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Let an engine do the searching

15 May 2015

We are planning alterations to install new heating, lighting, and lavatories, which will also help our local primary school, which needs space. We have done the planning and are ready to apply for a faculty. We plan to apply to trusts, but we can see that the Charity Commission website is a daunting maze; how do we find good trust sources?


I WOULD definitely not recommend the Charity Commission website as a route to finding trusts.

Your longer email mentioned several trusts that may be of help. Each of them has a website; so go online and fill in any inquiry forms, and review the application, guidelines, and forms.

For further grant-making trusts, there will be both local and national trusts who may be useful. Churches near you may have run their own campaigns to raise money - ask them which trusts helped.

The charity Directory of Social Change publishes directories of grant-making trusts, and, among them, includes regional guides broken down further into counties. You might well find locally relevant charities, as well as national ones.

Because yours is a large project, it might be a good idea to subscribe to one of the main online trust-search engines. I have found Trustfunding (trustfunding.org.uk) the most helpful for capital fund-raising for churches, and that the free search engine Funding Central (fundingcentral.org.uk) is not geared well towards church capital projects.

There is what seems to be, at first glance, a hefty subscription cost for searching; so you may prefer to start with books. In the medium term, however, the search engines more than pay off. Please note that they do not include the Landfill Community Funds, and a few other sources related to local and national government: for example, Coalfields Community Grants, the new grant scheme for roofs and gutters, or Section 106. The latter is administered through local authorities; so, if it might be relevant to you, contact officers at you local council.

Recent contacts with the Landfill Communities Fund suggest that the processes are becoming more rigorous: for example, the project has to be under way within a year of the grant award; so you may be advised to approach them later in your fund-raising, when you are nearer your total.

With a very large project, such as your church's, you may find a way to break it into phases. This will allow you to apply to the same external sources a second time, as the first phase is completed. It is better to have a phased project than one that has an unachievable target.

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

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