Meet Andrew Rainsford

“My preference is to use grant aid to become free of grant aid. How can a grant now be used to generate income for the future?”


Having been involved in church funding since 1992 (and a Church Treasurer a decade earlier), I am hardly a new kid on the block, but I have only been with Action Planning for just over a year. So, an old new kid on the block.

Previously I have worked for three Anglican Dioceses (and in the last one produced results second only to London) with some time spent as CEO of a regeneration charity and also project management and service improvement within Local Government. Yes, I work with a number of churches but I also work with a dementia care charity, a refugee support agency, a development charity in Kenya and even a bus museum!

My preference is to use grant aid to become free of grant aid. How can a grant now be used to generate income for the future? How can a project now stimulate direct giving from church members to enable future sustainability? The early Church did not have a legacy of reserves to fall back on – although if your church does want a legacy campaign, I have done those as well! 

Influences are wide and various – I am a sponge in that regard. Longstanding influences have been Dr Robert Schuller, who wrote a lot about “possibility thinking”, Michael Heseltine writes powerfully about community regeneration, whilst the whole community enterprise sector thrills me and I enjoy engaging with it. 

Churches can seem somewhat niche in funding streams. Over the years I have engaged with projects that have completely reconfigured a listed church to create a community hall (in fact, I have engaged with more than one of these – and one won an award); heritage centres (did I mention that I obtained funding for a heritage railway station – just under £1m); cafes; community cinema; caravan sites; rainwater harvesting (to create drinking water); pv panels; solar thermal energy, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and even a micro-hydro scheme. I do like sustainable energy projects – it is doing the care of creation. 

Likewise, family experience of mental health problems and dementia lead me into those areas. My economic regeneration background is also useful. Indeed, I pitched for an assignment recently, did not get it, but they offered me a different assignment, which suits me down to the ground. 

Life is  not all about work. The phrase that I use is that I have retired from full-time employment. My wife and I have yet to fully unpack that statement as it is turning into “I have retired from full-time employer”. We have a project house (for which we await planning permission – the planners have an issue with a 14” step in a roof line) with a garden that has been effectively ignored for more than a decade. We are doing “big gardening” and I am getting quite adept at tree removal. 

We have a motorhome (or is it a mobile office?) and children dotted along the east of the UK, from Norfolk to Edinburgh. So, we trundle and see them and look forward to our first grandchild later this year. Church is small (the village has a population of less than 300) but we have managed a virtual service, with ad hoc choir (you can hear my rumblings on request) every week and will continue these, on a less frequent basis as we emerge from lockdown. We share our priest with a few other churches. 

What else to say? Well, life is good and I am inspired by the work done by Action Planning clients. It is good to work in a role that makes service delivery easier. You are doing “stuff” that I cannot do. We enjoy enabling that.