What types of work will you fund through grants?
Our new grant programmes have been streamlined with The National Churches Trust's 2019-23 strategy, and are now live.
Generally, we are able to fund urgent structural repair works, the introduction of kitchens and toilets that enable the building to be more widely used by the community, maintenance and project development work. Sadly we do not have sufficient funding to support all types and sizes of church project.
Unfortunately we cannot fund work to ancillary buildings and structures; contents such as bells, clocks and organs (repairs and new); internal furnishings, fixtures and fittings; monument restoration; heating, lighting or reorderings. For advice on seeking other sources of funding see here. All of our grant programmes are competitive and sadly we are not able to fund all of those who come to us for help.
Cornerstone Grants - repairs to places of worship costing over £100,000 (incl. VAT and fees), and the introduction of kitchens and toilets into places of worship to widen community use, costing over £30,000 (incl. VAT and fees)
Gateway Grants - small grants to support the development of major projects either through feasibility studies or additional structural reports for example
Foundation Grants - small repair and maintenance works costing no more than £10,000 (incl. VAT)
What buildings do you fund?
The National Churches Trust accepts applications for listed and unlisted (except for the maintenance grant programme currently) churches, chapels and meeting houses of any age, as long as they are open for regular public worship (i.e. more than six services a year) and are located within England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. In the case of buildings that have been closed to the public, there must be plans to reopen the building for public worship and a congregation waiting to use the building. Congregations can be of any Christian denomination and must be the owners or have the right to carry out the work. If the place of worship is independent we expect it to be a registered charity.
Do you fund the building of new churches or conversion of existing buildings to worship use?
We do not fund the building of new places of worship or buildings that were not originally built as a place of worship, and from 2019 these buildings should not be less than 30 years of age. Neither will we consider applications from buildings that have been converted into places of worship, e.g. shops, offices or houses, and we do not currently offer grants to chapels within hospitals, hospices, schools or prisons or other such institutions.
Do you fund work to church halls?
We cannot fund works to buildings separate from the main place of worship, including separate church halls. We can consider applications for halls that are attached to the church building, or extensions to the church building.
Your remit is for the UK. Does this cover the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Scilly Isles?
Yes it does.
We are not in one of your priority areas, can we still apply?
Yes! Our priority areas for 2019 are Northern Ireland, Wales, and North-East England. These areas are not to the exclusion of other applications.
Most of our project is eligible, but there are some aspects that you list as ineligible under your current policy, can we still apply?
Yes. Please submit an application detailing the total cost, with a breakdown of costs allocated to individual works within the whole project. We will however only look at items that we consider eligible. If a significant portion of the costs are ineligible, or ineligible costs just bring the project over the eligibility threshold, we may reject the application, or score the case for investment lower. We prefer to see your full project cost rather than only those costs that are eligible. If work is phased submit the costs and income for that phase but invoice the costs for all phases too, somewhere in the application.
When should I apply?
The deadline for each programme is featured on the relevant page of our website. However in project terms - we expect applicants to all of our programmes to have 50% of their funding in place at the point of application. Applicants to our Cornerstone Grant Programme must have permission from their governing body (e.g. Faculty) in place, and planning permission if required.
What are the deadlines for receiving grant applications?
These are listed on each of the individual grant programme pages of the website.
Where can I find advice on applying for grants?
Details of our own grants programmes are available within the Grants section. Please explore the Resource centre for details of other organisations that may be able to help towards the cost of your project.
How do I apply for a grant?
Our Grant Programmes require an online application form to be completed - accessed via the relevant grants page on the website. Please note each form requires separate registration and log-in details.
How much shall I ask for?
We ask applicants to state what size grant they would ideally like. Be sure to check the guidance note of the programme you are applying to, to understand what the boundaries of the grant are as we won't award beyond the upper limit, and we will never award a grant that is larger than 50% of the project costs. If the cost of works subsequently comes in at less than predicted, we may reduce our grant award. If you request the upper limit, be sure to clearly express the case for investment.
I can't log-in to the application form - what is the problem?
Please check that you are trying to access the correct form and one that you have previously registered for. Each form requires separate registration. If you are still having problems, and have tried clicking the 'forgotten password' link, please check your junk mailbox for an automatic email. If problems persist, please contact the office for help.
I can't upload the supporting documents to the form - what shall I do?
First ensure that you have tried selecting the right file by clicking 'browse', selecting the correct file, and 'upload' - green text should appear to say the upload was successful. If you are still having problems, or your file size is too great, simply email the documents to us at email@example.com being sure to include the name and location of the place of worship in the title of the email. Please ensure you send missing documents to us within 5 or 10 working days (depends on the programme - see guidance notes).
We have already started work – can we still apply for a grant?
We do not usually fund projects where work has already begun. It is possible that your work may start on site after you have submitted an application to us, however we cannot guarantee that your application to us will be successful and the Grants Committee will wish to understand how you could commence the project without full knowledge of the funding situation.
After I submit an application, how long will I have to wait before I get a decision?
The time it takes to receive a decision varies throughout the year and between the different programmes, but it could be up to 6 months. Our Grants Committee currently meets three times a year. Decisions will be posted to applicants within two weeks of a committee date - please be patient! In the meantime we encourage you to apply for as many grants as possible as well as continuing to fundraise locally. Do not wait for the outcome of our grant before applying to other bodies for help. For further advice see here.
Who is the Grants Committee?
Our Grants Committee is made up of NCT Trustees and heritage and church professionals, see here.
How will my grant application be assessed?
An initial assessment is undertaken by a staff member. Applications must have all documentation with them and meet the eligibility criteria. Due to the volume of applications we receive we cannot chase applicants for missing items. Applications are scored against criteria listed in the grant programme guidance document (see each individual grants page for the relevant document). The scoring takes into account the need for the work, our case for investment, risk management and the significance of the building, including whether it is within a priority area, if the building is in use beyond worship, is at risk etc. The Grants Committee makes the final decision at meetings three times a year. Urgent and essential works, take priority.
How likely is it my project will be awarded a grant?
We cannot guarantee any applicant will be successful. Our success rate for the Cornerstone Programme is around 1 in 4 applications, due to demand. To help give your application the best chance of success be sure to check the eligibility criteria, ensure all documents requested are supplied, and consider the criteria in the guidance notes when drafting your application form.
If we are successful what are the conditions of the grant?
We list the terms and conditions of our grant offers in each of the grant programme guidance documents. In addition we will seek feedback from your project a year after project completion. Failure to submit feedback will be considered in any future applications. Conditions include: registration on MaintenanceBooker, submission of an entry to Explore Churches and to be open 100 days a year beyond worship.
Why should we donate to NCT?
Grantees of our grant programmes are asked to consider making a donation to us for 5 years after project completion. The National Churches Trust relies on voluntary donations, as well as the help of our Friends and a number of trusts and foundations, to support our work. Our grant programmes depend upon the income we receive and consequently our grants budget varies each year. We hope that churches can help us to continue the cycle of support for places of worship - and any donation you make will help places of worship across the UK. The size of donations varies but many give within the region of £50 to £100. We also recommend that at least 3 members of the congregation join as Friends.
Why should we be open for 100 days?
The NCT wants to encourage churches to be open beyond worship so that people can visit and enjoy the places of worship that we have helped to fund. From 2019, we will expect churches to be open for a minimum of 100 days a year and if a church is not able to do this at the application stage we expect to see details of how it will be met by the time of their project completion date.
Why should we be listed on ExploreChurches?
It is a condition of National Churches Trust grants that before payment is released a submission is made by the church for inclusion onto our website www.explorechurches.co.uk, a resource for both churches and visitors.
Why should we register on MaintenanceBooker?
It is a condition of National Churches Trust grants that before payment is released, the grantee place of worship registers on our MaintenanceBooker service www.maintenancebooker.org.uk. Please note there is no requirement to book services through the site.
Why must we complete a building maintenance plan?
We place great importance on maintenance and the usefulness of a detailed maintenance plan to ensure the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of a church into the future, and to help reduce the likelihood of future major repair projects. Our website has advice and resources about maintenance which you can find here. If you do not have a plan in place at the application stage we expect you to have one in place by the project completion date. The National Churches Trust have put together two maintenance plan templates which you can download from the Regular maintenance page and adapt for your own church.
I’ve been turned down for a grant - can I apply for the same project again?
If your application is refused you will be sent a letter outlining the issues. If you believe you have addressed these areas, or the costs or details of the project have changed substantially, then you can resubmit a new application to us via the online form. We expect resubmissions to complete a whole new application form with attachments, but information can be copied and pasted from an earlier application where relevant. Do not presume prior knowledge of the application. You should be able to access your previous application when you enter your log-in details into the application form.
We were awarded a grant from you last year for a separate project. Can we now apply again?
Yes. We will accept applications for each new phase of works or a new project. However we will not fund the exact same project twice. Equally if you were awarded a grant to address repairs in the past and you now appear to be applying to rectify the same problem we will wish to know that maintenance has been undertaken and that the new project is not the result of negligence.
We were given a grant from you but the cost of our project has increased. Can we be considered for additional help?
We advise applicants to ensure that sufficient contingency is in place at the start of a project to assist with any unforeseen rise in costs. We may consider helping if costs have risen dramatically however we will need you to submit a new application and we cannot make a decision between grant meetings. In most cases the Committee is likely to feel it has already made its maximum available contribution.
How do I claim the grant payment?
Please be sure to sign and return the acceptance form to us (within 30 days) when you are offered a grant, having read and understood the terms and conditions of the award - these can be reviewed within the guidance documents to each grants programme in advance of applying, though are subject to change.
Our payment terms vary between programmes so please check the offer letter, acceptance form and payment claim form for detail. Usually, we can pay a grant of over £10,000 once you have spent in excess of the grant award made to you on relevant works and within the offer period of your grant (one or two years), smaller grants usually need to submit invoices that show they are twice the size of the grant award (we won't fund more than 50% of the project cost).
You will need to submit bank payment details (this must be a copy of a bank statement or pay-in slip for the place of worship's account) if not already provided, an architect's certificate, the maintenance plan, and a copy of the permissions issued for the work e.g. Faculty. Some of these we may have on file from the application stage. Documents can be mailed or emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Grantees also need to submit a completed grant payment claim form (find template here if you can't find your original copy.
What is the Listed Place of Worship Grant Scheme?
The Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme (LPWGS) is a government-funded scheme which allows listed places of worship to claim back all or part of the actual amount spent on VAT on eligible works, including both repairs and modernisation. It is important that all listed places of worship check that they are eligible for the scheme as part of any project they are undertaking, as it can provide a significant saving to overall costs. When we look at costings for projects, we include the potential reclaim of VAT through the scheme within the funding income for listed buildings. Unless we are informed otherwise we will automatically assume that the full 20% can be reclaimed. Churches can claim their VAT from the scheme once invoices total above £1,000 (excl. VAT), and must be made within 12 months of the invoice date. Listed places of worship may also submit one claim in respect of works with a value of less than £1,000, but more than £500 (excluding the VAT paid) in any 12 month period. Further information can be found on the LPWGS website.
Where can I find a professional to undertake a repair project?
You could start your search through the Trust’s Professional Trades Directory. This is a partnership initiative aimed specifically at companies who have a particular involvement in the work of restoring the fabric of many of the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses. Please note that these organisations have paid to be listed and their listing does not imply endorsement or approval by the National Churches Trust – you should seek professional advice before engaging any contractors on a project.
Projects must be led by a suitably qualified professional, usually a professionally qualified architect (listed on the Register of Architects) or a chartered building surveyor (MRICS or FRICS). Where the building is listed, the professional MUST also belong to one of these conservation accreditation schemes:
AABC Register: The Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation can be found at: aabc-register.co.uk. Architects must be listed at category 'A'.
RIBA: Royal Institute of British Architects. Their register can be found here. Architects must be listed as 'Specialist Conservation Architect'
RIAS: The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland has a register here. Architects should be listed as 'Advanced'
RICS: Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Their register can be found here.
CIAT: The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists listed here, listed at 'Accredited Conservationist' level
We’ve applied for grants from other sources, but haven’t received responses yet. Do we have to wait until we get these to apply to you?
As long as you already have 50% funding secured through fundraising initiatives and grant offers, or from reserves, then you can apply to us. However, if it is a major grant than the decision is likely to substantially alter your shortfall. It would therefore be better to await their outcome. Please send us an update if any further funding awards are received after submitting your application to us. We cannot consider gifts in kind as project income. Volunteer time can only be included if it also is included in the project costs.
We haven’t applied to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Can we still apply to you?
Yes, as long as you have 50% of the funds confirmed and in place.
Please use the most accurate estimate that you can for the planned phase of works, as well as the project start date. Tell us if costs are estimates or based on tenders. Project costs should include VAT and fees (remember if yours is a listed building VAT can be reclaimed after payment, through the LPWGS scheme) and should be for the whole phase of work. We should be able to identify within your figures what is eligible for this. We often check the project’s costs with the professional overseeing the work. If your project cost is different to that in your NLHF letter please explain why – you may have decided to undertake some additional works or there may have been some changes to the costings. We do not include volunteer time as project income unless it is also within the project costs.
We haven’t yet raised 50% of our project costs, can we still apply to you?
No. Due to the demand on our applications your application will be considered ineligible at its first assessment by staff if you have not got 50% of the costs in place. This is one of the reasons we suggest applicants approach a major grant funder for large projects. Also, if it is a very big project, consider whether the works could be phased to make fundraising more manageable and to address urgent works first.
Our project involves both repairs and new facilities
The project costs should meet one of our eligibility criteria, e.g. the repair elements must be over the £100,000, or the kitchen/toilets must be over £30,000. The Committee will prioritise any repair works that are needed. Projects may include other items, but our funds will focus on the Committee's priorities.
Should we apply for all of the phases of our project at once?
If your project is phased, submit one phase to us at a time, referencing the other phases that will be happening. Subsequent phases may be eligible to apply to us again for funding.
We might not get Faculty/relevant permission for a few months. Can we still apply?
No. We require permissions to be in place at the point of application. For Anglican parishes this will be the signed Faculty certificate from the Chancellor, including the schedule of work, not DAC advice. Local Planning Authority permission should also be in place if it is required.
Why must we demonstrate outcomes and benefits, we just want to repair our roof?
It is helpful for us when talking to potential funders to understand how places of worship are helping or aiming to help the wider community. We also wish to understand how projects align with the aims of our current strategy. It is essential that we understand how projects are planned and what difference they may make in terms of people using and benefitting from the building. We need to know what the impacts of the grants we award are for buildings, their users and communities. We are also expected to report on this to the Charity Commission, as well as to our own funders. A well planned project should be looking to improve the whole sustainability of the building to help support the church into the future. At its most simple this can be done by refreshing leaflets about the buildings, or holding some events to encourage visitors.
How do we calculate numbers of new uses and new users?
Within most of our applications we ask how many people currently use the building – this should be any footfall figure you have. For additional information on calculating footfall refer to the 'footfall' tab on the Parish Resources site here
We also ask about the number of new users you expect as a result of the project, i.e. new people coming into and using the building. This should be what you anticipate within the first 12 months after the project has completed and is likely to be an estimate. It should build on your existing footfall, but should not include your existing footfall figures. You may have worked out some estimates as part of your project planning. In post grant monitoring we may ask you how many new users you have had. If you don’t already have a means of logging visitors we recommend you consider a visitors book or even an automatic door counter.
We also ask about the number of new uses you expect as a result of the project, i.e. activities that have been identified at this stage to follow the completion of your project, for instance a children's group that will meet in the church once the building is repaired, a lecture series etc. We should be able to gauge some of these uses from your other answers. Consider these within a 12 month period.
What additional documentation should be submitted with our application?
Please check the relevant guidance note to check what additional documentation we expect to receive with your application. These documents can be uploaded to the online application form, or emailed to email@example.com. Any documentation not received with the application should be sent within 5 or 10 working days of the application being submitted to us (depending on the programme). Accounts should be audited. Any photos being submitted must be clear jpegs.
Why do you request multiple quotes for some grant programmes?
We want to ensure best value for money - for you and for us.
We have some money in our accounts. Will this prejudice your decision?
We look at the circumstances of each individual case and the amount of money concerned. We request an audited copy of your Annual Accounts as well as the accounts for any Friends’ organisations and we do look through these. If there are unrestricted funds after meeting running costs that are not available or that cannot be used for this project, please explain what they are earmarked for or why they cannot be used within your application. We do not expect applicants to spend every resource on a project before we will consider awarding a grant.
Can decisions ever be made between Grants Committees?
No – decisions on grants can only be made by our Grants Committee at one of its meetings which take place three times a year.
"What if we don't agree with the decision?"
We are sorry we are unable to award every eligible and deserving applicant a grant. Out staff and Grants Committee have to make many difficult decisions in each round. Unfortunately we cannot change a decision made by the Committee. However, if there is a change to the project cost or income, you may be able to reapply.
What are the Local Churches Trusts?
The Local Churches Trusts are a group of independent charities providing locally specific support and advice to places of worship in the counties and regions of the United Kingdom, often on a county basis. Each has their own remit but they are generally able to provide funding, support and advice for building projects. You can find details on our list of trusts.
What is the relationship between the National Churches Trust and Local Churches Trusts?
We work closely with the national network of churches trusts to combine their local knowledge and understanding of churches with our national approach to support and information provision. Find further information see here, and contact them directly.
What kind of help can Local Churches Trusts offer me and how do I get in touch?
The Local Churches Trusts vary in the support they offer. However, there are several themes common to the majority of the network. The majority of trusts provide direct grant-giving, largely for structural repairs, but also in some cases for the installation of facilities to enable wider community usage. This national network holds substantial local knowledge of other sources of support, advice and funding which may be unique to a local region, so check the list for more details.
Why isn’t my area covered by a Local Churches Trust?
The Local Churches Trusts are all independently-founded organisations and unfortunately they don’t exist everywhere. Please look at our advice on fundraising here for ideas of other sources of funding.
Where can I find advice on sources of funding?