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Fund-raising: belongs to all

27 March 2015

THE availability of outside help for funding building projects seems to us to be dwindling. Is this true, or is it just that now that we face the challenge, it looks like a tricky mountain to climb?

FUND-RAISING from outside sources goes around and comes around as the years pass. At present, especially with the one-off roofs and gutters grants this spring, the availability of funds for essential repair works to the structure of the building, and its "wind-and-water-tightness", seems positive.

There are a few significant sources in addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund, although these other sources do not make the extremely large grants that may come from the HLF.

If your project is about adapting your building, some of the main sources of the 1990s and 2000s have disappeared, as a result of the recession; and many of the charitable trusts that were the most generous lost a great deal of "capital" in the same recession.

For adapting and altering your building, searching for funds is, to my mind, difficult at present. We are thrown more on to our own resources than we have been for several decades.

But don't be deterred. Set yourselves incremental targets that are achievable, and work stage by stage. These incremental targets may be financially determined, or you could break your building project into several less challenging projects, each of which will move you further forward in your church development.

Decide on your leadership for fund-raising - in the church and in the local area. A committee should have members with a variety of skills, including a "champion" as well as those with administrative and organisational skills, and should have six or seven members. Make this committee a time-limited one; members will need to chase seemingly impossible targets, and will not want to continue for too long.

With a relatively short lead-in, it will become the committee's task to draw in everyone in the church to take responsibility for earning, gathering, celebrating, and having fun until all the money is raised. The responsibility must belong to everyone, or, again, you will wear out your most faithful few.

After a period of drawing in church members, fund-raising events that target members of the congregation can begin, and every member can be thinking of small and large ways to engage in contributing.

The next stage is to develop activities that will draw in a wider catchment: people who want a challenge, or family events, or festivals and sponsored events. The list can be endless, but the success will depend on choosing activities and events that the congregation and people in the area will buy into; and challenges that people will enjoy whether or not they are churchgoers.

I think the committee should not even try to organise, run, or co-ordinate the small events, such as coffee mornings and cake sales, but should concentrate instead on the larger occasions that take well-constructed publicity and a team of people to make the event happen.

Above all, the church is a community of volunteers, and no one should feel dragged down by fund-raising. Here, the committee has its most significant part to play: the magic is to inspire everyone to go an extra mile willingly and happily. Don't forget that good organisers - even volunteer ones - get a kick out of a job well done. Communication throughout the church to create an environment of inspiring challenge is the key.

Send issues and questions to maggie durran@virginmedia.com

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