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While waiting to hear . . .

17 July 2015

We have a long list of trusts to which we want to apply for grants. We need to raise funds from them because although we have asked the Heritage Lottery Fund for the maximum it might contribute towards our repair project, even that will not quite cover the costs. What should we do now, while we wait to hear from the Heritage Lottery Fund about our grant application?


Your church has a large building-repair project, I surmise, as the maximum the Heritage Lottery Fund will contribute is £250,000. There are some trusts from your list that I expect will want to help you. There are questions to consider, however, about timing and processes.

Mostly, the trusts making smaller grants like to know that you have the majority of the funds in place before they contribute. A few will make a grant offer to you, making the funds available after the project work has started, but many others, which have minimal staff and administration, want to send a cheque when they make the offer. They don’t want to send money that will sit in your account while you raise the rest; so they postpose the grant offer till you have raised almost all the funds.

More recently, more trusts are requiring that any offered grant is taken up within a year of the grant’s being offered, and it can only be considered as a final grant closing up your funding gap.

So, spend time now on preparing your applications. Some will provide application forms, mostly on websites, but the smaller ones will ask for a one- or two-page description. Prepare the material for each, with a gap left for filling in “Money raised to date”, so that you are able to add a Heritage Lottery Fund offer later.

For the “Description” requested, prepare a paragraph that describes the church and its neighbourhood; a paragraph describing the church’s activities with community groups and non-churchgoers; and a paragraph describing your repair project, its extent and urgency, the professional designing and managing the work, and the estimated full cost, including VAT. Finally, include a paragraph that indicates how much you have raised, and from where, and the balance still to be raised.

Each description sent to a trust should have a covering letter that explains how your project fits that trust’s specific criteria, and how much you would appreciate their help. Always include the most recent church accounts, and several photographs of the repairs, but also of people using the church.

On all your applications and descriptions, present the project cost in full, including VAT, and show the expected grant from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme as income raised towards the project.

When you receive a grant offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund, there is a great deal of administration work to do, and you will be relieved that your trust applications need only a simple addition under “Amount raised to date” before sending them off.

The Heritage Lottery Fund allows just one year for the church to complete all the preparation, including faculty and going out to tender, at the end of which you will be required to show that you have all the funds in hand before they will release the main grant for the builder’s work; so look snappy in getting the trust applications posted.


Send issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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