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Grant funding – finding funders and preparing to apply

Grant funding often plays an important role in fund raising for a church repair or facilities project, but how do you go about searching for sources of grant funding and making sure you are ready to apply? Here are some basic tips to get you started.

Are you ready?

Often it can be tempting to start applying for grants as soon as you have a project in mind or know some work needs doing.  In a few cases, where there is a simple small project, a clear need and a reasonably sure source of funding this might be ok.  But here are some things you should normally consider before applying to funders to check you are ready:

  •  Have you considered how much money you can raise in total, from grant funders or other sources? Most grant funders will only fund a small percentage of your overall project cost, so an application to a single grant funder will need to be part of a funding strategy or budget that shows what your other sources of funding might be.  Assessing how much you might be able to raise will also help you define the scale of your project before spending money on specifications, surveys etc.  You will need to look carefully at the grants that might be available for your project paying close attention to the eligibility criteria, requirements for match funding, deadlines and so on.  The following templates may be useful for prioritising grant funders, and keeping track of fundraising (click for links).
  • Do you have an up to date Quinquennial Inspection Report, or alternatively a supplementary or interim report from your architect?  Some grant funders will require this to assess the need for the work, so check with the individual funder or your architect.
  • Some works require additional surveys or investigations, such as asbestos surveys, bat or other wildlife surveys.  If required, the surveys may need to be completed before applying for grants and be up to date.  You may also need specific licenses/permits to carry out work, particularly in the case of bats.
  • Do you have the necessary permissions such as a faculty or planning permission (if required)?  See the Faculties area of our website.
  • At the time you apply, most grant funders will need an up to date quote for the work, and some will require you to have gone to tender and sought three quotes for the work.  Your architect can normally guide you through this tender process.
  • Do you have support from the community, and as much evidence for this as possible? Evidence might include details of past events and activities, referring to social media or other places where events are advertised, letters of support, the results of a survey or comments in a visitors book.

Further resources:

‘How to fund the things you wish to do’ – a useful short video produced by the Diocese of Lincoln about applying for grant funding. 

How to plan for a major church capital appeal – Understanding what steps to take before you even start fundraising; what income streams you will need to engage with; what systems and resources you will need to put in place so your appeal is successful. 

Building a Case for Support – Video recording of a training session with Church Grants, looking at how to build a compelling case for support that will inspire individuals and grant-making Trusts to give to your campaign. 

Finding sources of grant funding:

The following page on our website links to the Church Grants online funding search that all parishes can access.  It also has a link to the ‘Parish Resources’ website which has funding guides and lists of possible funders.

Grants and Funds from external organisations

These are useful tools for finding funders who might give to churches, but in all cases you should check the up-to-date information and eligibility criteria directly with the individual funders.  Pay attention to the funders preferences in terms of how your information is submitted, whether they like to be contacted with enquiries, and at what stage in your fundraising you should apply to them.  Funders will often publicise projects they have previously funded, which can help you get an idea of the type of work they support.