God’s work never stops. Churchwide office staff are still hard at work – from our homes. Hours and lines of communication remain the same.

Open Doors

Open Doors

Ministry grants for congregations

LEARN HOW TO APPLY!

 

About

Thank you for all the ways your congregation has served your community with compassion and creativity, even as physical distancing changed the way we worship and meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We look forward to gathering with our congregations in physical spaces soon, as public health considerations allow. We know that this time of transition will look different to different communities, depending on local COVID-19 considerations. We are glad you are checking out the Open Doors Grants opportunity. Thanks for your interest and your ministry!

Open Doors is a new initiative to support ELCA congregations interested in meeting new people as we transition into a time of re-gathering in physical spaces. Your congregation is invited to apply! Together as the ELCA, we share a ministry goal of connecting with a million new people and activating our communities so that more people may know the way of Jesus. If you have a concrete, actionable idea for meeting new people during this critical time, you might be eligible for an Open Doors grant.

If your congregation is selected for an Open Doors grant, you will receive a one-time, set payment, anticipated in the range of $1,500 - $2,500, to help implement your ministry idea. Because there is no set of “best practices” for how to meet new people following a global pandemic, all applications will proceed through a basic eligibility process, and then be awarded by random selection.

By completing an Open Doors grant application, you are not only applying for a possible grant award, but you are also committing to helping the whole church learn together. This means that all applicants will be requested to answer a short survey about your congregation for each of the next three years.

A good idea should be able to come from anywhere, and while not every good idea needs money, no good idea should be held back due to a lack of seed money to get it started!


 

Timeline

  • April 21, 2021

    Grant application opens.

  • May 14, 2021

    Deadline to register in ELCA GrantMaker in order to fill out an application.

  • May 19, 2021

    Grant application closes.

  • Mid-June 2021

    Grants are awarded.

 

Grant Eligibility

Your ELCA congregation is most likely eligible to apply! Any congregation applying must:

  • Be affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
  • Have a new, specific and actionable idea for how its ministry might help the congregation meet new people while regathering in community as COVID-19 pandemic considerations allow.
  • Commit to shared learning over the next three years. All applicants to the Open Doors grant program will be required to answer a short (10 minutes or less) survey about their congregation, whether or not it receives funding. This is an opportunity to share your ideas, put them into action and learn from others as we return to physical community.

To complete the Open Doors application you will need:

  • Your new, specific and actionable idea!
  • A copy of the annual report prepared for your most recent congregational annual meeting. There is no specific format required, but please include all relevant and easily accessible materials. If your congregation does not have a recent annual report, consider attaching minutes from the most recent annual meeting, or a recent newsletter.
  • A current letter verifying your congregation’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. [Note: If your congregation is part of the ELCA's group ruling and needs a copy of its verification letter, email grants@elca.org and include your congregation’s name, city, state, zip code and EIN.]
 

 

Open Doors Grant FAQs

Open Doors is a new initiative to support ELCA congregations interested in meeting new people during this time of re-gathering in physical space. If you have a concrete, actionable idea for meeting new people during this critical time, you might be eligible for an Open Doors grant.

If your congregation is selected for an Open Doors grant, you will receive a one-time, set payment, anticipated in the range of $1,500 - $2,500, to help implement your ministry idea for meeting new people. A good idea should be able to come from anywhere, and while not every good idea needs money, no good idea should be held back due to a lack of seed money to get it started!

Once your ministry’s concrete, actionable idea is ready, simply navigate online to ELCA.org/OpenDoors to begin filling out your application.

Because there is no set list of “best practices” for how to meet new people following a global pandemic, all applications will proceed through a basic eligibility process, and then be awarded by random selection.

By completing an Open Doors grant application, you are not only applying for a possible grant award, but you are also committing to helping the whole church learn together. This means that all applicants (regardless of selection) will be requested to answer a short (10 minutes or less) survey about your congregation for each of the next three years.

There is a set budget for the Open Doors grant opportunity, and we anticipate not all applicants will receive an Open Doors grant. However, this process is unique:

  • If your congregation is selected through the randomized award process, you can expect to receive a one-time, set payment amount of between $1,500 and $2,500.
  • If your congregation is not selected through the randomized award process, you will still be requested to complete the brief, annual questionnaire, and upon completion of the questionnaire, your congregation will receive a small stipend to honor the time and prioritization of information sharing.

Once your application clears the basic eligibility process, you will be placed in the pool for random selection. Random selection will be done by a computer program.

Basic eligibility includes:

  1. Is the idea concrete and actionable?
  2. Is the congregation affiliated with the ELCA?
  3. Is the application complete, and the ministry has agreed to participate in annual information sharing process regardless of selection and award?

Because the goal of this grant is to learn together, if you do not agree to participate in the information sharing for the next three years, regardless of award, your application will be considered ineligible. We know this is a new, different concept; thanks for understanding.

The main component of your grant application is a description of your idea of how your congregation can meet new people. The only requirements for an idea to be eligible are that it is concrete, actionable, and new. (Grant funds cannot be used to support ongoing activities as they currently exist.)

You do not need to provide a budget or receipts, and funded ideas could end up costing less than or more than the amount of an Open Doors grant; funded congregations will receive the award amount regardless.

Additional components of the application include:

  • A copy of the annual report prepared for your most recent congregational annual meeting. There is no specific format required, but please include all relevant and easily accessible materials. If your congregation does not have a recent annual report, consider attaching minutes from the most recent annual meeting, or a recent newsletter.
  • A current letter verifying your congregation’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. [Note: If your congregation is part of the ELCA's group ruling and needs a copy of its verification letter, email grants@elca.org and include your congregation’s name, city, state, zip code and EIN.]

At this time, only ELCA congregations are eligible to apply. If interested, ELCA affiliated ministries are encouraged to partner with an ELCA congregation to submit a new idea and learn together, although the applicant and potential grant award recipient will be the congregation, and the actionable idea should be anchored in the congregation.

For example, an ELCA outdoor ministry might partner with a congregation to offer a summer camp at the congregation with a specific plan to re-engage children in social activities following the remote-school environment so many families have lived with during the past year.

Don’t over think it! Most congregations have been innovating and adapting in real-time throughout the pandemic. Perhaps you have “met” new people who tuned in to your virtual or digital worship or activities. Maybe you have built new connections with healthcare workers and other essential workers during this time. How might your congregation strengthen those new connections during this time of transition?

The Open Doors initiative is an opportunity to experiment and learn together. Grant funds cannot be used to support ongoing activities as they currently exist. How might your congregation imagine an ongoing ministry or activity growing in new and different ways?

We anticipate a high volume of interest and applications, and therefore encourage you to use this FAQ page to self-solve. If you have a question about the registration or application itself, please send a note to our team at grants@elca.org. We will do our best to get back to you quickly and will also consider updating this page as new FAQs emerge.

Use this step-by-step guide to take you through the registration and application process.

We are excited to you have many ideas! Please submit one idea for one application per congregation. If you have more great ideas, please add them to the idea sharing feature on this Open Doors landing page to share with others!

Any ideas related to meeting new people in-person should be in compliance with local and state public health recommendations. Many synods also offer up-to-date considerations for worship and congregation activities. The safety and well-being of your congregation and those you meet is a top priority. Follow all local guidance regarding physical distancing, mask-wearing, maximum gathering size and building capacity limits. For more information, please visit ELCA.org/PublicHealth.

There is no set end date for when your idea must be implemented, but we do hope it meets new people and the moment of pandemic-related transition. We know this is happening in different ways and at different times across the country. You will be invited to share your first learnings toward the end of 2021 and hope that will include an update about what you tried or are in the process of trying.

We invite you to share your ideas for meeting new people using the "bulletin board" below, whether or not you plan to submit a grant application. To create a post, click or tap the pink (+) button at the bottom of the board. If you feel comfortable, include your congregation’s name and location.

Made with Padlet