What qualifies a church as a Faith Based Community Development Center?

by Asia
(Las Vegas, NV)

Visitor Question: What qualifies a church as a Faith Based Community Development Center? Outside of the entities listed below, is there anything else?
1. 501c3
2. Community Development Plan

Is there any other certification needed to become a CDC?

Thank you kindly.

Editors Reply: The acronym CDC stands for community development corporation. You certainly can call your organization a community development center if you want to, but we are just pointing that out to you.

There is no certification required for becoming a CDC. Your city or state might have a definition they require for participation in a certain grant or program, but overall there is no certification process. There also are no universally agreed upon qualifications.

Certainly it is very important to become a 501c3 organization, or rarely, some other type of 501c corporation that the attorney who helps a CDC organize can advise about.

You want to be a corporation separate from the church itself in almost all cases, since it will help shield the church from liability for something that the CDC does, and vice versa. Also the church itself could be prohibited from receiving certain grants or types of government subsidy that would be appropriate for the CDC.

Certainly it is important for a CDC, whether faith based or not, to have a community development plan. Typically the CDC does not have a specific plan completed before it is formed. Indeed it is best practice for the community development center or corporation to involve the community extensively in helping to formulate its plan.

Also we want to emphasize that you should consider any community development plan to be somewhat temporary and subject to revision as the new organization struggles to implement its plan. In the real world, community based organizations make a plan, including an implementation and financial plan, and then they find out that certain aspects of the plan are not working out. A good CDC will recognize this pattern and then amend its plan, in consultation with the community.

So yes, we agree that having a community development plan would be a great feature for a new CDC, but consider that at the beginning, you don't need a finished plan as much as you need a mission and a statement of your values.

Sure, you should have a few ideas about potential projects, simply because that helps to communicate your purpose to the community and to the congregation. However, having a specific plan can begin to galvanize opposition before you are ready.

We are in danger of repeating ourselves here, so if you have not done so already, please read and have others who are involved read our pages on how to start a CDC and faith-based community development corporations for many more ideas and the voice of experience.

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