Finding Funding

Don’t let lack of funding hold you back from developing a vision for how your building might be adapted to serve the needs of congregation and community. Sources of support can be unlocked in the light of a convincing plan.

Funding database

We regularly monitor information on funding sources, including regionally-specific sources and the best ways of accessing these. We have developed a database of over 80 sources of funding, cross-referenced to key types of repair need or development project. We are not able to put all of this online due to the size of the spreadsheet files, but we provide information below on several important grant-aiding bodies to help you get started. We are already using the database to help us provide relevant, timely advice to churches, so do contact us if you require further help in tracking down the right sources of help for your project.

Preparing your case

Most funding bodies are more interested in who the project will help (beneficiaries) than the physical improvements as such. In other words, they are looking for evidence of need and a solution that enables wider community benefit (for which, say, kitchen facilities and installing a toilet may be part of the solution to enable these benefits to be delivered). Therefore, if you are considering the development or adaptation of church buildings for wider use, we advise you to give some thought to identifying local needs and preparing a vision and plan to deliver wider benefits, increased community use, etc. This will help to underpin your project and strengthen your case. Funders may also look for a business plan that demonstrates how the project will be financially sustainable in future years.

Useful resources

  • The Heritage Alliance's Heritage Funding Directory is a free online guide to funding for the heritage sector, including churches. You can consult this free of charge here: theheritagealliance.org.uk/fundingdirectory.
  • The Architectural Heritage Fund also has a directory of Funds for Historic Buildings here: ffhb.org.uk.
  • churchcare.co.uk/...funding has pages offering advice to parishes on raising money towards the cost of repairing and developing their church building, and has useful links to a number of funding sources. It is worth exploring these pages in detail – there is a lot of helpful material here.
  • The UK Church Fundraising Handbook by Maggie Durran, Canterbury Press, Norwich, new 2010 edition. A down to earth ‘how-to’ manual and reference guide by a highly regarded practical expert in this field, well worth getting hold of and taking time to digest. Available from Church House Bookshop, Amazon, and other retailers.
If, after looking into these resources, you need further advice on funding for a specific project please contact the Inspired North East team and we will do our best to help.

Links to some key funding sources

NEW: Grants for Places of Worship - Heritage Lottery Fund - new arrangements now in place

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has now taken over management of the Repair Grants for Places of Worship fund, previously administered via English Heritage. The Scheme will be worth a minimum of £25m each year. There are some changes in the focus and administration of the new scheme:

  • Urgent and high-level fabric repairs remain the priority. However, up to 15% of the overall project costs will be eligible to support works that encourage the sustained use of the building, like kitchens, toilets, heating and lighting systems and maintenance ladders.
  • The maximum grant will remain at £250,000 but HLF encourages those seeking larger grants to apply to its Heritage Grants programme.
  • It will be open to all listed places of worship and is not dependent on separate allocations according to listing. It will be managed by HLF using English Heritage only for specialist (eg - architectural) advice.
  • There will be a greater focus on providing opportunities for those within and beyond the congregation to participate and learn about the building - - applicants will be able to request specific help in this area.
  • There are plans for four application rounds per year, with decisions taken at each of the quarterly HLF Committee meetings. The scheme will be open to all grades at each batch.

The timetable for applications to be received by HLF has been announced as follows:

  • 28 February for June Committee meetings
  • 31 May for September Committee meetings
  • 22 August for December Committee meetings
  • 29 November for March 2014 Committee meetings

Further details can be found here, including downloadable Application Form, Application Guidance Notes and other information.

It is also worth looking at other HLF programmes that can support local community heritage projects.

Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (VAT recovery) - now extended

If your church building is listed it will qualify for the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which allows you to claim back VAT spent on repairs, also (from October 2012) VAT on alterations. The VAT will have to be paid and then reclaimed from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. The scheme has been extended with an additional £30m to £42m annually. It is therefore hoped that this will enable full recovery of VAT paid on eligible work. However, it may still be prudent for churches to budget for a possible shortfall. The scheme is open to all listed churches and cathedrals used for regular worship.  Many items deemed ineligible under the previous scheme have now been included, such as toilets, kitachens, plumbing and security systems - please check the scheme website for full details, tems and conditions: Click here for current information on LPWGS.  

Northumbria Historic Churches Trust

The Trust's primary purpose is to help with the repair of Northumbria's historic churches, and the principal means of doing so is giving grants for restoration, repair and improvement of churches, contents and churchyardswhich are necessary and appropriate and carried out to conservation standard. Must be listed or built before 1946, have some special architectural or historic features or if unlisted be in a conservation area. Application form and guidance is available online at http://northumbriahct.org.uk. It is advisable to contact the Trust secretary to discuss proposed schemes before applying.

National Churches Trust 

The National Churches Trust have in recent years offered two grants programmes:
  • Repair Grants of £10,000 and above towards urgent structural repair projects. .
  • Community Grants from £5,000 to £25,000 towards installing facilities to benefit places of worship and the local community.

These programmes are closed now for 2012. New programmes will be announced in January 2013. For latest information please visit the National Churches Trust grants page here: http://nationalchurchestrust.org/supporting-you/grants/welcome-new.php 

Big Lottery – Reaching Communities

Grants of between £100k and £500k will be available for capital funding to voluntary and community sector organisations Funding will be available for projects of up to £750k for all types of multi-purpose buildings used by communities including memorial halls, community centres and village halls. The aim of the funding is to help transform existing buildings into community buildings which can offer a wide range of activities benefitting a broad group of citizens. Funds will be directed towards communities most at need - see the BIG eligibility checker.  Projects must respond to need, involve people who will benefit and achieve one or more Big Lottery outcomes: improve people's chances in life, build stronger communities, improve rural and urban environments, healthier and more active communities. More information: biglotteryfund.org.uk/prog_reaching_communities

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