Communities of faith all need banking services to manage the life of the church. Depending on your individual needs, there may be different options.
1. Number of Transactions
One of the biggest driver of fees for your banking is going to be the number of times you deposit or withdraw funding. Think about ways to reduce this.
2. Aligned Values?
Many financial institutions have taken corporate social responsibility very seriously and have embedded it into their organizations. Find out more about their foundations, what they donate to and ways they donate, you might be surprised by the alignment. Credit unions were specifically to help with community economic development for areas that were underserved. You might also want to have a new type of conversation with your banker. Specifically letting them know all of the good work that your community of faith does outside of Sunday, you never know where the conversation might lead!
3. Other Options
- Technology is changing quickly. What other options do they have available for you to help make your banking even easier or more organized.
- Social finance and impact investing is continue to emerge within financial institutions. How is your money being used? These are some questions you can start asking.
Credit unions across Canada have preferred or no charge plans for community groups, including communities of faith.
Specific Community Banking Packages
Credit Union Locators
Alberta Credit Union List: https://www.albertacentral.com/We-re-in-your-community/Credit-Unions-Affiliates/
Atlantic Credit Unions: http://atlanticcreditunions.ca/
British Columbia Credit Union List: https://creditunionsofbc.com/find-your-branch/
Manitoba Credit Unions: https://creditunion.mb.ca/#post-419
Ontario Credit Unions: https://www.creditunionsofontario.com/
Quebec Credit Unions: https://locator.ccua.com/
Saskatchewan Credit Unions: http://www.saskcu.com/pages/find%20a%20credit%20union.aspx
Affordable and inclusive housing
Arts & culture spaces
Co-working / innovation spaces
Community hubs (bringing community service providers under one roof for targeted and integration services)
Sustainable energy (we didn’t talk about this one in detail but there could be big potential with churches wanting to go green)
Sustainable food systems
1. Most importantly, the project has to be iconic and meaningful to the community. It needs to be a project that supporters are going to rally behind, something the media might talk about, and generate significant environmental or social benefit. It’s important to think about how the broader community (those with shared values) might engage with the project if it does not directly impact them. For example, how could the café in Rodney be framed and pitched to be of interest to potential investors in London, Windsor, etc.
2. Should be looking to raise a minimum of $500,000 in community bonds. We don’t recommend attempting to raise less because of the fixed costs (primarily legal and marketing) associated with doing a bond raise. In our own modelling, we haven’t found it to be financially viable for a lower amount, though in the case of a church where the community connection is already very strong, it may be true that the marketing expenses could be less. We are really working on this piece as an organization by templating the process down. Our hope is that one day, we could get the fixed costs so low that it could be a tool accessible to groups looking to raise as little as $100,000. We just aren’t quite there yet.
3. The capital being raised should go to the purchase or retrofit of a fixed asset. As I mentioned, community bonds are not a secured investment but are significantly less risky when they can be backed by a fixed asset. If you want the bonds to become RRSP eligible, this is mandatory.
4. The project must have a community champion. A capital raise is obviously a large endeavor and will be presumably being undertaken alongside another large project (ex. renovating a building). There needs to be one extremely passionate person who is going to see this project through. We feel this leadership is essential to the success of the campaign and the project. The community champion will be the face of the project and the person that the investors connect/identify with (think Tonya!).
5. Obviously, there must be a sustainable business model that will allow the organization to pay investors back over time. Bonds can be designed in such a way to meet project needs and future cash flow projections. This would always be part of a feasibility study.
6. There should be an established community of supporters, which is easy for any church!
These are the top-level criteria and of course there is more due diligence to be done on a case by case basis. We offer a free half day workshop to any non-profit or co-op group that is interested in community bonds to walk them through the process and do a high-level feasibility assessment. If you think there could be a good fit with one of your churches, we are always happy to arrange these but ask them to do a little prep work and bring in the key decision makers (board members, finance staff, etc.).
Marketing & Engagement Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tapestry Community Capital - Finance to the power of community
Getting grants is part of the overall strategy for a balanced budget. United Churches are eligible for many grants. Often we think about the grants that are within the United Church of Canada Foundation, Regions, or Embracing the Spirit. But there are also quite a few different grants that are available through external sources. Here is how you get started.
Identifying Appropriate Grants
Read through the criteria carefully look for things such as audited financial statements required or number of years in operation
If you can, look at past donations. Have they donated to similar organizations/causes?
Reach out and try to start a conversation before applying
Go through the entire application before applying
Identify any gaps or documents you need
Letters of support
Give yourself plenty of time from start to submit
Draft 1 – don’t stress about it. Just write it down. It’s okay if you don’t have all your answers at first. Put down what you have
Take breaks! Give yourself some time between drafts so you can read with fresh eyes
As you clean up your draft, look back at the application package or grant website and use their keywords/language
Avoid “church” language (if you are applying outside of the church). Try to focus on how you’re a community
Don’t over explain, you don’t have to fill the word count to the maximum
Show your work, explain why your service/activity/program is needed
Listed below are some of the ones that most commonly fund United Church communities of faith and some of the top things that you should know about them.
Canada Summer Jobs (Federal Government)
Hiring a summer student through the Canada Summer Jobs is one of the most common grant applications that United Church communities of faith are both eligible for and are highly successful in getting. We have had communities of faith that have summer students helping with the property, with communications, with Vacation Bible Schools, and with a variety of other creative initiatives. Not only has it been great experience for the students, but it has been a great opportunity for building relationships with the students and the community of faith.
apply for your "wish list" of students. Typically communities of faith have been approved, but only for 1/2 the students or 1/2 the time that was asked for. So ask for more than what you need by asking for what you would like.
there are requirements to be an employer including an HR plan and management. A lot of communities of faith are hesitant to even apply due to these. But these are best practices to ensure that you get the most out of the student working for you & for the student to learn and grow. They are not prohibitive to having a student. Every community of faith that has applied has been pleasantly surprised.
have some students in mind early, and let them know that you are interested in hiring them even before the approvals happen. The approvals are often later than we'd like making it hard to recruit the best qualified students. Try to be an early communicator with students that you would like to hire.
There are a ton of United Churches that have been part of this program and continue to see it grow. In fact, the only problem with the program is that not enough of our churches are using it! Here are some examples of how communities of faith have hired students:
Kimbourne Park United Church and Willowdale United Church hired students to work in their community gardens and interact with the community.
Deer Park United Church was able to run drop in day camps for people in the neighbourhood when it was needed and convenient for them.
First Metropolitan United Church launched a live streaming service which was run by the students (who were great with technology) which reached shut-ins.
Hillhurst United Church had a student dedicated to communications and media relations.
Grace United Church hired a social media marketer who also had the skillset to do videography which was a huge, unexpected bonus.
Heart Lake via Presbytery was able to run a Vacation Bible School.
Robert McClure hired a student to help launch their farmers’ market activities in conjunction with the Embracing the Spirit funding they received. This helped them scale up the project even fast with signing up vendors and helping with the management of the farmers’ market logistics.
Find more information on the Government site: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html
Accessibility grants are available for communities of faith. This is something that typically is funded under the small grants portion of up to $100,000. However we have seen a lot of communities of faith typically get $30,000 to $35,000 of support.
Is there a smaller grant and a larger grant for accessibility that you could apply for? A lot of communities of faith have done light renovations on washrooms or ramps for the small accessibility grants.
There are only a few intakes for this grant, so making sure that you apply for this on time and being aware of this early.
Do you need an elevator? Can a ramp suffice? If you are looking at having an elevator, do you have a plan to continue the maintenance and upkeep?
New Horizons (Federal Government)
New Horizons is federal funds to support seniors programming. As many communities of faith have a large community of seniors and additional outreach programming specifically for seniors, in many cases we are eligible.
Find more information from the Government of Canada.