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.
This guide offers fundraising guidance and tips for rural churches with small communities and few volunteers.
Country churches are one of the most distinctive features of the UK’s landscape. Although there’s great affection for them, that doesn’t make it easy to pay for their upkeep and care, or for the ministry that happens in them. We understand the pressure on hard-working volunteers and that fundraising is just one of the many activities that need to be done.
While this guide offers guidance for rural churches with small communities and few volunteers, our fundraising hub contains more practical tools and tips for churches of all sizes.
Planning to fundraise can be likened to planning a hike. If you’re starting out, you wouldn’t begin with climbing the world’s highest mountain. So think targeted and manageable. Start small: a £1m campaign to totally refurbish your church will be very challenging and can hamper people’s enthusiasm for fundraising...
Of course you may not be in a position to choose, but if you can, it is a good idea to start with a small project and a modest fundraising target. This will:
Before starting a project, it’s important to understand the issues, needs and resources in your church’s local area. This ensures your work is relevant and helpful to local people.
Fundraising can feel impossible if the project isn’t clear to others. This can happen if the fundraising outcome wasn’t clearly defined at the start, or because what’s known as ‘mission creep’ happens: this is where a relatively simple and small plan gets new elements so becomes very complicated and expensive.
Start simple. Your first project might not be the most important one (especially if the most important one is very expensive or large), but it should be:
Make sure you get accurate costs for the project, and have several quotations as many funders require three quotations for your significant expenditure. If you have a listed building, funders are likely to expect (or request) consultation with a specialist conservation architect.
In fundraising, one of the hardest things to manage is the feeling that you are on your own. This can be difficult to handle as the reality is much of the fundraising activity is done by a very small number of people. So, to address this, do try to assemble a list of all the resources and people who can help you. These might include:
Rural churches can often earn money by providing services to visitors or to local people. Offering a paid-for service can be a great way of generating income, especially over the long term. Successful examples in churches include:
Especially in rural communities, church buildings are much more than just bricks and mortar. They can offer vital spaces for quiet time, reflection and connection.
Keeping your church building open enables people to find a quiet place to pray, it offers somewhere to sit and think, and it enables visitors to the area to enjoy any historical treasures or features in your church. If people have been to your church, they may be more likely to get involved in church events, volunteering or fundraising. You could have a donation box or contactless donation device (if possible in your church) inside the building too.
Keeping your church building open can help to combat loneliness in your local area. Loneliness can be exacerbated in rural areas due to physical isolation and more difficulty in accessing services.
Keeping the church open doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Simple things like having a welcome board outside and a kettle inside the door can attract people to your building. Some churches leave hospitality trays in the entrance porch or inside the church for walkers.
For more support:
There are many possible sources of donations for most church projects. Have a look at the list and think about which sources could work best for your church:
When thinking about funding, it can help to consider the amounts needed from each type of funding. Taking the total cost of your project, break it down into realistic amounts to seek from each possible funding type. It’s also important to remember that with more types of fundraising, it may feel much more complicated, but also makes it more likely that your church will meet its fundraising target.
|Gifts from the community||£1,000|
|Other local individual gifts||£1,000|
|Grants from trusts and foundations||£6,000|
|Income from summer pop-up churchyard café||£2,000|
|Total project cost||£10,000|
You can also benefit from Gift Aid on donations from individuals, as long as they are taxpayers.
See the Researching donors and funders guidance and template on the fundraising hub.
After you have gathered your resources and decided your fundraising activities, it’s important to work out a timescale for the project. As well as the time needed to deliver the project, it should also include the planned time for fundraising for the project. It’s important to be realistic, not to rush it but also not to have such a long timescale that your fundraisers or community lose interest.
It’s important to not lose heart. Stay focused, despite any disappointments which are inevitable due to demands for funding. Remember that there are funds available for church projects and there will be people who will help you to succeed.
It is really important to follow your plan, and meet your team regularly to evaluate how the church’s campaign is progressing. Only change your plan once you are certain that something is not working.
Keep going – all successful fundraising takes time.
Resources from Methodist Insurance
Particularly helpful for rural churches might be:
There are many other organisations providing support to small rural churches. We particularly recommend looking at:
Funders who often fund rural church projects include: