Gaining consent and securing funding are the two most important elements of a church reordering project. Gaining consent will be your first action. Once that is in place, you can seek the funds to enable you to carry out the works.
Establishing your budget
Perhaps the most important question you – and any funders – will want the answer to is the most obvious one. How much funding do you need to complete the work?
We always work with a Quantity Surveyor as part of our project team on our church reordering projects. Their expertise is invaluable in the earliest stages of a project because they will be able to provide a projected budget. This figure will allow you to assess feasibility for yourselves, as well as give funding bodies the information they need.
Funds from funding bodies
Funding bodies may be able to fund a percentage of your church reordering project. Bear in mind that each funding body will require you to submit your bid in a particular way. It may be worth investing in the services of a fundraiser to identify suitable funds and prepare the application forms.
At the same time, remember funding bodies will require you to fulfil a specific list of criteria to be eligible. Keep your vision front of mind when looking at these criteria. For example, if your driving force is to create a community building, funds for refurbishing church organs may not be appropriate for you.
Funds from the congregation
Your congregation and local community will also be an important source of funds. As well as raising the necessary funds, asking for financial support from those who care about the scheme builds inclusion and involvement in your project.
Fundraising can take place throughout the life of the project. St Matthias put a big cider barrel at the front of the church, together with their vision for their project – they raised a significant sum this way.
It is also possible there will be a number of rounds of funding for the project. This approach can be really helpful in getting certain aspects of the project over the line. For example, the team at St Matthias had a chart showing the number of chairs needed and how much each one cost. People could then buy a chair and the congregation could see progress being made against the target.
Having a long-term view and vision for funding is also very important. Many church projects are realised due to generous donations from people’s estates given as a gift in a will. This can allow a beautiful legacy to be created for people who have been involved or associated with the church for a long time.
Churches often have ongoing fundraising committees. The aims of these committees can be different to those of regular church goers, but being in one accord in terms of the overall needs of the project is key.
Funding support from the diocese
Your diocese may be able to offer an interest-free loan, although you obviously need to weigh up how much risk you want to take on as a church. The loan can be particularly important during the early stages of a project when you are spending resources, but funds have yet to come in from elsewhere. Loans can sometimes be paid off once the project has been completed through gifts from the congregation.
Sometimes, communities are willing to lend the project funds on interest-free arrangements. Care is required in these circumstances. However, if carried out well, they can be valuable sources of funding.
Ensuring value for money
Due to the sensitivity of project funding, it is vitally important to work carefully with the Quantity Surveyor throughout the life of the project.
They will establish and advise on the budget in the early stages. They will draw up the pricing documents that will be used in the tendering process when seeking and appointing the building contractor who will carry out the works for the best possible price.
They will then be on hand when the project is on site to ensure that any changes to the schedule of works are completed cost-effectively.
They will also be able to help with the reporting and auditing that will be necessary when you work with funders, draw on public money and also report to those who have given in an independent and unbiased manner.
Maximising the value of your funds
The Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme makes grants towards the VAT incurred in making repairs and carrying out alterations to listed buildings mainly used for public worship. This can save you a significant sum of money.
It is important to tell your contractors about the scheme early on as they will need to give you all the necessary paperwork to support your claim. It is helpful if they know this in advance so that they can prepare it while carrying out their regular bookkeeping
Having and keeping faith
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is around belief. When reflecting on the fundraising efforts, Sylvia Barratt, Churchwarden of St Matthias, spoke about the importance of belief: “It’s always having the faith to believe that the money will come.”
Working with church communities is always very special and it is inspirational to see so many people give so generously of their time and their finances. The church building has often been passed from one generation to the next. Seeing people receive this responsibility from the previous generation, then make it their own can be an incredibly enriching experience for all involved.