Church House Blog: Fundraising update

In this Church House Blog, Emily Allen, Church Buildings Missioner, updates parishes on the fundraising opportunities available to them, including new grants from Christian organisations as well as local authorities. 


15 June 2020

By Emily Allen, Church Buildings Missioner



Church halls, along with church buildings, provide valuable spaces for people to connect. They can be places of encounter between one another and with God. Such spaces support individuals and groups to collectively gather to improve quality of life and wellbeing, as well as, on a community level, contribute to social cohesion and community spirit.

As the period of lockdown begins to ease, this may be a good time to get in touch with groups that previously used the hall, if you have not done so already. Also, consider responding to new COVID-19 needs of organisations and businesses in your locality, should you have the capacity and resources to do so. Some ideas are below.

New uses for church halls

The following is from the Church of England Giving Forum: 

‘The Church Commissioners’ Covid-19 Financial Recovery Workstream group have been brainstorming ideas on possible income generation ideas for churches looking to the future. Some ideas raised in recent discussions may be of relevant to the work you are all doing planning for the recovery phase, including the use of our buildings and the importance of generating income:

  • Churches/halls providing local space for COVID-19 testing and/or tracking and tracing activity.
  • A hub for community services (mobile library, Post Office, Amazon/other deliveries)
  • Large spaces to enable socially-distanced desks (for people/businesses working remotely without space at home), “classroom space” (for university/schools/colleges challenged by social distance rules) – subject to decent wi-fi of course!’

You may, therefore, like to consider getting in touch with your G.P. practice, health authority, local organisations, businesses, schools, and your local authority council to see if they have need of additional space and what is required to make this safe for all. Of course, some or all of these ideas may not be appropriate for your church hall. You may also have other ideas. Please do send in your stories and ideas. If additional funding is required, keep reading below.

Local Authority Small Business Discretionary Grant – update on eligibility

As mentioned in the Church House Blog of 04 May about Church Halls, on 02 May the website announced a top-up to local business grant funds scheme so that they will have discretion to make awards to small businesses and charities not covered by the ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant’.  At the time of the announcement, this looked like the appropriate means for assisting those charities (e.g. with offices), church halls and social enterprises that currently don’t qualify. The top-up grant is now known as a ‘Local Authority Small Business Discretionary Grant’. Since then, mixed messages on eligibility for church halls have been given by different organisations and different local authorities around the country.

On the one hand, churches and church halls have specific exemptions beyond the normal charity reliefs. This is a very significant advantage for the Church beyond what is normally available for charities where statutory charitable relief is only 80% with the remaining 20% discretionary (and not all buildings get this). This might be having an impact on some local authorities’ views on eligibility.

On the other hand, we have heard of mixed success, and it seems to be based on whether the building has a rateable value (even though their rates will be exempt). This seems easier if the hall is on a separate site to the church building and has its own rateable value. It is more complicated if either the hall is on the same site as the church or has been historically ignored as a rateable property (or conjoined with another neighbouring property). The response rate seems to vary by the local authority. Also, if there are shops, cafes, etc., operating out of a church building, they should also be eligible providing they have a rateable value too.

Therefore, whilst acknowledging that local authorities have also been hit hard and have little funding to offer, it may be worth enquiring for your church hall, given its role in helping to build social cohesion and community capacity. You can find out further information about your local authority via the hyperlink to the 'Local Authority Small Business Discretionary Grant' on the Charity Tax Group webpage.

Grant opportunities

Highlighted below are some of the new grant opportunities. As the situation is constantly in flux, it is best to use the compiled list of grants funders made available by several organisations, which are listed in the ‘Keep up to date with grant opportunities’ section in this blog.

Historic England has launched a second emergency fund. Grants of up to £25,000 will be offered to fix urgent problems at locally-cherished historic buildings and sites which are normally visited by the public, so that they can re-open as quickly as possible, subject to COVID-19 restrictions, and thrive once again. ‘Historic buildings and sites’ are defined as grade 1 and grade 2* listed; plus only those grade 2 listed buildings that are in a conservation area and a significant component of the character of that conservation area. The deadline for expressions of interest is midnight on 28 June 2020.

  • Local authorities and Parish and Town Councils
  1. Cheshire West and Chester area opportunities Members Budgets. Each Council Member has a total of £5,000 per annum to be distributed to worthy local projects. CWAC Community Response Fund. To access an application form, community initiatives will need to email
  2. Other local authorities. Community Voluntary Services (CVS’s) are across the Diocese, who are best placed to give details of specific funding opportunities relevant to your area, including local authority funding. A list of all CVS’s in our Diocese is available in the above hyperlink to the Diocese of Chester website.
  3. It may be worth contacting Parish and Town Councils to ask what support is available

Keeping up to date with grant opportunities

Different organisations have compiled lists of available funders:

  • Community Voluntary Services (CVS’s) are across the Diocese. They are a great organisation for finding out details of specific funding opportunities relevant to your local area. A list of all CVS’s in our Diocese is available in the above hyperlink to the Diocese of Chester website.
  • NEW: Ecclesiastical Insurance Fundraising Hub includes a list of emergency funding available, as well as providing other support and guidance.
  • Christians Against Poverty COVID Hub- a wealth of guidance, including a list of current funding opportunities.
  • The Civil Society. The Civil Society are compiling a list of what funding is available to charities during this time.
  • National Council for Voluntary Organisation (NCVO) This is the national body that works with local Community Voluntary Services (CVS’s). Their website has a wealth of guidance, including this update on the response from some of the grant-making trusts to the current situation.
  • NEW: The Charity Excellence website has a free searchable database for funding opportunities.
  • The Diocese of Chester website’s Fundraising Guide: section ‘Finding Grants’ has a list of searchable databases and lists. These include Parish Resources and 'Open for Funding' (previously known as GrantNet). Open4Funding has details of grant-making trusts responding to the needs of charities at present.

General Guidance 

  • The Diocese of Chester fundraising guide This includes a range of guidance, including ‘Finding Grants’
  • Church of England’s Parish Resources The Parish Resources website is developed by the National Stewardship team at the Church of England. It now has a dedicated page of advice during these times. The website is constantly being updated. As well as funding advice, it also offers parishes guidance on governance matters. This is the direct link to the latest national Charitable Grants for Churches.
  • Institute of Fundraising The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) is the professional membership body for UK fundraising. They have created specific guidance on fundraising matters during COVID-19.


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