Project Route Map

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6.4 How to Raise the Money

Church projects will usually be funded from a variety of sources; this guide looks at the typical range. First divide the task into internal and external funding.


With internal funding the aim is to tap into the enthusiasm of your own church membership.

  1. Capital Appeal: Run a capital appeal via your own membership and attendees. In most cases a substantial proportion of funds will come from direct giving from within the congregation. The key issue is whether the congregation are fully behind the vision for the building. As a rough rule of thumb after 2 years from your initial capital appeal further appeals will tail off by 50%. Get as much gift aided as possible.
  2. Regular Giving: Run an appeal for regular donations – on a monthly basis. Sacrificial giving tests our commitment, in the case of a church building project our commitment to being God’s people in a particular place. Once again, get as much gift aided as possible.
  3. Sponsored Events: Ask those involved in the church to run their own fundraising activities – a sponsored marathon, a car wash, a car boot sale etc…. These sorts of events may raise relatively modest sums, but will be important in other ways in providing an opportunity to generate enthusiasm in the wider community, and therefore connection with the project.
  4. Auction of Promises: This can be a great way of offering your time or skills to others – this could be anything from babysitting and cake-making to two hours with a chainsaw or the use of a holiday home. The point is that everyone has something they can give, and the community benefits of doing these things for one another can be just as significant as the money raised. If you can interest your local MP in your project, how about afternoon tea at the House of Commons…?
  5. Online: Raise money from asking anyone you know to set up on line giving systems such as ‘Give as You live’. Register your charity with them.
  6. Declutter: Sell your unwanted items on charity ebay, your local paper or at a place like: Ask a member of the church to manage the ebay sales on behalf of everyone.
  7. DIY: Offer a paid service to friends. Ironing, cleaning, washing, baby sitting….
  8. Borrowing (Internal): Sometimes members of your congregation may have access to capital that they are willing to lend at low or zero interest. This of course needs to be paid back, but can perform a valuable role in providing bridging funding while regular pledged giving comes in.
  9. Sale of Property: In some cases it makes sense to dispose of another building you already own, particularly one that is off-site, and to invest the money in improving your main building. Where possible it is best to sell the leasehold, even if on a very long lease, rather than the freehold – even if you can imagine no use for a building, future generations may well thank you.

For details of these and their phasing in a long term fundraising plan, refer to the Budget Template spreadsheet in section 6.3 which is available from the Downloads section.


The deliberate aim with external funding is to go outside your immediate contacts to a wider constituency.

  1. Grants: Approach trusts and take on a trust administrator part time to do the work of completing forms and sending them off. Note that grant-making bodies will usually want to see substantial progress being made in direct giving, because this demonstrates tangible commitment to the project. Use the Directory of Grant making trusts book or the online equivalents. Book available from: Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2DP; Telephone: 08450 77 77 07; website:
  2. Landfill Tax: Approach Community landfill trusts if you are within the radius of a landfill site. Tax on landfill waste was introduced in 1996 as a means to reduce the amount of landfill waste and to promote a shift to more environmentally sustainable methods of waste management. The tax then is redistributed in grants in the range of £5,000-£75,000; these are awarded with the aim of benefiting the lives of people who live close to landfill sites through support for community, conservation and heritage projects. Generally you need to be within 10 miles of a landfill site, and note that there may be more than one provider of grants in your area. Note too that timing is important with these grants – the grant needs to be sought once the project costs are well defined, but before a contract for the works is entered into.
  3. Commercial Giving: Approach companies that may have an interest in a specific element of your build – sports, community, youth, disabled etc…You can call these ‘Corporate Supporters’. Some companies support employees with a matching funding system. You can also ask for gifts in kind from local stores, companies and organisations.
  4. Locality: Run events that engage the community around you – that widens the net of the money you are trying to attract and also engages the community with the project.
  5. Section 106 Money: This is money paid to Local Authorities by developers of large projects to provide community benefit. Whether your Local Authority has any Section 106 money to give will depend on your location, and what major developments have been constructed in the last few years. If they are, they will be keen to dispense this money, as it is embarrassing for a Local Authority to have to hand it back to the developer if it remains unspent. To qualify for these monies, you will need to show a genuine community benefit – an example might be a daycare facility for young children. With the current political emphasis on ‘the Big Society’ (see section 2.2). Local Authorities are increasingly open to working with churches, who have often been faithfully doing this sort of essential work within communities for generations. It is important, however, to understand any strings that might come attached to any grant.
  6. National Lottery: Some churches are happy to take National Lottery funds, and use them for church purposes; others, particularly those concerned with providing debt advice and wishing to question our society’s attitude to gambling, may not wish to take this money. You may well have different opinions on this within your church membership, and it is important that you think through this issue together.
  7. Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme: Grants are available for urgent repairs to listed buildings that are in regular use as public places of worship. Note that these grants are dispensed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, replacing money previously given out by English Heritage. You will need to provide access for the general public to see the grant-aided work at least 40 days a year. You will also need to agree and implement a maintenance plan. Given that there is a high demand for grants, grants will tend to prioritise the higher grades of listed building.
  8. Borrowing (Commercial): Take out a loan, normally to be paid back within 10-25 years. See section 6.5 for more on this.

Some Thoughts On The Politics Of Giving…

There are no two ways about it – in most cases a substantial proportion of funds will come from direct giving from within the congregation. It is interesting to see this work across a number of different churches – often the most generous giving is not from those congregations with the wealthiest demographic. The key issue is whether the congregation are fully behind the vision for the building.

During the life of a project you may well launch a series of appeals, and it is important that there is a tangible sense of progress from one to the next – for example appeals might be made at the launch of the proposals, at planning, and after tenders are received. Before any appeal is made, however, it is often good for the church leadership (PCC etc) to make their own pledges – this sets a powerful example to others at the initial appeal.

It is often the case that a building project is a training for the congregation in sacrificial giving, and that general levels of giving resume at a higher level after the project is complete.