We have worked for more than a year with our architect
to produce a plan for developing our church and centre for more use
by people in the area. Now we want to move on to fund-raising,
having spent quite a lot so far on developing our plans, but we
think we are ready to move forward quite quickly.
ASSUMING that the bulk of your capital funding - and some, at
least, of the revenue funding for running your building - has to be
raised, you are probably looking at a large sum of money.
First, identify which, if any, of the big funders might be
interested in funding your project - either in part or fully.
Charitable trusts and foundations are a second stage, because they
will not be interested in, for example, contributing £20,000 or
less to a project that is aiming at £1 million, and has only ten
per cent of this in place; their money would sit idle in the bank
for too long while you raised the rest.
The rigorous questioning you will have to go through to get
large sums of money will help to ensure that your architectural
plans are based on real needs and demands; that your management
plan is robust for the long-term sustainability of the centre; and
that you are going to achieve your, and the funder's, targets.
There are fewer big funders than there used to be. The Big
Lottery has a Reaching Communities fund that can cover buildings;
the Heritage Lottery Fund may fund even larger sums for building
works where the resultant community activity has a heritage agenda;
and Landfill Community Funds may cover churches and community
buildings, although they have less money than the Lottery sources.
European Funding is being relaunched with new funding streams; some
of them may apply to you. Local-regeneration funding may be
helpful, although it is less abundant now than it was ten years
All large funds should be seen as investments, and the decision
whether you receive a grant offer takes into account the return on
the investment. That is not a financial return, but the benefits in
local lives - the benefits that you and your funder want to
Local demographics will give only an impression of need, as
sources such as the neighbourhood-statistics website lists only
need, not existing local provision; there may be many children in
your neighbourhood, but there may already be programmes for
It is important to consult local organisations, professionals,
and the people in need of the activity to ensure that you will have
a sustainable and well-attended activity. A homeless project in a
town that has only tens of homeless people is unlikely to attract
enough users, unless you have actual evidence from your recorded
experience, local agencies, and homeless people that your project
is exactly what they need.
Too often, church projects present a high-quality building with
excellent facilities without proof that those excellent facilities
will quickly be used to their full extent. The initial concept may
be based on perceptions of local needs, but the time- and
attention-consuming process of planning building construction
nearly always overwhelms parallel development of programme- and
A Statement of Need scratches the surface of this issue, and
should lead to a thorough audit, and business and management plans.
Your funders will expect these last items, and much more.
Questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.