Raising funds for community projects
From celebrating a marriage or blessing a new life, to saying goodbye to a loved one, churches bring friends and families together.
A guide giving specific help and assistance to churches fundraising in less affluent areas.
If you asked people to imagine a British Church many people may think of one of our great cathedrals, or a medieval stone building, set in the perfectly kept churchyard of a prosperous village.
In truth, of course, most UK churches have been built within the last 200 years and many of them are located in less affluent areas.
If you are reading this it is likely that you are a member of, or seeking to support, one or more such churches, and that you are acutely aware of the challenges of trying to fund ministry in places where there are high levels of deprivation.
This guide is designed to give specific help and assistance to churches fundraising in less affluent areas.
Both as a matter of ethics and to engage people who might want to give, it is important that the things you are raising money for make a meaningful connection to people. A general appeal for “church funds” is uninspiring, even for those who attend regularly. Both congregation members and your wider community are far more likely to be responsive to appeals that:
It's important to consider the ethics of asking for donations - of all demographic or socio-economic statuses. Here are a few pointers to think about:
Giving to your church does not necessarily have to mean money. There could be amazing opportunities for people to give their time in volunteering, especially if your church can organise itself to make good use of volunteers who, because of zero-hours contracts, shifts, caring or other responsibilities, may not be able to do the same things at the same time every week.
Some projects that could make use of volunteers (such as keeping a churchyard neat or basic preventative maintenance to your building) are also really good ways for people to improve their mental health (particularly outdoor projects) and can develop skills that might well be useful to them in gaining new or better employment.
As with fundraising, lots of people, even those already connected to the church, may not be volunteering because they haven’t been directly asked.
One of the hardest things in fundraising is the feeling that you're on your own. So, the prospect of adding “do more fundraising” to your already impossibly-long list of things to do can seem daunting.
As much as possible, however, do try to involve others. All successful charities recognise that “everyone’s a fundraiser” and, in a church, the vicar, wardens, PCC and congregation members all have a part to play. Get everyone you can involved, even if it’s something simple like asking everyone to share a Facebook post with their friends.
Our guide on building a fundraising team offers top tips on how to build a successful fundraising team.
There are a number of possible sources of funds from outside people in your community, including:
Unsurprisingly funders always have more applications than they can fund. This means they are looking for those applicants who clearly meet what they are looking for and can show they will achieve what the funder wants to achieve with the money. A great application will do three things:
Most fundraising applications are not successful, so there will inevitably be some disappointments. However, there are funds out there for projects like yours, so stick to your plan, talk to others to encourage you, and evaluate how it is going and only change what you are doing once you are certain it is not working. Much fundraising, which would otherwise have succeeded, fails because people do not realise how long it takes and give up too soon.
If you’re a smaller or rural church, you may also find our toolkit for rural churches helpful.