Sean Tully

Jul 20, 2023, 9:00 AM

Practical steps for keeping your capital appeal spirits high

This week I’ve spoken with two church pastors who are struggling to raise the funds they need for their church building projects. Both are relatively small projects (sub-£500k). Both have planning permission and are keen to get spades in the ground. Both have raised funds from their congregation and grant-making Trusts.

In any personal scenario, the amounts they have raised would be staggering – tens of thousands of pounds. Grounds for celebration, in fact. But it’s funny how a fundraising target can so quickly draw focus from success to a perception of failure.

The remaining target is always the thing that we focus on. Not that I’m sure these churches didn’t pause to celebrate and give thanks for the contributions already offered – who wouldn’t? – but in both scenarios I was left consoling two pastors who would rather be focussing their time and efforts on serving their congregations and communities than being concerned about where and when the rest of the money will be found.

Four positive actions
So what can be done if your deadline is looming and the money is not forthcoming?

  1. Revisit your Case for Support. If bids have been declined, can you get some feedback from the funders? Can you ask an objective third party to review your fundraising materials and offer friendly, critical feedback? Are there still gaps in your information that need to be filled?
  2. Revisit your prospect pipeline. Further research can identify funding sources that have not yet been approached. The number is finite, but check and check again.
  3. Revisit your plans. Are they still relevant to the needs in your community? To the needs of your congregation? No-one wants to have to start over, but then again no-one wants a building that is no longer fit for purpose. And no one wants to fund a building that’s not fit for purpose.
  4. Revisit your expectations. Most commonly in this scenario, the answer isn’t better applications. It’s to do with understanding the process – one which is highly competitive and which requires months of patient, focussed activity. Those responsible for fundraising usually need to hear that they are not alone, that they are successful already, and to keep going.

Sometimes external support can help to move things forward. Action Planning works with churches across every aspect and stage of capital appeals fundraising. If a free, half-hour consultation might be helpful, contact me for a conversation at sean.tully@actionplanning.co.uk.


Sean Tully

Sean Tully is an Action Planning Associate and a freelance professional fundraiser and charity consultant, specialising in Trusts fundraising, strategy and communication. Since 2008 he has worked successfully with the UK voluntary and not-for-profit sector, helping organisations to strategically plan for and pursue income from Trusts and Foundations, Lottery and Statutory sources.

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