We have some significant stonework repairs to do on our village church, but we do not have much experience in applying to trusts. Can you help us to get going?
YOUR first task is to identify a few trusts that may help you with grants towards the work. The list on the Churchcare website (www.churchcare.co.uk) may help, but a diocesan adviser may also hold a list. Other churches in your deanery may have applied to trusts for grants, and so may add to your list.
I suggest that you start with looking up your county Historic Churches Trust. There are national charities, such as the Garfield Weston Foundation, Allchurches Trust, and the National Churches Trust; also the Wolfson Foundation, to whom you apply through Churchcare. You will also find smaller local trusts who will help.
Get two or three people to join you to run through the main forms and identify the information that you need to have at hand when you start work filling them in. The Garfield Weston Foundation gives a good introduction to the sort of information they need: who you are and what you do; who benefits, and how many people; what your building is like, and how it serves local people; what your building project is, and what benefits it will deliver.
You can use this basic outline to prepare text for other forms. Get your group to gather all the information that is required, from electoral-roll numbers and annual attendance, historical information, building-project information, and church accounts. Almost every trust will ask questions about the church accounts and will want to receive copies. Ensure that the person filling in forms either has the help of the treasurer, or is adept at extracting information from the annual balance-sheet.
Identify how much money has been raised, and estimate how much you will get from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme to offset the VAT on the works, and the amount that still has to be raised. As far as possible, ask each trust to contribute as generously as possible to the outstanding sum.
It is helpful to have uninterrupted sessions filling in forms so that you can keep track more easily of what has been done, and this is one main reason for gathering information before you start. Most forms today require you to apply online, although some allow you to print copies, which are useful for drafting. Let all group members have copies of the user names and passwords you use on the various forms so that they also review progress.
I have worked with villages where the poor broadband access made it difficult or impossible to gain access to forms and fill them in online. If this is true for you, contact the particular trust and ask it to help, either by allowing you to apply on paper, or by sending you a disk or emailed form that can be worked offline and then sent as a data file.
You can apply to all the identified trusts at the same time. Some of them may ask who else you are applying to, and will take that into account. If you receive more than you need, you can send back the latest payment with thanks for the trust’s willingness to assist you; it would not be honest to keep that grant for other works.
Send your issues and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.