Community Business in Places of Worship

Get Started

Developing any community business involves lots of work and there are some specific considerations when it comes to places of worship, but we can help you get started.

Click on the ‘toggles’ below to learn more about some of the key stages involved with setting up a community business in a place of worship and the support available.

If you are thinking about setting up a community business, please contact Plunkett in the first instance. Our advice and support is provided free of charge and we can link you with other organisations supporting this campaign as appropriate.

There are many types of community businesses, and we’ve seen some really inspiring and different examples being set up in places of worship. Whilst there are some sensitivities and limitations associated with this particular context, there’s still plenty of scope for you – and the rest of your community – to decide what would be the most beneficial to people locally. Take a look at the stories we’ve captured to get some ideas.

Consulting your community is a big part of developing a community business, whether it’s in a place of worship or not. Think of it as market research. Why would you launch a new product without knowing if there’s any demand for it? We can help you come up with some ideas for speaking to people locally to gather interest in your community business project and test ideas. This should include conversations with those who manage the place of worship and existing users of the building.

Every community business needs a strong team to drive things forward. You’ll want different people involved who are able to add a range of skills and knowledge to the mix. This should ideally include representatives from the place of worship.

One of the questions we are frequently asked is what legal structure groups should adopt. We have a wealth of expertise to advise you in this respect, as well as model rules you can use.

There are lots of things that need careful planning when developing a community business in a place of worship. On the one hand, you should be thinking about what your business will do and how services will be provided, the income and expenditure you expect, as well as having a firm idea of how this activity will benefit people in our community.

Careful consideration also needs to be given to how the place of worship itself can accommodate such activity. This may involve repairs or even adaptation of the building which is likely to need various permissions and certainly funding. Such work needs to be done sensitively, balancing the need for change with heritage and liturgical considerations. We have teamed up with a range of faith and heritage organisations that are able to provide you with specialist help and advice in this respect, as well as linking you with other groups working on similar projects.

If you’ve put together a business plan, you’ll have a good idea of how much it will take to start up the business, as well as the viability of trading activity thereafter. It’s likely, therefore, that you will need to raise funds to begin this work and there are a number of ways that you can do this. This can involve grant applications and traditional fundraising, however many of the groups we work with opt for a community share offer making it possible for people in the local area to invest in and get involved with the running of the business. We can help you put together a share offer and link you with funding available from our partners.

Whilst places of worship offer some great spaces for community businesses, they tend to be historic buildings which may need repairs or alterations. It’s important this work is undertaken by contractors with expertise in such buildings. Schemes like the Professional Trades Directory and Maintenance Booker, run by the National Churches Trust can help you find accredited suppliers.  There are also opportunities through our partners such as Heritage Trusts Network to link with other groups working on similar building work

Many of the community businesses that have opened their doors and begun trading are members of Plunkett. Becoming a member gives you greater access to information and advice (whether that’s from specialist support providers like us, or from other community businesses), it enables you to collaborate in the market place for better deals, and it helps you to reduce running costs. We also actively encourage our members to help us develop our services to make sure we’re continuing to meet the needs of the sector.