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Finding funding, filling forms

17 April 2014

Our church plans to enlarge and improve its old Church Room for both existing and potential use by new groups. Have you written any books on the subject of fund-raising and about church-related building projects? We are a small group with ex-teachers and some IT support.

THE answer is yes, to the question about the book. My UK Church Fundraising Handbook is still on target for most of your fund-raising, although the chapter on funding from government, local and national, is no longer very helpful, as so much disappeared from that sector when the recession and the changeof government happened. But donot give up on local-government funding: ask your local councillors and council officers if there are any funds that might help you.

Chapters on trust funding and local fund-raising are still relevant.

For grant-making trusts that may be of help, there are several possible websites. I use trustfunding.org.uk, and, although a subscription is expensive, it is better at finding sources of capital funds than other sites that I have tried.

Do check the Lottery funding streams. Each has its own independent and idiosyncratic processes for bids, and more than one may be relevant. There is the Big Lottery, that used to be called the Community Fund, and this may be helpful on a community building/hall; the Heritage Lottery Fund is good for church repairs, and for building works that are about getting a heritage asset used by local people; and the Sports Fund likes to support local-activity initiatives, and may be relevant depending how your hall is used. The Arts Fund is harder to access.

The Landfill Communities Fund does not show up on trust searches, but you can go to the Entrust website (entrust.org.uk), enter your postcode, and find your way to a list of potential landfill grant-makers in your area. These often ask you to fill in a preliminary form to check your eligibility, or even phone to check if you are eligible.

Once you have a list of potential sources, each may give guidelines on how to apply and what to tell them. About 60 per cent simply say "Apply in writing". My book suggests how to assemble a useful set of material to explain your project simply. Preparing the materials and description can also give you source material when it comes to filling out forms.

I always do the most complicated form first, so as to draw on its information for lesser forms. I also fill in bids to those able to make the biggest grants first, as these always require the most attention, and warrant the most care.

Your diocese may have an adviser on fund-raising who can offer access to online searches, or advice on local trusts that are church-friendly; there are many of the latter which are too localised to feature in national search engines. Similarly, other local churches may have relevant experience that can be of help to you.

With regard to finding your way collectively through the process of building works, I suggest that, alongside your appointed architect, you find and appoint a quantity surveyor, whose job will be to help ensure that the design and building processes meet your needs financially, and for subsequent use of the building.


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