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Paying for Projects

Ideas for how to fund home repair service and outreach ministry projects.

How You Can Engage Your Community - Part 2

This blog continues the series on how churches, outreach teams and service ministries can impact their communities.

CourtAdvocacy is one of those open-ended terms that can mean different things to just about everyone. What springs to your mind? A political rally? Signing a petition? A lawyer? the concept is simple - advancing the cause of the hurting and oppressed, typically through public opinion or legislation.

Have you had success with large (or small) advocacy efforts? If so, will you share your story? We'd love to learn from you. Please click on “Leave a Comment” at the bottom of this post and share your experience!

Because the challenges advocacy seeks to address can be so large and daunting, it probably scares a lot of folks off. But we think that there are ways to "stand in the gap" for people that don't require such a large-scale effort.

Advocacy can be very effective if you have good relationships in the community, but require a different set of skills for "hands-on" ministry people. Instead of swinging a hammer, collecting food, or providing shelter or rent money, these types of engagements require strong networking skills and the ability to work the phones. While they may not require material costs or volunteers, advocacy projects are a great way to build strong rapport and relationship with a homeowner and to help more people. Here's how it looks for our ministry. We get connected with someone in need, then use our connections and relationships to get funding, materials, grants, special considerations or discounts. HRM typically works with companies and nonprofits until a solution is arrived at - advocating on the client’s behalf.

We've been able to get client's heaters or air conditioners replaced or repaired for significant discounts or free. Certainly, this is not something a company or nonprofit can do all the time, but if you can accomplish one or two projects that you wouldn't have been able to before, what a difference that could mean for people!

Want to read more about how to impact your community?

Part 1 - Repairs and Accessibility
Part 3 - Disaster Response/Recovery
Part 4 - Forming Partnerships

Is a Home Repair Team Right for Your Church?

A church's home repair team exists to serve it's own homeowners in need and as an outreach to your community. In both cases, we have found those most needing our services to typically be widows, single mothers, the elderly and disabled. If outreach is a priority for your church, a home repair ministry is an opportunity to share the gospel in Word and deed with these people.

If this sounds like a good idea, the next question becomes "is it right for us and can we do it?" Finding the answers will be helped by sharing what a home repair team is and what it is not.

1) A home repair team is typically not led by staff or leadership (at least, that's been our experience). A home repair team can be viewed as an opportunity to extend your congregation's involvement and outreach. In fact, the guys who run a home repair team can be the people in your church who aren't sure how and where to plug in and serve.

Find your handymen (and women), and the folks your leadership calls when you have a single mom with a repair need, and you've found your candidate to lead you local church's home repair team. We think that these guys exist in many churches.

2) A home repair team is scalable in scope. The size of your church should not be an impediment to starting a team. A simple home repair team can be two guys who help people out occasionally on weekends. In a larger church, or one with a lot of handymen, you can have several projects going on a month.

3) A home repair team does not have to raise a lot of money to fund projects. Your church can certainly choose to fund projects, but we try to either have the materials paid for by the homeowner (where feasible) or donated from local businesses or other non-profits.

Disaster Response4) A home repair ministry is a natural partner to a disaster response/recovery team. If your church participates in disaster recovery projects, a home repair ministry can help your team impact their community all throughout the year. More than likely you've already got the same types of skills on your team and are doing similar types of work. Instead of sending volunteers out a couple times a year, you can keep them busy every month, even weekly, if you have the people for it!

5) Starting a home repair ministry does require some forethought. Fortunately, our ministry and other churches have been through this before. In fact, we've been doing this for many years and learned a lot of good ideas and some not so good ones to avoid.

We've collected that information and made it available to churches at no charge on our website (you can make a suggested donation but it is not required). As we get more churches joining through our website, we desire to build a community that can share and learn with each other.

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So, How Exactly Do We Pay For This? 11 Ideas That Will Cost You Little or Nothing!

Have you found yourself on one of these two situations?

1) You want to start a service/mercy or outreach ministry but there's no budget?

2) Or you have a ministry, but there's not enough funding to do much?

If you answered "Yes", take heart! We've seen God provide for projects when we didn’t have the funds for materials. Here are some ways that you can get projects funded outside of an existing budget.

  • Pray and acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of all funding sources. It is a great testimony to do this with the person you are helping. What a great foundation for the Gospel.
  • Check out your local materials supplier. We’ve found that if you can get the manager to listen long enough to tell some of the story of what is needed and why, you will have much more favor with them. Perhaps they can help with a discount or donation. These asks can be more difficult if it is a church asking which is another conversation about forming separate non-profits.
  • Other community-minded business leaders.
  • Deacons’ benevolence fund.
  • Women of the Church or the Men’s Group.
  • Your Sunday school class or small group can often kick in.
  • Service organizations and business groups.
  • People from the volunteer team often are willing to help.
  • Partnerships between HRM and other local charities are attractive, especially if the charity made the referral in the first place.
  • Request a grant or ask a local non-profit to apply for a special grant for a larger project. We had a local charity, which had already received a grant in 2011 ask us to apply on behalf of a family needing a handicap lift. The grant request would go the Electrical Membership Cooperative (EMC) from which the family got power. We got it and the family got a matching amount and the lift was funded. The lift has blessed both the parents and their sixteen year-old with cerebral palsy.
  • Some municipalities and some non-faith-based charities get Federal grants and must find ways to spend them for any qualifying need, no matter that volunteers come from a church, and come without restrictions on your activities, such as prayer or sharing your faith. They are usually earmarked for specific kinds of project or people groups. These are really good resources to know about on an on-going basis. Find volunteers who have connections to find out about such programs and use them, even if you’d rather they never pick up a hammer! God has given each church and each person different gifts to use for His Glory – Romans 12: 4-8.

Have you had success funding projects in creative or unorthodox ways? Please share your experiences with us by leaving a comment!