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Cash for the listed

05 December 2014

The restoration/conservation project in our church will cost up to £500,000, which is well beyond our capabilities - and available time. We are looking for a professional fund-raiser, and hope to pay for this support on a success basis out of funds received.

HAVING looked up your church on the internet, the first port of call for the structural repair that is needed would be the Heritage Lottery Fund. For a Grade II* church, this is the primary source for large sums of money to pay for structural repair, and for keeping the building wind- and water-tight. Grants are usually up to a maximum of £250,000, but occasionally will be higher when a repair project requires a huge sum and the work cannot be split up into sub-projects.

Then look up Landfill Community Funds with a search on the Entrust website for possible landfill trusts, and for enquiry details. Entering your church's postcode will result in list of potential trusts, and a map of landfill sites in your area. You need to be within ten miles of a landfill site to qualify. Landfill trusts can supply large sums; but bear in mind that the grant must, in most cases, be seen to be spent on the building contractors' costs, not on fees for the architect and other consultants.

Contact the Historic Churches Trust for your county, and you should be well on your way. The National Churches Trust, though it receives many applications, may be able to help, and some of its grants for repairs are as much as £40,000.

Most external grant-makers expect that supporters of the church will also make an effort through fund-raising events and donations. Local action also enables the church and its neighbours to feel "ownership" of the project.

On the question of a professional fund-raiser, for most parish churches - especially those in villages - the bigger fund-raising companies are not a good option. They are equipped and trained for donations from rich individuals and companies, and the parochial nature of the Church of England means that, on the whole, we have few such potential donors on our patch.

But you may find an individual with experience who can help you - paid or voluntary - with the work needed on the applications forms for trusts. The Heritage Lottery Fund, in particular, is heavy on form-writing and administration, and even the landfill trusts ask questions that the lay person may find challenging.

I always think of the possible return when engaged in arduous form-filling: it is the thought of the large grant that keeps me going. You may need a couple of people to keep on top of the paperwork, while one of them undertakes the writing.

The Charity Commission recommends that consultant fund-raisers are paid hourly, not by results. Paying your consultant as you go along, as each form is filled, keeps accounts short, and when a grant is received, there is no call on it apart from the project itself. Most of the outside funders for repair work would not think that paying a fund-raiser was an eligible expense anyway; so you may need to find the fund-raiser costs from your local fund-raising, which is normally much less restricted.

Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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