Part of the mission of Faithify is to offer an alternative to the traditional model of how projects get funded. Traditional funding is based on a complicated formula of who you know, who decides your project is “worth” funding, and simple luck that what you want to do fits in a fixed funding timeline. There’s not much flexibility in the traditional model. It leaves a lot of people out and many projects un- or under-funded.

Consider this imaginary example:

You identify some important ministry that needs to happen…Let’s say a school in your community that you’ve been partnering with tells you they need after school daycare and tutoring. They ask, can your church members help? Your church has done lots of projects with this underfunded school because you made educational justice part of the mission of your congregation. Your team figures out the logistics- like background checks for volunteers, snacks, and hiring a school bus to bring home the kids who won’t get picked up. You see how much it will cost and realize that you’ll need more than is available in the congregational budget. But you know that access to safe after school care is important to the community, where parents often can’t afford daycare, and without this support many children will face food insecurity and lower grades, thus continuing a systemic pattern of inequity. You have a choice. You can say no – sorry, we can’t be part of this project right now- or you can get outside funding for the project.

How do you find the money to say yes to this request that fits into your congregational mission?  The traditional model might go something like this Choose Your Own Adventure:

  1. You turn to a UU funding source. They are excited about your project, but you missed the application deadline and the next one isn’t for a several months! You don’t get discouraged! You…
  2. Apply to community organizations for a grant. This involves writing a multi-page proposal with supporting documents and an interview. The grant application takes weeks or several months to be reviewed. You apply to…
  3. Another grant source where the people on the Board are uncomfortable with a church getting involved in a public school. It will get funded, but there are some requirements placed on the funding – your members can’t say anything about your congregation to kids or parents. You have to submit weekly reports about who is volunteering and hand in a final report measuring educational progress of students. If only you knew about…
  4. Another funding source, which is unpublicized because you have to be connected to someone on the Board to be invited to apply, which you don’t, so you never know about this source. Which means you….
  5. Decide to solicit donations from congregation members – but all the allowed fundraiser spots in this year’s  church calendar have been claimed. You get on the schedule for next year and you…
  6. Put a notice in the congregation’s newsletter and make an announcement, it brings in some money, but not enough, so the volunteers pitch in the remainder out of their own pockets. Some of your volunteers can’t participate because they don’t have the cash to spare.

Does this fictional story sound familiar? Maybe you’ve participated in a similar funding “adventure”. Sometimes the stars align and the application deadline is within reach or the community grant is a breeze, but more often than not, finding funding for emergent ministry opportunities in the traditional model is a challenge. And the options are exponentially limited for an individual seeking funds, because they often don’t meet criteria for granting institutions!

The traditional model of funding was built to limit access to wealth. It filters both who can receive funds AND who is allowed to express largess through funding projects. If we are going to shift traditional systems of power, we need to examine access. Important projects often get derailed or delayed because relatively small mounts of money aren’t available. Additionally, who the stakeholders are in a project make a difference to what gets funded.

With Faithify, the traditional paradigm is disrupted. Instead of waiting and hoping for a granting Board to approve your project’s worth, you can ask fellow UU’s who already share your values to join you in an expression of shared faith. Creating a Faithify campaign is available to all congregations, organizations, and individuals in relationship with Unitarian Universalism.

Once the project proposal is created and reviewed, your fundraising campaign can be accessed by people all over the globe and backed by UU’s and others who share an interest in your project. Of course, it still takes effort to create and publicize a Faithify campaign. Peer to peer fundraising involves planning and energy for sure! But using Faithify means not only that more people have access to getting their projects funded, but more people have access to participating in creating a better world through funding those UU ministry projects.

It is exciting to be part of this new paradigm, expanding the reach of UU values and creating a more democratic way of funding UU ministries. We have only just begun!

 

 

 

 

 

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