages.
- IRA Designation – Recent federal tax changes also increase the tax burden to family members inheriting IRAs, so designating these accounts to charity are often an attractive option.
- Life Insurance – Gifts of life insurance are one of the most impactful (and underutilized) giving options. This is a great option for younger donors who can purchase life insurance for less; and for older donors who wish to designate a portion of their life insurance.
- Marketable Securities – Gift of stocks, bonds, or other appreciated securities gifts avoid capital gains and provide an immediate charitable deduction based on current market values.
- Charitable Lead Trust – This giving strategy generates annual gifts for one or more charitable organizations for a term of years and upon the donor’s death or the term, it goes back to the donor or his/her beneficiaries.
Your synagogue should not offer financial or tax advice. The above descriptions are merely an explanation of different ways people can leave legacy gifts. Please talk to your financial and legal advisors when setting up your estate plans.