Friends in a time of need
‘Do we carry out urgent repairs to the building or do we pay our parish share in full?’
Too many PCCs have to ask this question, which causes a lot of stress and often arguments over what needs to be prioritised.
With small congregations and PCC members already overloaded with work and responsibilities, one of the ways to inject new energy and income is to look to the wider community for help. As a way of doing this, establishing a Friends Group has proved to be an effective strategy to secure more support and generate more funds.
A Friends Group is a group of volunteers who don’t have to be church-goers and don’t even have to live locally but who have an affection for a church building and are willing to be involved in putting on events or making donations. The Friends are coordinated by a committee and exist in conjunction with the PCC. It is usually a good idea to have one or two people from the PCC on the Friends committee, which will ensure dialogue and collaborative spirit while keeping the two bodies separate. Separation is important, because while the PCC looks after the matters concerning church life, the Friends take on the responsibility of raising funds for maintenance and repairs to the church building and the upkeep of the churchyard. The funds raised by the Friends are given over to the PCC, and a clear agreement needs to be in place to ensure that this money is spent on the fabric. Membership in the Friends Group can be based on subscription, which means all members make regular donations. Alternatively, members can be nominally signed up and called upon when either funding or specific skills are needed. Friends Groups can exist as an extension of the PCC or as a separate charity. There are different membership models, different rewards a church can be offering to the Friends and an endless range of events the Friends can organise to boost the income! Regardless of what you do and how you do it, establishing a Friends group is a good way of reducing the pressure on the PCCs and securing support of the people who would otherwise not consider coming to church.
For practical information, please see www.nationalchurchestrust.org/involving-people/settingfriends-group.
If you would like help with setting up a Friends group or can share a story about how your Friends Group has made a difference, please contact Ana on email@example.com or 01603 882336.
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