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CER Chalice Lighter Frequently Asked Questions
CER Chalice Lighter Frequently Asked Questions
Fundraising for Congregations

What is the purpose of the Chalice Lighters Grant Program?

The CER Chalice Lighters Grant Program works to encourage new and existing congregations to grow, both in terms of numbers and in their efforts to increase justice, compassion and spirituality. The grants support the growth of UU congregations of all sizes.

What kinds of church projects are right for a Chalice Lighters grant?

Grants can support four types of projects, including:

  • Church staff, such as hiring a first-time minister, RE professional, or other staff
  • Building or land, such as constructing or expanding a church, making major renovations or repairs, or acquiring land for church facilities
  • New congregation organizing (starting a new fellowship or church)
  • Innovative growth, such as special projects to help attract or retain members, and promote justice, compassion and spirituality

What’s a Cluster grant?

While most applications come from individual congregations, the Committee also welcomes applications from “clusters” of two or more congregations that want to work collaboratively on a regional project to enhance growth. Regional growth committees may also apply for a Chalice Lighters grant.

What size grant can our church apply for?

Most grants are for $20,000. Grants for building and land (including renovations) and grants for organizing a new congregation are usually paid in a lump sum. Grants for other purposes, such as hiring church staff, are typically paid out over three years (50% the first year, 30% the second, and 20% the third).

Double grants are allowed for purchase of land, buildings/significant increase in space. (Double grants are capped at no more than 20% of the project.)

How do I apply for a Chalice Lighters grant?

If your congregation has a growth project ready to propose, the first step is to complete and submit the “Intent to Apply” form. This short form asks for contact information, the type of grant you plan to apply for, and a brief project summary. This process must be authorized by the church’s board of trustees. 

The next step is to complete a full grant application, which asks for details about the proposed project and budget, and how the project will contribute to growth. The full application also requires recent church membership information, a recent long-range strategic plan, a five-year budget projection showing anticipated growth, and various financial statements, and information on current or planned justice and diversity programs. Note that applications for projects that have been approved by the congregation receive the strongest consideration.

Please note that every grant application must have a Project Manager who will be available for the life of the project, and who will serve as a liaison between the Chalice Lighters Committee and the congregation, for matters related to the grant project.

Who may apply for a Chalice Lighters grant?

Congregations which are Full Fair Share with dues to the CER/UUA and those with 20% of their members participating as donors to the Chalice Lighters program.

When can I apply for a Chalice Lighters grant?

The Chalice Lighters Program has three grant cycles each year, as follows:

If your Intent to Apply forms is received by June 1, your full proposal is due August 1, and reviewed in September.

If your Intent to Apply forms is received by October 1, your full proposal is due December 1, and reviewed in January.

If your Intent to Apply forms is received by January 2, the full proposal is due March 1, and reviewed in April.

Your church can expect to hear the Committee’s decision about a grant application shortly after the review committee’s meeting, in the cycle for which you applied.

What makes a successful Chalice Lighters grant application?

A strong proposal offers a clear plan and budget for a project or effort that will enhance growth of the congregation (or cluster) in numbers as well as in justice, compassion and spirituality, in alignment with the mission of Chalice Lighters.  A successful proposal also includes the required long-range strategic plan, and information on current or planned programs on anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism. Your proposal also should describe how the church plans to evaluate the project, to determine how well the effort meets its intended goals. To receive a Chalice Lighters grant, your congregation also must be and remain a UUA Full Fair Share Congregation and a CER Full Fair Share Congregation.

How are Chalice Lighters grants reviewed and decided?

After you submit your Intent to Apply form, your congregation will be assigned a Grant Manager, who is a member of the Chalice Lighters Committee. He or she will contact you to discuss your grant project and proposal plans, and can answer questions you may have about the application process. After you have submitted a full grant application, the committee will meet to review and discuss the proposal, along with other applications received in the same grant cycle. Soon afterward, your assigned Grant Manager will be in touch with the Project Manager from your congregation, to share the committee’s decision.  Your church also will receive a written letter as notification of the committee’s decision.

If our grant is approved, what happens next?

If the grant is awarded, the congregation (usually via the Project Manager or church office manager) provides information on when and how the grant check should be made out, and the address to which it should be sent.

If our church’s grant is not approved, can we reapply?

If your grant is not approved, your Grant Manager can provide feedback on your application and the Committee’s decision. He or she also can comment on whether the project may be resubmitted for consideration after suggested changes are made, which might include revisions or updates to the project plan, budget or related documents, such as the long-term strategic plan or financial statements.

What grant reports are needed if we receive a Chalice Lighters grant?

If your congregation is awarded a Chalice Lighters grant, you are expected to provide a grant report after six months and an annual grant report for each year over the life of the project, including information about the results and changes in attendance figures over time. Due dates for grant reports will be included in the formal grant award letter that will be mailed to the church shortly after the Chalice Lighters grant review meeting.

How is the Chalice Lighter grant program funded?

The program is funded by donations from individual UUs and other supporters. Individuals who commit to give are asked to make a suggested pledge of $20 three times each year. The CER puts out a “call” to request contributions three times annually.

How can our church help to keep the Chalice Lighters Program strong?

Please help us to recruit new contributors and build awareness of the Chalice Lighters program. For example, members of your congregation can help organize Chalice Lighter Sunday (held annually in the fall of even years) to encourage people to sign up to become Chalice Lighters. Planning materials are available from the CER  website.

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For more information contact cer@uua.org.