Many renovation projects depend on outsourced grants and funding opportunities to complete, but raising the necessary funds can be challenging. However, St. Paul’s United Church in Oakville, Ontario, was confident that their congregants could rise to the challenge and come up with a significant sum of money for the lighting retrofit they were planning.
The church wanted a suitable longer-term solution to reduce the total energy used. After completing a Green Audit through Faith & the Common Good, the project team at St. Paul’s United decided they would tackle a major light retrofit throughout their entire building. Since the building was in relatively good shape, they were advised that the quickest energy-saving opportunity was to switch to LED lights.
With the help of a Faithful Footprints grant, St. Paul’s United expanded its bulb replacement to include replacing 84 bulbs and fluorescent tubes in their gymnasium, 21 light fixtures in one of their halls, and 23 small dome lights in their sanctuary and narthex, which were mini fluorescent bulbs.
Sorting Out Costs and Raising Funds
The Faithful Footprints grant covers two-thirds of a project’s costs, up to a maximum of $20,000 for energy efficiency-focused projects and an additional $10,000 if you are decarbonizing. To qualify, participating communities of faith must have matching funds that equate to one-third of total project costs and any funds required above the maximum Faithful Footprints grant amount.
Since the project scope focused on the efficiency of energy usage, St. Paul’s United qualified to receive up to $20,000. With the total cost of St. Paul’s project estimated to be around $23,000, the Faithful Footprints grant covered approximately $15,000. After receiving conditional approval for the Faithful Footprints grant, St. Paul’s United had to come up with around $5,000 to undergo the planned lighting renovations.
In addition to the church’s building maintenance fund, St. Paul’s United launched a campaign to raise funds to cover the rest of the costs for their lighting upgrade. The Turn on the Light Campaign laid out exactly where the money was going and the timeline of the retrofit.
The project team shared their plans with the congregation members, explaining how they would start with the balcony lights and slowly move towards the lights in the sanctuary.
Getting support for a cause can be that much easier when people understand the direct impact their donations will make. Harold Devenne, team lead, points to several reasons why their approach proved successful.
“Because we don’t have a lot of extra cash, the best way to raise funds is to give our congregation a specific project to fund. I find that if there’s a project, show them pictures of it, tell them what it is, tell them what it costs, and let them find a way in. As long as they can see and understand it, the money comes in fairly quickly.”
While encouraging congregants to donate with an envelope titled “‘Let There Be Light,” the project team provided the opportunity for congregants to support particular areas of the lighting retrofit by categorizing the renovation into three levels of lights:
- Pendant light - $272/per light
- Dome light - $36/per light
- Hall bulb - $57/per light
“It's a way to make them feel like they can contribute to any level, and understand what they are spending the money for,” Devenne says.
Within just four weeks, St.Paul’s United had enough funds raised from the congregation to cover their share of the total project costs.
“I was pretty confident that they were going to come up with the amount for the lights. I was surprised when we exceeded our goal and had enough to use for other building upgrades,” Devenne reflects.
Turning on the Lights
Since completing the renovations, St. Paul’s United has already seen a drastic difference in the quality of lighting.
“The LED bulbs add a little sparkle to the ceiling as well as more light than before while not being harsh,” Harold reports. “The new dome lights down the aisles and in the narthex produce more light than the old ones and look much better.”
With the recent upgrade, St. Paul's United looks forward to lowering its electricity bills. The church says they will continue seeking opportunities to reduce their energy consumption wherever possible.
Stay in the loop about St. Paul's Retrofit Project
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Faithful Footprints Program
The United Church of Canada’s Faithful Footprints program offers inspiration, tools, and grants to help its faith communities reduce their carbon footprint. With the Church’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2030, this one of a kind program offers up to $30,000 in grants towards energy conservation and renewable energy projects (conditions apply).
Faith & the Common Good is the delivery partner for the Faithful Footprints program. To date, we have engaged over 300 congregations, camps, and buildings across the country. Your participation in the program puts your faith into action and helps the Church reach its target.
Aleyxa Gates Julien is the PR/Communications Coordinator for Faithful Footprints and can be reached at [email protected].