Grant funding comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes grant providers are interested purely in the building: its heritage, its architectural merit, the fabric of the build itself.
Others look deeper when considering issuing grant funding, taking into consideration the purpose of the building. Funders like these want to know what’s happening inside the church, and how any grants that are issued will be used in the wider community. For churches, it’s often this second type of funding that is more useful, especially when it comes to projects such as installing a new kitchen or other facilities.
Here, we look at some of the points to consider as you approach the grant funding process, from considering the community value of your space and providing evidence, to using your own community to demonstrate shared ownership and raise match funding.
It’s the first question you need to ask yourself and your committee. Why do we need these renovations? Why is it important that we have a new kitchen, or a new disabled toilet, or whatever facility you are adding to your church?
This question will start off a process that will get you thinking about the project ahead in a way that you can eventually communicate to funding providers. It will help you think about the vital role that your church plays in your community.
Tip: Don’t just consult your committee. Spread the word to your congregation, your community and local organisations in your area. The more feedback you can get, the clearer your community purpose will be.
Next step, who uses your church kitchen, or could use a church kitchen if you had one? Are there homeless charities nearby who could run a soup kitchen form the space, or a community of vulnerable people who could use the kitchen for regular events?
A lot of grant funds are looking for evidence of a need: a way that the grant can be used to improve the local area or the lives of a local group of people (ie young people, the elderly, refugees, vulnerable adults etc).
There are national funding programmes that can be considered, but don’t forget to look locally first. Your local authority may have initiatives to improve your local area, or there could be charities and organisations that are looking to fund projects like yours.
It’s important to remember that these organisations might not be able to fund the full amount that you need, but this isn’t a problem. Match funding can be an important step on the path to sourcing the full funding you need...
It may surprise you, but larger grant providers are often encouraged to provide funding if there is evidence of existing funding in place.
How does match funding help?
It may sometimes seem like these smaller donations won’t get you very close to your funding target, but to grant providers they provide evidence that your local community supports the work. It presents a sense of shared ownership in your church space – something that improves your standing as a community service.
Tip: for more expensive projects – such as structural renovations, extensions, significant repairs plus additional features like a new kitchen, it’s likely that you will need to source several grants.
Those capital letters aren’t an accident – this part is important. It’s well and good to have grand dreams for your church kitchen, but you have to have evidence to show how these dreams will become a reality.
Work with local groups and charities to assemble a case for your church: paint a detailed picture of your church’s role in the community and the benefit it could bring to your local area.
Signed statements from key members of these groups can help build a compelling argument – as will a plan for events/community services that will take place after work is complete.
Remember, a grant application is usually not a simple tick box form: it’s a document that requires a well-thought-out approach.
This is the trap that catches many churches that are looking for funding – they try to adapt what they are doing to fit certain funding initiatives.
If the adaptation is a comfortable, natural fit for your church, then brilliant – adapt away. If, however, you find yourself chasing funding – taking on projects and initiatives simply to source funds – you will find yourself in a tricky position later on. Only do what is right for your church and your community: grant funds should help you realise your ambitions, not create a stressful obligation that you carry for years to come.
It can be a difficult project to take on alone – especially if your committee consists of volunteers who have their own busy lives to live. If you are struggling, seek advice from a grant funding specialist who can help with the groundwork, put a plan in place and select the grants that might be right for you.
To find out more, you could contact GBA Limited, who partnered with Steelplan Kitchens on this guide. Visit www.gbal.co.uk or call 0115 913 3503 for more information.
Opening a cafe is becoming something of a vogue for churches – but it’s not always going to lead to a development grant. There are some key points to consider.
Know your competition
Take a walk through your local high street. How many coffee shops, tea rooms or cafes are there? What will be unique about yours? If it’s set to be another trendy café space where there are already half a dozen trendy cafés in your area, it will be harder to show funders the need for yours.
However, if you’re in an area that is in desperate need of a social space, it could play an important role in the locality.
Show enthusiasm for the project through community fund raisers. They might not raise 100% of the money you need – they may not even raise 1% - but they will demonstrate enthusiasm, camaraderie and that all-important shared ownership.
Take lots of pictures and collect quotes from people who attended on why they are so excited about the project.
During the late 1990s the church, working in partnership with the local community association, created the New Cross Community Initiative: a project incorporating 3 facilities in ownership of the church. This included a community shop, a meeting place and the church itself.
The project, located in a former coalfield area suffering from high levels of deprivation, aimed to address the lack of support services available. The project secured grant funds to convert the facilities into a multi-use space offering services such as IT and other learning opportunities, health and wellbeing activities e.g. exercise, cooking on a budget, and traditional church services amongst others.
Over the years, the project was able to continue to secure significant grant support from EU regeneration programmes, Lottery and a host of Trusts and Foundations as it maintained close community links and a partnership approach.
The inherent strength of metal and a combination of the benefits listed on this page mean that a steel Kitchen will far exceed the life expectancy of a standard wooden carcass kitchens in semi-commercial environments.
The polyester powder coated steel is impervious to water. No more swollen chipboard or rotting MDF.
The metal is fire resistant and the powder coat finish formulated so that no toxic fumes are emitted in the case of fire.
Unlike wooden/chipboard cabinets the Steelplan Kitchen carcass does not contain any material that may sustain, harbour or encourage insects or bacteria.
The powder coated finish means that the units can be kept to an extremely high level of cleanliness and hygiene at all times. Essential when used in health locations.
It looks great! The hidden steel backbone is dressed up with a choice of doors to produce whatever look and feel you want.