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When £1 million is not enough

by
14 March 2012

by Maggie Durran

We have a development project in our church, and have raised more than £1 million, but we still have some way to go. Can large trusts help us? What other routes do you advise?

I HAVE noted that at least one large trust — that is, one that could make a very large grant — states on its website that it is no longer contrib­uting to large projects unless those projects have almost all the funds they need. In other words, you will not receive large grants only for the funds to sit in your bank for years while your fund-raising plods on.

This is not a judgement on your project, but a symptom of the straitened circumstances in which we find ourselves. Trusts whose income depends on shares and dividends have suffered a significant loss of income, and therefore have far less money to distribute. Ask for their help when you are very close to the total required.

Alternatively, and perhaps wisely, you may split your project into work­able phases, do the work that you can now afford, and have smaller phases to follow, so that the trust can see that its funds would help achieve a specific essential piece of work. This will be more attractive.

Although there are few govern­ment funds left in the field, do keep an eye on your local council. My local council, although withdrawing many social and welfare funds, is handing out a “Big Society” fund in one-off grants. These are great when you can identify the benefits to everyone who lives in the area.

The central-government alloca­tion of just over £1 million to historic churches is being distributed by the Church of England and by the National Churches Trust. But this is a small sum when you consider the num­ber of historic churches fund-raising: do not expect too much.

Most of the landfill operators have £50,000 as their maximum grant size, and still fund church projects within specific parameters. This might not help your overall sum, but it could help with those specific follow-on phases.

One source of funds will be unaffected by the recession, that is, legacies. We are still not individually or collectively, as churches, doing really well on this front, and you could probably benefit from a well-designed, very specific leaflet that encourages churchpeople and neigh­bours to consider a legacy to the church. It should be designed with photographs of the church and its ac­tivities, especially Occasional Offices, to remind people of the loyalty that they owe to the church. Distribute the leaflet to solicitors in the area, as well as in church and with steward­ship communications.

The task of fund-raising in a reces­sionary climate also significantly increases the competition for funds. Your bids to outside bodies of all kinds need to be better than those of other people. Ensure that you are describing not only what the new project will achieve, but also how much it will achieve for how many people, and across what sectors of the community. Passion cannot compete with good information.

Many projects benefit from sur­pris­ing sources of funds; so do hold plenty of events, even if they raise only small sums. The friendships that result may lead to larger donations as allegiances are formed.

Send questions and comments to: maggie.durran@churchtimes.co.uk.

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