The reality facing most churches is that making a difference in your community costs money. The recent Bishop of Willesden’s Community Ministry day brought together local clergy and laity to share about their community ministry projects and also to share learning around fundraising and income generation, particularly from trusts and funds.
We have tried to put together a short summary of the learning and hope that this will be helpful to you.
Before you start
- Understanding the terrain – be clear about the needs you are meeting – do some mapping, research or a social audit exercise
- Create a vision and obtain buy in from your church community, include this in your Mission Action Plan
- Develop a business plan: why, what, when and how
- Research funders – look and research who you are going to approach
Applying for funding:
1. Realistic planning
When applying for funding develop a realistic plan and budget. If you are applying for a member of staff you’ll need to consider things like salary and on costs, working space, demonstration of need, recruitment costs and management costs. It’s also worth adding a contingency of around 20%, always over-budget BUT use real figures not rounded up guesses.
Be clear in language and presentation try and use business language rather than church language. Use pictures if you can to make the application more interesting and distinctive.
Create relationship with the grant maker – understand their criteria, ring them up, have a chat. Generally the grant maker wants to help you submit the best bid you can and will want to see you get it right. Also understand what interests them is it improving disabled access, reducing carbon emissions and then incorporate this into your bid.
It is worth making sure your website is up to date and if you have a fundraising campaign going on its worth having that clearly on there. Grant officers will check to make sure all the facts match your application so make this as easy as possible.
5. Be accurate
It sounds obvious but make sure you provide the right information, e.g. include your financial data – the most recent. Show match to criteria and priorities and provide what’s requested. Above all make sure you get your application in on time!
6. Don’t duplicate
You need to have complimentary projects not duplicates of what others are doing. Grant makers talk to each other and will know what else is going on in your area. Don’t just duplicate what another church is doing, try where possible to collaborate.
7. To the point
Have a clear statement in 25 words or less what are you doing. Some applications are disqualified by having too many words in the first sentence.
8. Show the need
Understand the need for your project and find a way to demonstrate it as well as the benefits your project will give in meeting that need.
9. Be sustainable
Be clear about how the project will be sustained once the funding has finished, be clear about what income sources you will develop to cover costs.
A caution from Bishop Pete was to ensure you don’t suffer from ‘user skew’ or ‘criteria skew’. The advice was to ensure you have a strong group holding the vision which you always check in with before choosing funders. A common problem is that it can be easy to drift into a place where you change the vision God has given you to satisfy the criteria of a grant application. It is also common to find that you may develop a space or a service for the community and totally exclude the church from being involved with this i.e. ‘user skew’. Ensure that the way your project is used is adding to your mission and ministry and closely tied to your vision.
Below are a list of useful trusts and funds recommended at the Community Ministry Day:
- All Churches trust
- National lottery
- Landfill Community trusts
- City Bridge Trust
- Spring Harvest
- Tearfund/Community Franchising
- Big Business volunteers and Christian Unions
- National churches Trust
- Garfield Weston
- Percy Bilton
- Heathrow Airport
- Jill Franklin Trust