Sean Tully

Oct 10, 2019, 4:17 PM

Reflections from a church capital appeals workshop

Saturday 5th October saw Action Planning deliver the second of three workshops in partnership with the Diocese of Oxford. Representatives from 30 churches were in attendance to learn about Action Planning’s unique approach to church capital appeals fundraising, and benefitted from a full day of training, insight, networking and practical tools to apply to their own building project.

The day was delivered by David Saint, Action Planning Chair, and Sean Tully, who coordinates Action Planning’s church capital appeals work. Sean offered the following insights from the day.

We were sitting over lunch, sharing stories and experiences. We had already identified that the 30 different church capital appeals represented at the day had a total value of around £30million, and that every project was quite unique. I was about to find this out...

My first conversation was about a church organ repair project, costing around £260,000. If that sounds like a lot of money to renovate and repair a church organ, I was told about the one at York Minster currently costing £2million! Comparing notes, the story on the opposite side of the table was of another church organ scheme, which had already undergone around £100,000 worth of repairs… but the contractor had gone bust mid-project. Now the church needed to raise upwards of another £100,000 to complete a stalled project.

Someone joined us at the table. “What’s your project?” I asked. It sounded simple: a new toilet, initial quote £6,000. Then it got complicated. It’s a new toilet in a Norman church. Plumbing will have to skirt around the roots of the ancient, protected trees in the graveyard, and probably run under the gardens of the adjacent (privately owned) property. Latest quote: £30,000. To install one toilet!

Later I was talking with the representative of the largest project in the room: £8million to completely rebuild the church and incorporate a café and social housing flats. “How much do you still need?” I asked, slightly awe-struck by the scale of the whole scheme. “Well, that’s the thing,” I was told. “Our problem isn’t so much the money but the planning permission. We may only need around £100,000, thanks to some very generous Christian philanthropy and partnerships with social housing providers.” She then showed me a video clip on her phone of the rain water falling in torrents through the roof of the existing building.

Just as the recurring theme of the day was about how fundraising is about people giving to people, so the highlight for me was seeing people share their stories and experiences, frustrations and successes with the other people in the room. It was both uplifting and inspiring.

Of course, every project in that room had its challenges and also its strengths. Everybody went away with very practical approaches and will no doubt be back at their desks this week, making plans to apply them in their own circumstances.

If you are scratching your head about your own capital build project, get in touch to find out how Action Planning can help you to plan and realise your fundraising goals. Contact sean.tully@actionplanning.co.uk