Christian Stewardship is our regular giving to support the mission and ministry of the church. It is part of the fifth characteristic of the Kingdom People.

Fundraising is distinct from this regular giving.

While the responsibility for supporting the mission and ministry is primarily the task of the church community, church buildings can be considered differently. Many church buildings serve as wider community resources and many are listed, which means they are considered to be heritage assets of significance to the nation as a whole.

Fundraising for church buildings seeks support from the wider community and can involve applications to heritage and community grant making trusts.

Experience demonstrates that successful fundraising happens where the church members are committed and generous and where there is a sustainable mission and ministry of active community engagement in response to identified community needs.

In addition, grant applications have been successful where there is good evidence that the projects are going concerns with sound and sustainable finances. It is these factors which give confidence to donors that their money will make a difference.

Raising money is a necessary part of our church life

Raising money is a necessary part of our church life. A number of PCCs have asked me if I undertake fundraising for church buildings, and although I do not, I do try and point you in the right direction.

Fundraising, including grant applications, is not for the faint hearted nor is it an activity for those with a defeatist attitude. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to convince other people to give their money to your cause.

So if you seek to raise funds for your church building, you need to be passionate about the reasons why.

You also need to do the research to understand the particular objectives, interests and requirements of the individuals and organisations from whom you are asking for funds.

Fundraising requires thorough preparation and a methodical approach. It is absolutely essential to tailor each application to suit the specific organisation which is being approached.

So look at their published information and identify the specific item(s) that will attract their attention and be of interest to the trustees.

A ‘scattergun’ approach using the same letter to all the various funding bodies will not work. In fact it can do more harm than good as you only have one opportunity to make your request. It is very difficult to go back a second time if you get it wrong due to poor preparation. You need to make every effort to get it right the first time you make the approach.

The changes in the economy since the early part of the 21st century have created a very different climate in which to do fundraising. Low interest rates have resulted in many grant making trusts having reduced incomes to give away.

The lessons of the Lottery Millennium Projects mean an increased emphasis on robust business plans which ensure the long term sustainability of projects. Preserving old buildings just because they are there is no longer considered a sufficient reason to give money; the new requirement is ‘increased access for all’.

Increased access is not just having the buildings unlocked, open and welcoming (this is the eighth characteristic of the Signs of the Kingdom), it is about helping people to understand and interpret the heritage asset for which you are seeking support.

Consecrated church buildings are vested with the incumbent and the PCC has the duty in law to maintain and repair them. Anglican church buildings are there for all the residents of the respective parishes.

In a way, an Anglican church building is ‘public property’ which is held by the incumbent and PCC for and on behalf of the residents of the parish. “It’s their building as well, not just ours” is a useful way to think about it.

Think through the implications of this statement – it is essential to invite, encourage and allow the wider community to be involved. Don't shut them out. Locked churches reinforce the impression that they are just for the members – i.e. as the private premises of a private members club. The parishioners may not 'do' worship but they often have a deep loyalty to the building. This loyalty can be very beneficial when it comes to fundraising for the building, but in order to gain their support you will need to consult the parish residents and pay attention to their feedback.

The parishioners need to be friends of the church. Effective community engagement is crucial to successful local fundraising. Start with what you have and what is already happening, consider what other opportunities present themselves.