Fundraising for Improvements

Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. Fund-raising is precisely the opposite of begging.

When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, “Please, could you help us out because lately it’s been hard.” Rather, we are declaring, “We have a vision that is amazing and exciting.”

Henri Nouwen,“The Spirituality of Fundraising” (2003)   as quoted by Ian Simpson, Church of England Birmingham

Sources of funding available

Putting together a funding package is often one of the most difficult obstacles in the way of turning the vision into reality and this is no less true of “green” projects than it is of major repairs, conservation or extension projects.  The “funding pie” is one way of visualising this. It has several ingredients and you need to be aware of them all and how you can use them.

Building maintenance budget – If there is already a budget, make recommendations for improvements especially when they demonstrate cost savings

Existing reserves – if a faith community has substantial reserves, other funders will expect a contribution for these towards the cost of the project.  Grant funders take reserves into account when assessing applications.

Major donations – these can come from individuals or local businesses and can be solicited (i.e. you write to them and ask them!) or unsolicited.  Asking for donations is giving people the opportunity to share in your vision, not ‘begging’.  

Wills and bequests – Leaving money in a Will can be another source of major donations.  Making bequests for particular improvement works means they cannot be used on day-to-day running expenses.

Local fundraising – Lots of small donations from community activities can add up to a sizeable sum.  These activities can also be a good way of showing volunteer involvement and community support.  Crowd funding platforms such as GoFundme, JustGiving, Spacehive and Triodos can be used

Loans – loans from individuals or from a faith community’s building fund, can help get a project started sooner or later, they may be interest free but will still need to be repaid.  Care should be taken before committing to this type of funding arrangement

Share offerings – projects that generate income or tangible energy bill savings can be funded in conjunction with working with community share offerings.  These are often solar energy projects.   

Grants and other charitable funding – and finally, grants can be applied for from different sources.  Grants, however, are often very competitive often with between £8 and £12 of applications chasing every £1 available.

Power for Good Community case study

Power for Good is a Community Benefit Society, owned and controlled by its members. Membership costs £1, and is open to anyone who supports its work. The membership form may be found on our website.

  • Power for Good charges for the electricity or heat generated.  The unit price is fixed, and so only rises with inflation. Over time, as energy companies’ prices rise, the costs to the host building become relatively cheaper. 
  • The income made is used to repay the shareholders, and to cover Power for Good’s costs.
  • Once the capital is repaid, there is the option of transfer of ownership of the measures to the host building.
  • Power for Good would like to work with any faith tradition
  • So far Power for Good has had two successful share offers, and installed solar panels on three Christian churches

It is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and able to raise funding through community share offers.

Big Solar Co-Op case study

The Big Solar Co-op is an exciting new approach to subsidy-free community solar, supported by Sharenergy. It’s working across the UK to:

  • Make solar viable on a huge range of sites – mainly community and commercial rooftops
  • Empower and support volunteers to work together to get it built
  • Fight the climate crisis through large-scale, grassroots community action

Sharenergy website says ‘We believe that community-led, community owned energy is a key gateway to tackling climate change while repairing social cohesion. Our ethos is to provide support exactly where it is needed and to work to build skills, knowledge and resilience in the co-operatives we work with.”