You’ll be amazed when you start raising funds

by
02 November 2006

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We have just received a grant offer from the Joint Repair Scheme of English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and we have to raise match funding within a year. Can we get help? The target is beyond our means.

MANY Grade-I and Grade-II* churches around the country will have received, just before Christmas, a grant offer from the Joint Repair Scheme of English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. All face the same challenge to find the remaining funding by December.

English Heritage considers in its calculation of grant several of the alternative sources of funds available to churches.

Outside trusts may contribute to your fund. Expect to identify no more than five. Websites such as www.churchcare.co.uk and www.ffhb.org.uk are good sources of information, as well as the directories and website of the Directory of Social Change.

For repairs, the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme will make grants against the cost of VAT. As you go through this preparatory year, your quantity-surveyor will advise you of how much you will be able to reclaim.

Your church may hold unrestricted funds or a building fund that can be added to the total.

With a high proportion of the sum already raised, invite your congregation to make donations.

If they do this by standing order for the remaining months of the year and apply Gift Aid, the sum can often be higher than just one-off donations.

Once the church members have made a commitment, invite local people to contribute (there is much more goodwill in most communities than most church members imagine). Run some events that are fun to raise the profile of your challenge. Use the electoral roll of the area to write a personal letter to every resident, inviting them to make donations.

Further opportunities will be available to particular parish churches. For one, the patron of the church made a generous large donation. Some may attract advertising on the planned scaffolding, and

earn as they build. Local authorities are allowed to make donations to heritage buildings, and occasionally one does: at least ask. Regeneration boards cleaning up run-down estates have contributed to external repair to complete the facelift of the street. In short, look for the unusual opportunities that occur in your neighbourhood.

I expect that most of these activities can be well under way, and many complete, by midsummer. This will enable you to assess your ability to raise the complete sum.

If there is still a gap, approach the diocese: it may be able to offer a grant or a low-interest loan to ensure that the work can go ahead by the deadline, and the Joint Repair Scheme grant won’t be lost because of your failure to raise your share of the money.

Grants from the Joint Repair Scheme these days usually have achievable targets. Tackle the challenge by breaking it into all the categories of potential income; share out the work according to people’s skills and interests, and you will be amazed what you can achieve.

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