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Few to tackle urgent issues

30 January 2015

This year, we want to tackle the issues of our building, from urgent repairs to lavatories and improved access. But there are only a few of us. Is there a good way to set out a strategy?

SETTING out a path for fund-raising will enable you to accommodate the realities of your available time and also the skills and realities of your potential income sources.

Two or three of you can head this up, but a wider committee may prove helpful. External sources of funds require a different approach from local fund-raising; so a larger committee can divide up its skills appropriately. A smaller committee will spread out the timeline over which it works so that no one gets worn out.

External fund-raising, from trusts and similar sources, is best tackled by two or three people. Paperwork can be intense, and, in the end, should be filled in by one person, but two or three should commit themselves to getting together all the "appended" materials, from photographs to annual accounts and projected budgets for work.

As this small group works, it will gain experience in what is needed on forms, and it is very helpful for more than one person to be able to respond to the enquiries that may come from the trusts that make larger grants. Keep an updated spreadsheet that records progress with all trusts and outside bodies, so that you lose track of nothing. Each grant application may apply to different phases of your building programme; so it helps if they are not mixed up.

Local church and community fund-raising can come from a larger group, and, although each event may have a "leader" who co- ordinates everything, the more people who get committed and involved in organising, from both church and community, the better. Fund-raising events tend to find their own appropriate time. A calendar of events spread over the year, taking into account the availability of volunteers, can evolve.

It is better to raise money for specific pieces of work, not the "general" building fund, but, if people are having fun, they won't mind too much. The hard-working committee, however, will enjoy setting out milestones for work achieved as it renews energy for the next phase.

It is important to express appreciation for those working at the fund-raising, whether in a group filling in forms or the more visible volunteers at church and community events. As each phase of work is completed, you should celebrate. Invite local dignitaries - even the bishop - to join a small reception, and people's work can be affirmed and rewarded.

I have heard people talk of "donor fatigue", but a well-planned programme that is enjoyable and successful becomes a way of life. That is why the programme is laid out with considerable reference to the time and skills of key people. Since everyone will be a volunteer, allow each of them to find their own sustainable level of engagement, and this will determine how you achieve your aims.

It is almost always better to break your programme of works into a series of achievable phases, so that the commitment of volunteers is not stretched to breaking, and is interspersed with celebrations of phases achieved.

Send issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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