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When time is running out

22 November 2013

We are under pressure, as we have grant offers towards our building work that will expire in less than a year, but we still have to raise more than half the funds for our extension to house lavatories and a servery.

IN THE past few years, the amount of funding available through trusts has diminished, and trustees have become far more canny in the ways in which they assess the projects to which they will contribute.

The biggest funder, the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will contribute to essential facilities when making a repair grant, states clearly that it will only contribute to facilities inside the building, and for modest costs. That is close to summarising the attitude of many trusts: they are concerned to fund essential facilities as modestly as possible in order to fund as many as possible, and never wastefully.

There is a growing trend, also, towards offering grants that will expire in a year. Trusts or organisations do not want funds in their accounts to be carried forward year after year. They want to make offers where the work will go ahead, and results can be shown. Some trusts even ask applicants to reapply when they are nearer their total. So what can you do?

Clearly, it is helpful if you have explored thoroughly the building options, and use, if at all possible, internal facilities, with no extension. Erecting a new building, even a joined-on one, is usually far more expensive than working inside.

If you cannot take this route, then a thorough report should be prepared showing all the reasons why you have no workable choice except the more expensive external one. It should cover architecture, significance, needs of building users, cost, and other relevant issues.

Some of the trusts that have turned you down may want you to be nearer your total; so check and reapply. Start a new trust search, and see if there are other trusts to approach. Research your local landfill trusts, as they often are very generous in their grants to church and community buildings.

Prepare and use your Statement of Need. Make sure that you collect and use letters of support from those who do, or will, use the building; bishops' and MPs' letters are nice, but inadequate as a representation of local need.

Have you fully tapped all the local fund-raising potential? You may be able to raise gifts among church members, and organise fund-raising events that appeal more widely.

In addition, contact the contributor of the grant that is due to expire, and ask for an extension well before the expiry date. Remember that the lead-in time to a building project, even after all the funds are confirmed, is some months; so you will know with even six months to go that you are unlikely to hit the target.

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