We are adapting our church facilities for better use for
community activities. It is not a cheap process, as our church is
Grade I. The result of our applications to charitable trusts is
some small grants, but at the present rate we are not going to
achieve our target. Is there something we are missing?
IN ONE way, being a Grade I building makes your work more
difficult when making changes, but, in others, it becomes a saving
The adaptations required in a high-quality building are almost
always more expensive, even when modest in their extent. Busy
churches may need greater change, and an incremental increase in
costs. Grade I churches, however, are special, and a cheap
intervention would soon become tacky and nasty.
The best way to keep costs down when making such changes is to
limit their extent rather than the quality: this is more likely to
enable you to raise the funds, and for the resultant works to be
appropriate to the building. Only extremely busy buildings need
more than one (disabled-accessible) lavatory and servery. These can
often be achieved for more modest sums which may be more attractive
to grant-makers, who would rather fund two modest projects than one
There are several ways of moving forward when the grants are
only trickling in, and you want them to flood. Check that you have
covered every potential source. Look at Landfill Community Funds
(research your location on the Entrust website, www.entrust.org.uk,
and find out if you are eligible), as these grants, made by
landfill operators, are usually generous, and could cover most of
the cost of limited interventions.
These funds may be discontinued in a few years; so get ahead of
the game and apply sooner rather than later.
The next alternative is to modify your plans by phasing the
building works. Install the drainage and water supplies, and even
the lavatory, in phase one, then repeat the fund-raising process
for the other works, such as the servery, etc.
A further modification is to review the realism of your overall
plan. It is advisable, when planning works, to keep at the front of
your mind the potential sources of funds, and how much you might
raise, and then plan your works accordingly; architectural
feasibility is only helpful alongside financial feasibility.
Most churches can function well without an additional meeting
room, however desirable it seems at the outset; and, certainly,
gallery installations to give extra space are, in my experience,
often the depositories for leftover jumble, old hymn books, and
broken furniture. Galleries are extremely expensive to install when
priced in terms of usable space gained; remember you would need to
install a lift to give access to a gallery.
If you do not already have a pressing need for this extra space
- as in groups lining up to use it - then put this development on
hold until you are overwhelmed by demand. It will be far easier to
raise funds for an unmet demand than it is for an expected
All this means that you may not be able to afford the dream with
which you started, but you will be able to meet immediate needs and
leave open opportunities for the future.
But remember, if you borrow money to complete your plan, you
will not be able to get grants in the future to repay those