The Barnabas Fund: A Diocesan Resource for Non-Profits with Specific Needs

The Barnabas Fund: A Diocesan Resource for Non-Profits with Specific Needs


by Vernon Proctor

Imagine that you are the executive director of a small Delaware non-profit organization that provides hot meals for the homeless. The stove on which your team prepares the food is on its last legs, and a period of high demand is beginning. Your group desperately needs a new appliance, but you cannot afford the $2,500 cost of the stove. Is there a local funding option available that can act quickly on a request for financial assistance? Fortunately, the Episcopal Church in Delaware has one such source that can assist organizations with ties to at least one Episcopalian: the Barnabas Fund.

The fund has a vibrant history that is deeply rooted in the Episcopal Church in Delaware. In 1987, proceeds from the sale of property adjacent to St. Albans Church in Wilmington were used to establish the fund. St. Albans’ vestry intended that the fund’s income be used to support projects and programs that expand the outreach ministry of the church. When St. Albans closed in 2013, the balance of the Barnabas Fund was transferred to the diocesan trustees for investment in Master Fund A.

The trustees formed the Barnabas Fund Committee to assist in selecting worthy projects to receive grant funding. When fully staffed, the committee has seven members who serve staggered three-year terms. At present, the committee has one member from New Castle County, two from Kent, two from Sussex, and two vacancies, which we hope to fill soon.

An applicant for a grant from the Barnabas Fund must be a not-for-profit organization with ties to at least one Episcopalian and located within the Episcopal Church in Delaware. The awarded funds must be primarily used within Delaware. Grants are awarded to groups that do Christian work, broadly understood; however, grants are not restricted to Christian organizations. Grants are intended to help organizations make non-recurring acquisitions that help them fulfill their purpose. Awarded funds cannot be applied to routine operating expenses, repairs, or maintenance. Nor are they to be used for an organization’s capital campaign.

The Barnabas Fund makes grants in an aggregate amount up to 25 percent of the annual fund distribution. The maximum grant amount is approximately $5,000. If the total project exceeds $5,000, the applicant must advise the committee of the source of the project’s funding balance. Available on the diocesan website, the fund’s application calls for information regarding the identity and purpose of the applicant organization, the nature of the proposed acquisition (including an invoice showing the estimated cost), confirmation of the organization’s Section 501(c)(3) tax status, and recent financial statements.

The committee applies the following criteria to select grant recipients:

  • the needs of the organization requesting the grant,
  • the impact of the grant,
  • the strength of the requesting organization, and
  • the organization’s ability to provide an impact throughout the Episcopal Church in Delaware or the State of Delaware.

The committee considers applications for grants on an as-needed basis as they are received and documented. The application review and approval process takes up to 30 days, and grants are provided within a reasonable time after committee approval.

What kinds of items has the Barnabas Fund assisted organizations in purchasing? Usually, the project involves purchasing tangible property, such as furniture, appliances, or equipment. Projects approved in 2019 reveal the rich variety of both recipients and acquired items.

The Barnabas Fund:

  • provided the lion’s share of the cost of a Hobie-14 sailboat for Camp Arrowhead, the popular summer camp for youth of the Episcopal Church in Delaware. The acquisition filled out the fleet of vessels for use by campers in 2020;
  • enabled the purchase of new kitchen equipment for the Newark Empowerment Center of Friendship House, a New Castle County organization that assists the homeless and displaced persons through hospitality, education, empowerment, and community;
  • underwrote the acquisition of office furniture for a new counselor at TRIAD Addiction Recovery Services in Wilmington. As its name suggests, TRIAD counsels people with substance abuse issues; and
  • awarded a substantial sum to Primeros Pasos, Inc. Early Learning Center inGeorgetown for playground equipment. Primeros Pasos serves primarily Spanishspeaking children and their families in Sussex County with diverse educational opportunities.

The Barnabas Fund serves a real Christian purpose in helping Delaware non-profit organizations to serve their clients better. Please share this information with others to increase awareness of the fund and the opportunities it provides, and encourage them to apply for funding.

Vernon Proctor, Senior Warden of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Laurel, is the acting chair of the Barnabas Fund Committee.

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