We are working hard to raise money from trusts, but the
number of those that actually help seems low. How do they choose
which churches to help?
THE work of the trusts and foundations that make grants has
become more challenging in the past few years. Not only is their
income lower than it was, but the number of applications has grown
as other sources of funds have melted away.
I serve on the grants committee of the National Churches Trust,
which administers significant funds for church repairs and
community facilities. I can tell you how it endeavours to
administer its funds as fairly as possible.
From the application forms received, a summary is prepared on
each church for the grants committee's perusal and assessment. The
committee considers many factors, such as the poverty of the
church's catchment area, the wealth of the church, funds already in
place (the committee likes topping out funds so churches can get
going), the ability to raise funds, how much hard work the church
has done to raise funds from all sources, and more.
At each meeting, the committee has a sum to give away, a
proportion of the year's total. We discuss all the cases
individually, and agree together if a grant should be given, and,
if so, how much it should be.
The grant meetings are just a few hours, and there are many
cases to look at. The work is made possible by the administrative
staff who receive the applications. They make phone calls, request
missing information, gain updates, and help organise visits by
members of the committee to some of the places that might receive
I am always impressed by the many ways in which both staff and
committee work to help churches improve their bids, not dismissing
applications where information is missing, instead asking for more
to be sent in. This may take time, but when handing out the
hard-earned grant money the committee wants to act as fairly and
helpfully as possible.
Financial information is really important, alongside correct and
up-to-date information on how much money has already been raised
for the building project.
While the committee recognises that building repairs may require
large sums of money, and, on the whole, cannot be reduced while
ensuring repairs are of the requisite quality, it is somewhat
averse to large, ambitious added facilities; it is far more
interested in supporting modest, achievable schemes for lavatories
As these latter grants average £10,000, they are of considerable
help to modest schemes, but not enough to make the difference on
the ambitious major schemes. The trust makes a number of repair
grants of £40,000 each year - the donors of these funds want their
money used this way - and these tend to go to churches with
challenging repair-project targets, such as roofs and spires.
The staff at the National Churches Trust enjoy being helpful,
and will happily speak to you on the phone to advise about grant
applications. Bear in mind, however, that they are preparing your
material for the committee that makes decisions, and will not be
able to tell you whether you would get a grant, but will advise you
on making out the best possible case.
Questions and comments to maggie
There are more conference days next year, offering help with
building projects and fund-raising. The first is on 3 March, near
Bedford. For more information, email