RURAL CHURCH BUILDINGS
How to look after, develop and utilise them
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6. Setting up a Friends Group
You might also consider Setting up a Friends Group. This can be a good way to harness the skills and fundraising potential of the wider community and widen your support base. A lot of people who don’t come to your church to worship may well care about the building or the project and want to help and a Friends Group can be a good way to get them involved.
Such groups usually start with the aim of raising money for repairs, but they can also become involved in other aspects such as community outreach work.
You should aim to ensure your committee includes both people from the church and people from other parts of the community. It is also important to ensure that either the incumbent or a churchwarden is part of the Group to facilitate good communication between the church and the Friends Group. Make sure you don’t cut across the Church’s existing fund-raising activities by reaching agreement on what the money raised should be spent on. The Group can make a grant of funds to the church body in order that the elected representatives of the congregation have responsibility for spending this without restriction or you can decide to fund-raise for specific things.
You can either set yourselves up as a separate charity through the Charity Commission or you can come under the umbrella of your PCC/church body and ask them to ring-fence an account for the Friends and benefit from their charitable status.
It is always useful to discuss the proposed trust deed with the Charity Commission, as well as your local adviser. Note that major grant givers will usually only make grants available to the PCC/or church council, as the body with legal responsibility for the building.
WHERE TO FIND MORE HELP
The National Churches Trust has guidance on how to set up a Friends Group and offers a model constitution nationalchurchestrust.org/friends-group-your-church
There is also a model constitution here
The Parish Resources website has guidance on running Friends Scheme. parishresources.org.uk/friends-schemes
London Diocese has also written a toolkit on setting up a Friends Group
Perpetual Fabric Fund
Church of England churches could also consider setting up a Perpetual Fabric Fund (PFF). This is a means of providing a capital fund to which anyone can contribute in the knowledge that their money can only be spent on the fabric of the church concerned. It is an arrangement which may attract substantial gifts or legacies from non-churchgoers – people who are reluctant to contribute to general PCC funds, but who are willing to support the bricks and mortar of a particular church. Further details should be available from the diocesan office.