Friends groups

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Building and receiving support from the wider community.

How can a Friends group help your church?
There are perhaps a thousand church Friends groups registered with the Charity Commission, and many more informal Friends groups which exist to support the life of the local church.

Many are in more rural communities, but there are many in our towns and cities and the number is growing. 

Friends groups provide an additional income stream for the church but the amount varies considerably from place to place. Income of £1,000-£2,000 a year is not unusual; a reasonable median figure for an active Friends group is between £4,000 and £5,000 p.a. 

Friends groups have potential to help with church finances, but this is not easy money. Note that:  
  • Friends groups should have their centre of gravity outside of the church congregation. It is a way for the wider community to support their church; the congregation are already giving
  • Most Friends groups focus on the fabric of the church building; they may assist for example with insurance and security but not day to day costs for utlities or Parish Share
  • Friends groups need an active chair and committee, and they need a good working arrangement with the church council.
For more information about how a Friends group might work for your church see Beyond the Collection Plate and for further guidance contact Cath Gaskell in the Resources Team at St James' House.
Case Study: St Helen's, Sefton
The Friends of St Helen’s, Sefton, one of ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’, celebrated their 21st anniversary in June 2014.

Staying the course has built a Friends group some 380 strong, many times larger than the congregation and with friends scattered across the globe. The focus is the church fabric. Projects include a prayer desk to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, a hand carved oak bookcase to hold a rare, early 19th century history of the church and the restoration of two mediaeval windows. Less glamorous but no less important is the replacement of rainwater goods, routine maintenance and a contribution to insurance costs. As a former vicar of the church comments, it’s quite simple; without the Friends we could not maintain this historic church.’