Our church is being encouraged by a few members to
fund-raise for a huge building project. But some of us are worried:
we think it is unrealistic.
BECAUSE some churches have managed to raise "outrageous" sums,
some of us may think large sums are possible; but others, looking
at their own resources, are less confident. A logical, reasoned
consideration of the possibilities is in order.
Use a few "sorting" criteria. If the target project is about
essential repairs, then outside funds may be raised from a few
sources. At present, government roof funds, Landfill community
funds, and the Lottery may be achievable grant sources.
Nevertheless, if your church is unlisted, then these sources are
much reduced - in reality to just the community funds, and, in this
case, primarily for facilities rather for religious considerations.
Landfill Communities Fund grants have a much lower limit than the
other main sources, although they are still considerable.
Community facilities in buildings can attract more modest sums
from outside, but those who make grants always receive more
applications than they can fund.
So, quite often, for facilities such as heating, serveries, and
lavatories, the church should be looking at the kind of sums it can
raise by itself and in its communities. Realism has to strike home:
this is not just a guessing game: look at your area.
Ask similar churches what they have managed to achieve. I say
this to many churches, and a number of them seem to miss out this
step, but it is incredibly helpful. Check around the deanery, find
out who has fund-raised recently, and talk to churchwardens and
those who organised the fund-raising.
Discover the methods they used, the events they ran, the
electoral roll, how members of the congregation made donations, and
even the size of the congregation and the committee that worked on
fund-raising. How long did they take to reach their target, and how
did they raise their spirits when energy flagged? What kind of part
did their priest play: was he or she the champion, the key
fund-raiser, the hand-shaker, for example? What would they do
differently if they did it again?
A priest who is expected to champion, administer, and lead the
campaign can do less of the other work with which he or she is
tasked. And not all the clergy have the fund-raising skills that
are needed: you may need to look further among yourselves.
Then look at the congregation. If your project costs were
divided between the members, how much would each need to raise or
donate, on average? Some will have disposable income or savings
that they can contribute if they are engaged in the project; some
will, instead, run coffee mornings, or craft or cake stalls to
People will donate or work beyond the call of duty, however,
only if they really see the need for the project, and think that
the sums involved for the work are modest, or not inflated by
This is the crux of the issue: those setting the fund-raising
target have to ensure that not only are the sums involved correct
(not inflated by design rather than practical issues), but also
that enough time is invested to get everyone engaged, heart and
And, of course, the fund-raising must not challenge the church's
ability to achieve its stewardship target, or it will not be
possible to maintain the refurbished church.
Send your issues and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.