Raising funds for community projects

07 June 2024

From celebrating a marriage or blessing a new life, to saying goodbye to a loved one, churches bring friends and families together.

Illustration on people working together on large jigsaw

For so many of us, with or without a faith, churches play a major role in the big moments in our lives. From celebrating a marriage or blessing a new life, to saying goodbye to a loved one, churches bring friends and families together. But churches don’t just set the scene for our family moments and special memories; their role in bringing local communities together and supporting them over time is more significant than ever as society tackles a range of challenges.

It is important to remember this when starting to fundraise; churches can be encouraged that a large number of UK funders aim to support individuals in times of need and projects that strengthen communities. Focussing your fundraising narrative on these objectives can open up dialogue with a wide range of donors.

Fundraising – making your case for support

Raising money for a church, whether it is for the repair of a stained-glass window, the installation of new facilities or to fix a leaking roof, is ultimately about benefitting people. A church can be an important place for local people of all ages and backgrounds; it might be a space for classes, activities, events and support groups, a sanctuary of beauty and inspiration, the centre of a community’s shared heritage and physical history, a space for reflection, and a place of solace during difficult times.  In all instances, your case for support should emphasise the benefit your church can bring to different audiences. To those with faith, and those without; for those that already engage with your church, and the wider audience you hope to support.

Becoming a registered charity is an option many churches consider as they plan to fundraise. Having charitable status can open up many more funding opportunities, and help you secure charitable income.

How to stand out

Although each funder has its own set of objectives, they all share similar areas of giving when it comes to supporting communities. These are often about helping young people, reaching isolated older people, supporting children and young families in crisis, and building stronger, thriving communities.

You will also find that trusts and foundations often share a similar set of questions on their application forms. By thinking about some of the common questions asked, it will help you create your case for support. Remember – creating a compelling case for support is about telling your story with a mixture of head and heart.

How will your project benefit more people, and a wider group of people?

If you are fundraising to conserve cherished historic fabric, talk about how you are safeguarding local heritage for future generations to enjoy and also supporting local communities now. Your project can be an opportunity to tell new stories, that involve diverse, local groups. Different voices from across the generations will have different perspectives to enrich the interpretation of your building. This can open up ways to work with schools, colleges, local businesses, hospitals, libraries, civic groups – all with routes to engaging with a wider group of people and making them welcome.

Why are you best placed to deliver this project?

Think about your track record in supporting or engaging with people locally; you may be the only local building where people come together under one roof. Has that enabled you to be a hub of support for those in need? Or you may have a particular success engaging groups like young people, providing a social focus and volunteer activity. Talk about any successes you have had over a period of time and how you have built partnerships with other groups locally. Describe how you have created networks that you can now build on in order to grow activity; you may have a warden or volunteer with expertise such as counselling, IT, gardening; ask local people for quotes and testimonials which bring to life their appreciation for your church.

How will you measure the success of your project?

Funders want to see you have set some reasonable goals around success. This will help them gauge the value of their investment further down the line. If you can gather base line data at the start of your project this will help; it needn’t be overly complex. It could be a table showing the number of people involved now, against a target that your project will help you reach. For example, if you engage 10 young people in an inter-generational project now, a further 20 getting involved in your church as a result of a project, could be a measure of success.

In both rural and urban communities, churches are able to support a worshipping congregation and local people from all faiths and none. Capturing the breadth of your church’s audience and impact can be the key to unlocking funding.

PC screen showing church fundraising