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Raising Funds For A Rebuild


pcnd5584
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I would be grateful to hear from any contributors in the UK who have experience of raising a substantial sum of money in order to rebuild their church organ.

 

My own church has now been persuaded seriously to consider the state of the organ, with a view to a complete rebuild. Plans and a schedule of necessary and desired work have been drawn-up. However, it would be helpful to have some ideas regarding fund-raising. For this project, I do not think that a diapason pipe with a slot in the top, the mouth soldered shut and a begging sign attached to the front will generate enough revenue....

 

Any serious suggestions will be received gratefully.

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I guess you're going to have to try anything and everything.

 

An "organothon" is probably going to be a must at some point. Easier said than done, but if you can get coverage for it in the local media it might produce the odd copper (hopefully in the collection plate, not the tap-on-the-shoulder variety).

 

Just out of interest, how much do you need to raise?

 

And how many chamades are you adding? :)

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I guess you're going to have to try anything and everything.

 

An "organothon" is probably going to be a must at some point. Easier said than done, but if you can get coverage for it in the local media it might produce the odd copper (hopefully in the collection plate, not the tap-on-the-shoulder variety).

 

Just out of interest, how much do you need to raise?

 

And how many chamades are you adding? :)

 

Vox - to your questions, check your PMs.

 

:)

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Anne Marsden Thomas has been tirelessly raising funds for her mammoth organ project at St. Giles, Cripplegate. If you drop her a note she may well be happy to share her experiences and advice with you. Their project seems to have gone from a standing start to the point of bearing real fruit (the commissioning of a new Mander instrument) within about three years...

 

www.stgilesorgan.com

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I guess you're going to have to try anything and everything.

 

An "organothon" is probably going to be a must at some point.

 

This may be difficult - there are a minimum of two services each day, with a few days each week having three. On a Sunday, there could be anything up to seven services - although five is the normal.

 

Anne Marsden Thomas has been tirelessly raising funds for her mammoth organ project at St. Giles, Cripplegate. If you drop her a note she may well be happy to share her experiences and advice with you. Their project seems to have gone from a standing start to bear real fruit (the commissioning of a new Mander instrument) within about three years...

 

www.stgilesorgan.com

 

Thank you for that - I will attempt to contact her in the next few days.

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Guest Lee Blick
I guess you're going to have to try anything and everything.

 

An "organothon" is probably going to be a must at some point. Easier said than done, but if you can get coverage for it in the local media it might produce the odd copper (hopefully in the collection plate, not the tap-on-the-shoulder variety).

 

Just out of interest, how much do you need to raise?

 

And how many chamades are you adding? :)

 

I trust that Steve St. Bournias and Arty T Nobile have been appointed your Organ Designers.

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I would be grateful to hear from any contributors in the UK who have experience of raising a substantial sum of money in order to rebuild their church organ.

 

My own church has now been persuaded seriously to consider the state of the organ, with a view to a complete rebuild. Plans and a schedule of necessary and desired work have been drawn-up. However, it would be helpful to have some ideas regarding fund-raising. For this project, I do not think that a diapason pipe with a slot in the top, the mouth soldered shut and a begging sign attached to the front will generate enough revenue....

 

Any serious suggestions will be received gratefully.

 

The only time I have been near anything like this was about twenty years ago and it was raising money for a new large 2 manual tracker organ. All kinds of activities took place - people were persuaded to perform and donate fees - churchy activities took place etc. I am sure he will not mind me saying this but the then DOM also plodded the streets and managed to persuade masses of good people to pledge ammounts of money for a number of years etc. He worked extremely hard and we got the organ and a fine one it still is!

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N07978

 

AJJ

 

.......................and it has a Chamade pc!

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I would be grateful to hear from any contributors in the UK who have experience of raising a substantial sum of money in order to rebuild their church organ.

 

My own church has now been persuaded seriously to consider the state of the organ, with a view to a complete rebuild. Plans and a schedule of necessary and desired work have been drawn-up. However, it would be helpful to have some ideas regarding fund-raising. For this project, I do not think that a diapason pipe with a slot in the top, the mouth soldered shut and a begging sign attached to the front will generate enough revenue....

 

Any serious suggestions will be received gratefully.

 

Hi Shaun,

 

Firstly, congratulations getting this far!! The most difficult thing to do is get the ball rolling in the first place for a major organ project. From now on, the project should pick up its own momentum.

 

The next thing I would say is get somebody else to do the fund raising. It's a lot of work, a lot of stress and requires a great deal of perseverance. With a teaching job, plus your duties as an organist, you simply won't have the time required.

 

Our church has raised £270,000 for our organ project since 2004 and I've just had a look through at the statistics at how it was raised:

 

70% came from private donations (including gift aid returns)

20% came from events

10% came from grants

 

It took us 2 years - by the end of 2006, it was pretty much complete.

 

This is pretty typical - in fact I would say we did exceptionally well with the events and the grants, more on which later. But the clear thing is that the majority of the funds came from private donations and this is the usual case with organ projects - you'll never fund one from events or grants.

 

We did not have any major private donors who gave a greater proportion of the funds. The largest donor probably gave something in the region 3-5% of the total cost. This, again, is pretty normal when one isn't in the rare but fortunate position of having a major donor willing to give the majority of the funds.

 

Most of the donors were members of the church or the village community. Some of them don't come to church that often but the church is still important to them because they were married there or their children were in the choir there years ago or it's their family's church. There were a few outside the church or village but they are generally exceptions.

 

So how did we get them to part with major amounts of money for a new organ? Well, simple, really. Firstly, we were very democratic and included the entire church on the decision to go ahead with the organ project - we gave them the options, the pros and cons and likely costs of each option (including the electronic simulation option, which got no votes) and let the church take a vote at the Annual Church Parish Meeting, with them full in the knowledge that most of the funds would have to come from the church community.

 

After we'd got the go-ahead, we were soon in a position to select our builder and agree a specification and price with them. From this, we could set the final budget for the project and the target for the fundraising. This helped, as we were able to give people a clear idea of the organ we were getting and the fund raising target was a stationary one.

 

The fundraising project started with a launch event (actually, a presentation, a short free organ concert and a reception) to which everyone was invited.

 

We then wrote to everyone on the electoral role and people to whom the church was important (i.e. anyone recently married in the church, for example), with information about the project and inviting them to give a donation - either a lump sum or a regular amount each month, quarter or year.

 

We then followed this up with a personal visit from someone in the church to their home. One of the fundraising team drew up a list of who was to visit who and we were able to monitor progress.

 

You might think this was very forward but in actual fact, nobody minded people from the church arriving on their front door stop asking for money for the organ. Some people had a cheque ready to give, others wrote out a cheque then and there. Very few turned us away empty handed and if they did, it was because they weren't in favour of the organ project.

 

I would stress that I think the visit in person by someone was very important and without it, I think this strategy wouldn't have been as successful.

 

The other thing was to get the message right - it was not about a new flashy toy for the charming new Director of Music, it was about custodianship of what our forbearers had passed to us and a long term investment to maintain an excellent standard of music and maintain an important part of our church.

 

In the first parse, this raised about £160,000 from just over 200 people - so about £800 per person. This was really very generous but still left us £110,000 short of our target, which could have given us a bit of a headache. But the solution was simple - we just repeated the exercise a year later saying "we've raised xxx so far, all we need is xyz, are you able to give a bit more?" It worked.

 

The other thing to remember is Gift Aid - with this sort of money Gift Aid ends up adding tens of thousands of pounds...

 

Events

 

OK, a word or two about events. In actual fact, most events were offered by members of the church, who were often very keen to help with the organ fundraising in other ways than giving money. They would put together a team and get the event organised. Usually, at concerts the performers were friends of members of the church, so fees were waived, etc. We even got Sir Thomas Allen for an evening just covering his expenses, being a close old school friend of the treasurer's wife. That concert was a sell-out 2 weeks before the event, at £20 per head and brought in £3,500. How we got David Gower for a desert island disk evening, I'll never know but that event raised well over £2,000.

 

We did lots of events and had a rolling programme, which included concerts, evening talks, sponsored dog walks (surprisingly lucrative) and hijacked events like the village fete (which was good for a solid £3000 each year). Our most lucrative event was an evening of collectables and promises, which was a dinner in the village hall followed by an auction of items donated by people (everything from a sack of horse manure to a 3 week holiday in a villa on the Greek Islands). This event, beautifully organised, managed, publicised and executed, raised over £9,000 in one evening. It was like The Village Church meets a Beckingham Palace party with Elton John and Robbie Williams... But that's the way to raise the money required at these events!!

 

The key points I'd make about events are:

  • Make sure someone is in charge of the events calendar. We found pretty early on we couldn't have more than 1 event in every 2 months and it's quite easy to get events clashing or too close together without someone managing the diary.
  • Events also help to raise the profile of the organ project in the church community's mind. OK, they don't know much about the organ but having an event really helps to cement the church behind the organ project - and also help to cement the church community together (which is an important point to make when managing the clergy).
  • People who might not want to give money will quite often be willing to help organise an event or help out at an event - even if they are dead set against the organ project!
  • Make sure that you, as organist or Director of the Music, are seen to support these events and are positive about them, even if you don't think they're quite your cup of tea. I am not someone you would immediately think of being interested in the gardens of Getrude Jeykell and the chances of finding me walking a dog are remote but now I am a convert.
  • Organ Concerts - of any sort - rarely bring in more than a few hundred pounds net profit. Yes, great to do when you've got the new organ and we now have one or two recitals a year but I wouldn't bother that much with them to generate revenue.
  • Don't rely on events to raise all the money for the organ project or you'll be waiting a very long time for your organ!! Please bear in mind that many of our events were amazingly successful and were probably about twice as lucrative as the norm.

Grants

 

We spent a lot of time applying for grants and it was a Herculean effort for not much gain. There is a book of grant giving bodies, which I suggest you look through to find all the organisations which give money to organ projects. Many have strings attached to them - none more so than the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many of our applications were unsuccessful but those rare ones we did get, we normally had a contact in the organisation on the board who was able to help us through. We managed £5,000 from the Mercer's company and a similar amount from the Ilife foundation but it's rare for these organisations to give money for organ projects.

 

One Grant well worth going for is the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. It's something to do with tax relief if you live within a certain distance of a landfill site - which about 90% of the UK does! It quite often gives funds for churches - I know of one church in the area which received £60,000 to restore its peal of bells and we were able to get £10,000 from this scheme for the organ project. We had entertained thoughts that it might cover the remainder of the fund raising when we applied for it but in the end we were very pleased with the outcome - it was certainly the most lucrative grant we received!!

 

Lots of people in the church seemed to think that much of the money would come from grants and I spent a lot of time explaining that this wasn't the case and indeed, the 10% we raised was really very good going from grants.

 

Fundraising Team

We had a separate fundraising team to the rest of the organ steering group (who were involved with the tender for the organ, acted as clients on behalf of the church for the organ and managed the schedule of works to complete the organ). This was very necessary as raising the funds is a big job and requires a committee all of its own.

 

The fundraising team needs to be composed of do-ers - people who actually do work. It's good to give them their own areas to look after - the clear ones being:

  • Treasurer - monitoring the funds, doing the banking, etc
  • Press contact - building up a relationship with the local papers so we get space in the press about the project
  • Events co-ordinator - keeping the calendar of events running
  • Grant bodies - someone putting together the applications for the grant bodies.
  • Donations co-ordinator - the person who organises people to ask members of the church and community for donations.

That'll help take the load off the chairman of the fundraising group, which is otherwise a massive job.

 

I think the best people on the fund raising team are those that have retired fairly recently, when they have time on their hands and want something to keep them going. They also have a great deal of experience and wisdom, which was invaluable. We also had a couple of people who were on both committees so there was a conduit between the 2 groups on the organ project.

 

Summing it up, I think it's vital that the organ project is not seen as "getting a new toy for the organist". It really isn't. Talking to people, we raised the point that we had a sense of custodianship for our organ, which, despite some beautiful works of art in our church, is still the single most expensive item in the building. We wanted to respect what our forbearers had given us and do justice to their legacy by restoring the organ to a suitably high standard. We also took time to reflect what the organ gives everyone in the church, in regular worship, in music and at events like weddings and funerals. It is an important part of the church and the community and now we have this beautiful embellishment to our church, which delights and pleases all who look at it and hear it. While organists come and organists go, the organ is very much part of the church first and foremost and we hope that our organ will last another 100 years.

 

Another thing is that it's important that the church is confident financially. Not rich but just confident in its ability to raise enough money. Our church is, founded on a project in the 1990s which raised a similar amount for a gallery and new church rooms. It is necessary to convince people that it is possible for the church to raise the necessary funds but if they've given the green light already, you've already half won that battle.

 

Once you've won that battle, go for the scheme you like and don't feel you have to go for the cheapest quote. Go for the best organ you can get. The church can afford it, with faith and confidence.

 

I feel I'm very lucky. I am organist for a wonderful church which voted with its pockets for a quality musical instrument. I now have this beautiful organ to pretty much whenever I like and an appreciative and encouraging church community to work for. I really couldn't have it any better.

 

Good Luck!!

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I agree Colin that is very impressive.

The project which I was involved with many years ago, was much bigger than Colin's church project, and it certainly was very frustrating,

We did receive one grant, but 90% of the organisations we contacted, were not interested, and most did not reply.

It was obvious that with a project exceeding 1 million pounds, a professional fund raiser had to be employed, and a proven one at that. It is essential to accept the advice and recommendations of the fund raiser and treat them with respect. If this does not happen then they will just walk away.

Also, vitally important is to engage a respected organ advisor to report on the viability of the project. This would be expected by any donor. but what do you do if the organ advisor' opinion is that the project is not viable ?

Well, you carry on, but probably feeling deflated.

Our advisor was insistent that a tendering process must be implemented, and questioned whether the favoured organ builder was capable of carrying out the restoration. These comments were totally ignored and regretfully the scheme has foundered.

I say to Colin that the experts must be listened to, even if you do not agree with them,

I agree that organ concerts do not produce much income, even though we were not charged expenses, but if patrons are forced to listen to an organ not always in tune, then they are unlikely to give you another chance.

I have just donated a large sum of money to a historic organ project, not only because I was very impressed with the organist behind the project, but because I approved of the organ builder. Something to be learnt here !

Well done Colin .

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I agree Colin that is very impressive.

The project which I was involved with many years ago, was much bigger than Colin's church project, and it certainly was very frustrating,

We did receive one grant, but 90% of the organisations we contacted, were not interested, and most did not reply.

It was obvious that with a project exceeding 1 million pounds, a professional fund raiser had to be employed, and a proven one at that. It is essential to accept the advice and recommendations of the fund raiser and treat them with respect. If this does not happen then they will just walk away.

Also, vitally important is to engage a respected organ advisor to report on the viability of the project. This would be expected by any donor. but what do you do if the organ advisor' opinion is that the project is not viable ?

Well, you carry on, but probably feeling deflated.

Our advisor was insistent that a tendering process must be implemented, and questioned whether the favoured organ builder was capable of carrying out the restoration. These comments were totally ignored and regretfully the scheme has foundered.

I say to Colin that the experts must be listened to, even if you do not agree with them,

I agree that organ concerts do not produce much income, even though we were not charged expenses, but if patrons are forced to listen to an organ not always in tune, then they are unlikely to give you another chance.

I have just donated a large sum of money to a historic organ project, not only because I was very impressed with the organist behind the project, but because I approved of the organ builder. Something to be learnt here !

Well done Colin .

 

Thank you!! I think you raise some good points here:

 

Professional Fundraiser - the idea of getting a professional fundraiser was floated in our project and I thought the suggestion a good one. Certainly with a larger project, especially when you haven't got a close relationship with a clear "target market" you are going to ask for funds, I would have thought a professional fundraiser would be invaluable.

 

Organ Advisor/consultant & tender process - yes, absolutely! We were blessed with a brilliant organ advisor, which gave a lot clout that we were doing the right thing and confirmed all the advice we had received until then. Thankfully, the organ advisor and I agreed on the way forward and the various aspects of the instrument. He quickly gained my respect and confidence, we worked together well and enjoyed (and still enjoy) a close and friendly relationship. The advisor was instrumental making the church take the right steps through the project and led us through a tender for the work. Our Priest-in-Charge and PCC are very wise and realised they were out of their depth with an organ project so took the advice of the consultant. Our advisor was very experienced and professional and quickly gained the trust and respect of our Priest-in-Charge and PCC.

 

The tender process cemented the advice from our advisor as the organ builders invited to tender agreed about what should be done. I would have been happy with either builder invited to tender - we had already managed to eliminate those I didn't feel would produce an organ I would be happy with. Thankfully, the proposal we got from the eventual builder really demostrated they had the same vision as the advisor and I for the organ and being the cheaper of the quotes, it became a no-brainer decision. The agreement of consultant, builder and organist on all aspects of the organ and the happy relationship we all enjoyed has produced an organ with which we (organbuilder, consultant, church and organist) are especially proud of.

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