Fundraising for a church building project is always a challenge, but it can be an extremely rewarding one that reinvigorates parish life and helps build a sustainable future.
If you don’t know where to start, call or email the Diocesan Fundraising Adviser, Katherine Prior, for a preliminary meeting. Katherine is an historian with a background in the heritage industry and museum curation and she has hands-on experience of raising funds for urgent fabric repairs of her own church in Brighton. She joined the Church Buildings Team in January 2019 with a remit to assist parishes who are contemplating church building and reordering projects.
The good news is that there are many funding opportunities for churches and parish centres and all sorts of projects are eligible, ranging from original fabric repair and new facilities to organs, bells and works of art. The more challenging news is that parishes often have to enlarge their vision and grow their supporters to unlock these funds.
If you feel that your church is ready to start fundraising, read our advice sheet about Identifying Likely Funders, which includes some relevant funding databases.
If you’re not quite there yet, here are some first principles to guide your PCC’s discussions:
- Always keep the bigger picture in mind.
Potential funders will expect to see evidence of sustainability and a vision for future growth.
So, begin by asking: How do we want our church to serve our community in the future?
Then: What do we need to do our building/s to make that happen?
Thinking this way will stop you from tackling things piecemeal and will maximise your funding chances. No-one wants to invest in repairing a church’s rainwater goods, say, if the church may close in a few years’ time because it doesn’t have a viable future.
- Identify who will benefit from your fundraising.
Competition for funds from charitable trusts is fierce and few will fund repairs or improvement to a church that is only open for one or two services a week. Christian-friendly trusts will expect to see evidence of outreach and growth beyond your current worshippers, while non-religious trusts will ask that you welcome and engage people of all faiths and none in your project.
This means that if you are fundraising for a project that will solely benefit your existing worshippers, you will probably have to raise the funds among yourselves. Alternatively, you can seize the opportunity to help your parish broaden its outlook and outreach.
- Clarify and quantify your needs precisely.
Don’t assume that the need for a building project is obvious. For example, PCCs often say: We need a toilet in the church and leave it at that. But most people have a toilet at home; they don’t have to come to church for one! So, explain how a toilet fits into your vision for growth – and be realistic in your projections. How many people will benefit? Which groups will benefit? Is it for the use of the worshipping community alone or will a toilet enable you to run more community activities and perhaps increase income?
Asking yourselves these questions will help you determine whether your project justifies the expenditure and the intervention in the church fabric. It will also help persuade funders and other stakeholders that you have made the right choice for your building.
For further advice
Diocesan Fundraising Adviser (Usual work days: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
Tel: 01273 425 690