Friends Schemes

Friends Schemes are groups set up to run regular fundraising for the church building. There is guidance to talk you through setting up a Friends scheme on the Parish Resources website here.

Friends Schemes can be successful but there are some very important considerations when you are looking at starting a scheme:

  1. How will a Friends Scheme compliment, rather than replace, regular giving? If the scheme targets people who would otherwise be encouraged to be regular givers to their church you will not, overall, increase your income. So it is important that a Friends Scheme is primarily aimed at those who would otherwise not consider regularly financially supporting the church.
  2. How will you structure the scheme? We strongly recommend setting up Friends Schemes as sub-committees of the PCC (or DCC) rather than as a separate, independent organisation. This allows non PCC members to sit on the sub-committee whilst still ensuring ultimate accountability for the fundraising and its income falls within the PCC.
  3. Would a scheme have longevity? Friends Schemes take a lot of effort to set up, from arranging the structure to organising volunteers, and it is important to have a view towards how the scheme will make a difference not just in the short term but in 5-10 years time. Are volunteers open to long-term commitment? Is there plenty of scope for growth? Do the events and activities of the Friends focus on short-term goals or on long-term support?

I am very pleased to be able to share a wonderful case study from Bisham Church Friends who have worked through all these considerations and built an active, engaging Friends Scheme which draws members from all over the world. I encourage this as essential reading for anyone thinking of setting up a Friends Scheme and you can access it here (written January 2021).

Lotteries, 100 Clubs & Raffles

Lotteries can be an appealing fundraising option for churches as part of a creative toolbox to raise funds.

100 clubs are a type of lottery which is limited to 100 tickets per draw, with a percentage of revenue used as the prize fund and the rest kept by the church. Larger varieties, such as 250 clubs and 500 clubs, can also be run using the same principle.

Some churches will feel that, as a type of gambling, lotteries (including 100 clubs) do not fit with their social mission. We make no judgment here on the suitability of running a lottery, we seek only to provide the basic legal framework. The below is provided as a general guide; you should always undertake your own research and confirm the legal status of your lottery.

The Rules

There is a danger in assuming that running a lottery does not require legal oversight. This is especially true of 100 clubs where churches have presumed them to be Private Society Lotteries. To qualify as a private society lottery you must:

  • Only sell tickets to people on the electoral roll (worshippers not on the electoral roll are not eligible)
  • Only sell tickets on church premises (in the street or at people’s homes is not allowed)

As most churches will need the freedom to sell tickets to people not on the electoral roll and to sell to members off the church premises then their lottery will not qualify as a Private Society Lottery.

Instead, most churches are more likely to qualify for Small Society Lottery status, as long as proceeds do not exceed £20k per draw and overall proceeds do not exceed £250k per year. As a Small Society Lottery you do not need to register with the Gambling Commission but you do need to register with your local district council which usually costs £40 with a £20 annual renewal fee. For example, take a look at the registration pages for Cherwell District Council, Reading Council and Milton Keynes Council.


When we say raffle we usually mean a type of lottery held at events, typically at summer fêtes, which are legally know as Incidental Lotteries. They do not require registration with the Gambling Commission/District Council as long as certain requirements are met. For the full list of rules see section 4 of the Gambling Commissions rules on small lotteries but, in particular:

  • Tickets must be sold during the event and on the premises (they must not be sold in advance of the event)
  • The sum total of prizes taken from ticket sale revenue must not be more than £500 (donated prizes do not count towards this total)

If your raffle does not meet these criteria then it is probably a Small Society Lottery (see above).