Broadcasting the seeds of practical fundraising

Anglican Diocese of Oxford

“Giving up a Saturday and travelling to attend a workshop is often a difficult commitment, especially for a vicar, but the topic of fundraising showed itself to be extremely popular. Bringing in Action Planning proved absolutely worth it and the response summed up that we got it right. We sat down afterwards and decided to add a third workshop to the calendar before Christmas.”

Julie Jones, Parish Giving Scheme Adviser, Anglican Diocese of Oxford

The Anglican Diocese of Oxford covers three counties, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, providing administrative support to 815 churches – more than any other Church of England diocese.

Fundraising was an area of the diocese’s function identified as short on resource, especially following the departure of Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood to become the Church of England's National Advisor on Giving and Income Generation. On Jonathan’s recommendation, Julie Jones, the Parish Giving Scheme Adviser, asked Action Planning for recommendations on addressing the need for churches in the area to access advice and support in developing their own funding strategies.

We proposed a workshop, in order to reach more people with practical tips and something of a reality check. This received an enthusiastic response, with the 30 places filled straight away, and a second workshop was scheduled in advance. 

After the first workshop, delegates were asked for their feedback. On average the day was marked 9 out of 10. A sample of the responses is shown below.

Q: What will you take away from this day?
“Very practical steps I can take to structure the work needed to get the project moving steadily and realistically.”
“Significant reassurance that we are doing the right things in approximately the right order and some key tips – really useful. Also some surprises.”
“Strategy. Realism. Need to recruit fundraising team.”
“Better understanding of where funds are likely to come from and how to go about obtaining them.”
“The enormity of a major project, but some direction and guidance.”
“Importance of prayer and vision. Practical information about grants etc.”
“A clearer sense of the direction needed and challenges we face – together with some sharp and pertinent insights and reminders.” 

Q: What reflections do you have about the content and process of the day?
“Very helpful. Good tempo and leadership, enabling us to be realistic.”
“Good timing and slides. Good amount of networking time. Well presented.”
“Well worth attending. I wish all my PCC members and campaign group could attend.”
“Content very useful. Format of day worked well.”
“I would recommend the workshop to anyone thinking about fundraising for a building project.”
“Pace. Well presented. Good content. Beneficial references.”
“Well structured and relevant.”
“Very informative, especially the step-by-step approach to what is needed.”
“Very helpful and useful hearing others in similar situations.”

Consultant’s insight:

When a church is contemplating a major development, an early objection that often arises is “But where’s the money coming from?!” It was great to be able to work with a group of committed and open-minded representatives from a significant number of churches in the same diocese, in particular helping them to understand and apply the fundraising principle of ‘ever increasing circles’.

The temptation is to start by looking for help from outside, but the principle of ‘ever increasing circles’ says that you start right at the heart of the church – with the leadership team, the PCC, the most regular attenders, the most faithful givers – and gradually work outwards. And it is a truism of fundraising that the further out from the centre you look, your fundraising gets harder, takes longer and becomes more expensive.

We are delighted with the feedback to the workshop, because it shows that these principles have got across and delegates should now be able to plan their fundraising in a practical and pragmatic way, greatly increasing the chances of success.

To discuss a STRATEGic plan for your organisation, enquire now