Providing the evidence to push a project over the line

St Mary's Church, Painswick

“The Action Planning team were very courteous and thorough. Sean clearly did his homework and David was very fluent when addressing a crowd. They ‘did what they said on the tin’. I absolutely know that as a congregation there’s no way we’d have been able to do the fundraising ourselves.”

Janet Jenkins, St Mary’s church, Painswick

Painswick in Gloucestershire is a picturesque village, dubbed “the Queen of the Cotswolds”. St Mary’s church has been a centre of Christian worship there since the 11th century, and the Grade 1 listed building is a highly valued feature among the local community. It attracts around 10,000 tourist visitors a year and hosts four international music events, featuring well known artists and drawing audiences of 300.

In common with many old churches, its facilities do not meet the expectations of modern event venues and meeting places. For the last decade or so, the church has been campaigning for a development that will improve the “warmth, welcome and flexibility” of the church building. It will include toilets, a kitchen, underfloor heating, a small office space and flexible seating.

The estimated cost is around £800,000, of which the church already has £300,000 in hand. Pursuing the remaining half a million, however, was looking like a mammoth task, so the development committee, having attended one of our Church Capital Appeals workshops in London, turned to Action Planning for help.

We were asked to carry out a fundraising feasibility study and recommend a fundraising strategy for the appeal.

Our assessment of the Case for Support returned an overall score of 6.5 out of 10. This was a promising start, reflecting a clear vision, tangible benefits for the congregation and wider community, cost-effectiveness of the project, a committed team and good reason to believe that the necessary funding is achievable.

We interviewed the new Rector, members of the congregation and local community and found that the overriding feeling was in favour of improvements to the comforts and facilities of the church. There were some dissenters, of course, but we gauged sufficient commitment to supporting the project to estimate a realistic income of over £325,000 from these sources alone.

Our research into other funding sources found 25 strong grant funding opportunities, which could be expected to yield over £80,000. This, together with the £300,000 already in hand, brought the total to within £100,000 of the target, a figure that we calculated should be made up by donations from parish households, the music society, tourism and local business.

With these figures established, we produced an action plan that proposed launching the fundraising in phases, starting with the church leadership and tourists, and included recommendations such as the use of electronic payment devices to make tourist giving as simple as possible. We presented our report in February 2020.

Our report provided St Mary’s development committee and PCC with a solid incentive to pursue the remaining funding required for the project, and a structured plan for going about it. This was well received, and the initial hope was to raise the funds within a year. With the country going into COVID-19 lockdown, this ambition will have to be revised, but the architect has been asked to draw up plans and illustrations in readiness.

Consultant’s insight:
St Mary’s Development Committee and PCC clearly demonstrated the value of careful planning and research – and of the wisdom of asking for specialist help when necessary. A huge amount of effort had gone into selecting and working with the architect, researching the church’s needs and appropriate solutions, and grappling with the various permissions that were necessary.
When it came to raising the money, again the church realised they needed specialist help, and two members of the Development Committee came on one of our courses to learn how to go about this. This convinced them that an objective, independent feasibility study could save them a lot of time and effort and avoid them going down blind alleys.

Once some semblance of normality has returned after the COVID-19 lockdown, we have every confidence that the church’s ambitions will be realised, further enhancing the experience of visitors and congregation alike as they come into this beautiful church. 

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