A little preparation goes a long way

16 June 2021

Preparation and research - it may not sound exciting, but getting organised early can make a real difference for your grant applications.

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Like all projects that are important but not urgent, it might feel as if spending time researching is a distraction from your project and fundraising. In the long run, however, every hour you spend getting organised now will help raise the funds your church needs to continue its work and mission. 

Finding your funders

A key first step is to research possible donors and funders. 
 
To make the most of your time and ensure your fundraising is effective, it’s important to identify funders that are a good fit with your church. For example, there is no point approaching a funder who won’t fund building costs for your kitchen renovation project. 
 
Find potential funders who align with your mission, priorities and plans. Many grants are rejected, not because they are bad applications, but because they simply don’t align with the funder’s interests. 
 
Treat your fundraising application as you would a job application – spend time to understand if a potential funder would be a good fit for you.
 
We have produced guidance to help you search for funders, with information on where to look what factors to consider.

Writing your case

Regardless of which funder or donor you approach, you will need to have a clear and compelling case for support. A case for support is a document that tells your fundraising story, and highlights the need of your project. Read our guidance on why a case for support is important and how to create your own. 

Defining your need

When writing your case for support, take the time to really think through your church’s project and the need it is addressing. 
 
Are loneliness and isolation increasing? Has there been an increase in antisocial behaviour? Is your building at imminent risk of disrepair? Could this have a detrimental effect on the local community? 
 
Demonstrating the need in your case is vital. It is the answer to why potential funders should care about your cause.
 
Data and statistics can highlight the need for your project and why you are trying to achieve your vision. Your diocese or denominational body can often help provide information on statistics and the Church Urban Fund has an online look-up tool to discover more about the level of poverty/wealth in your area. 

Asking your community

Undertaking a community consultation can be another great way to demonstrate the need of your project. Some major UK funders, like the National Lottery, require evidence of consultation in your application; but even smaller funders that don’t require this evidence, will want to see that you have consulted with a variety of people.
 
By consulting your community, you will be able to demonstrate to funders the local need you are meeting and that your project is desired locally.
 
Talking to your community will also help to build consensus, create cohesion, and avoid negative responses to your project. Ensure you talk to volunteers, beneficiaries and your church team to gain their views. 

Methods to consult your community

Present your consultation period with people as ‘good news’, an opportunity to be involved in creating something good for the neighbourhood. Different ways to consult with people can include:
 
  • ‘Round-table’ in person discussion meetings 
  • On-line surveys (best known is probably SurveyMonkey)
  • Social media polls and questionnaires using platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • Questionnaires sent in the post, delivered around the houses in your neighbourhood, or placed in key community spaces like libraries, shops, schools. 
Make sure participants are aware that you are following GDPR rules by providing a tick-box for respondents to give their consent to data collection. For further guidance, a useful GDPR checklist can be found on the Church of England Parish Resources website. 
 
Remember – every hour you spend researching and consulting now will make your fundraising quicker, easier and more effective in the future. 
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