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Budget for renewing facilities

16 December 2016

We are a bit flummoxed over fund-raising questions about a revenue budget. Someone told me that it is about whether we are “sustainable”; so what are we trying to do here?


NEW community facilities in churches are wonderful on the open­­ing day. But what activities will be going on, and how clean and bright and shiny will those facilities be, in five years’ time? Your pro­jected budget will give some clear answers.

The funder, making perhaps a large grant, wants to be sure that the new community space will be well run and cared for, and that the investment is not just for now but for the future, too. Consider whether the management of the space, the bookings, and the super­vision will be adequate. This is on top of administration: checking that people who use the community space are keeping to a good set of guidelines that ensure care for people, and care for the facilities and building.

Look at your budget for the next five years, and include a sum for management. If you plan to use a volunteer manager (sometimes this works very well) explain how you will ensure that the work is up to scratch. How will you ensure that care for people is up to standard? Will vulnerable people who come into your community space be safe?

Work out how you relate to the Children Act and care for other vulnerable people.

When you undertake lettings, the group that books the space is accountable for the protection of those who are vulnerable, not the church; but you might be wise, in your booking terms, to ask for the details of their safeguarding pro­gramme, and the name of their safeguarding officer. Who is re­­sponsible for health and safety? Are the details covered by your annual check by churchwardens adequate for this new kind of use?

My church, some years past, was required to fit safety covers on radiators, as they were too hot if touched by a toddler’s hands during play; is that necessary for you?

One of the most significant absences from the many church budgets that I have seen is an annual sum for the maintenance, repair, and renewal of the com­munity facilities. Annually, sums will be needed: for example, for electrical checks, lift contracts, dealing with taps and plugs and tiles, and the rest.

Who is going to check regularly for minor (or major) repairs? And, if emergency work is needed, does that person have a budget or the authority to act quickly and call in a repair person? Lavatory seats wear out, flush-handles loosen, un­­finished floors get a bad smell, paintwork gets tired and grubby, doors begin to stick or fail to close properly. Your architect can either help, or find someone who can, to estimate how long you should allow before your bright and shiny facilities will need to be replaced with a new set, and how long before redecoration is needed. Note that areas such as lavatories and serveries get grubby more quickly than the rest of the church spaces.

I usually budget for five years’ wear before a significant renewal of serveries and lavatories is required, and this allows a budget to be set: one fifth of the cost of renewal should be set aside each year in order that renewals can take place smoothly and well. (Allow for annual inflation in setting aside this money in your building fund.)

Now look at your annual revenue budget for three to five years. You have money built in for man­agement and administration, super­vision of user groups, health and safety checks, and keeping the facilities up to the best standard.

Watch this space for the second half of this budget question: how are you going to make sure that you have the income necessary to cover these costs? As a footnote, a church that ran the most innovative and creative community programmes led by volunteers was turned down by the Big Lottery, as its budget “did not ask for sufficient funds to run the project well”.


Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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