Nearly £5 million of public funding has been earmarked for historic synagogues and Jewish cemeteries since 2004
The Grants for Places of Worship Scheme (England) was set up in 2004, under a slightly different name. Today, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)has sole responsibility for its budget that was set at £30 million in 2015-16. Historic buildings and sites may apply for funding under other appropriate HLF funding programmes besides GPOW that is primarily intended for urgent repairs usually at a high-level, to the roof, masonry, gutters or towers. However recent changes to the rules mean that improvements and additions to a building to make it more 'user-friendly', for example, kitchens and toilets, may now be included in a bid. To be successful bids should demonstrate some benefits to the wider public after repairs have been completed. These do not have to be complicated or costly, just well thought-out, for example regular participation in Heritage Open Days, hosting schools, civic groups and tourists, developing an educational programme, display, guidebook, website or just
providing signage and interpretation for visitors are all regarded as enhancing public access. Don't forget small and elderly congregations who do not have the manpower or volunteers to undertake such projects can include staff costs under many HLF grant schemes.
In addition, a one-off Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund (RRF) was established in autumn 2014 under the auspices of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the sister of HLF. Its total budget for 2015-16 was £55 million.
Annual Deadlines: There are four application rounds for GPOW per annum with quarterly deadlines. For further information and application forms visit the dedicated pages on the Heritage Lottery Fund website. See also the Heritage Lottery Fund website for other HLF schemes for which historic synagogues and cemeteries may be eligible.
Check their website for deadlines for the Roof Repair Fund.
In all cases, public funding requires a measure of matched funding from other sources. This can be as much as 50% or as little as 10% depending on circumstances. Before making an application for public grant aid, trustees of historic synagogues are strongly urged to clearly separate their building fund from other vital expenditure such as burial funds for funeral costs and cemetery maintenance and the salaries of paid officials. These funds should be ring-fenced in the synagogue accounts so that they will not be taken into consideration by the HLF when assessing the level of financial need. Jewish Heritage will be happy to advise potential applicants on a case-by-case basis.
The match funding requirement should not deter potential applicants. Even in the present difficult financial climate, other funding bodies and private foundations may be surprisingly willing to help. And do not forget to ask your own members and families that had connections with your synagogue - or whose ancestors are buried in your cemetery - for support in fundraising efforts.
Major foundations that have aided historic synagogues and cemeteries include:
World Monuments Fund - Jewish Heritage Program
Annual bid round
Rothschild Foundation Europe - Jewish Heritage Programme
Two bid rounds annually: March and September. A two stage application process has now been instituted with deadlines for Stage I in February and August.
The Wolfson Foundation - Historic Buildings and Landscapes
Two-stage application process. Deadlines of 20th January and 20th July for Stage I applications
Please contact Jewish Heritage if you need further advice on fundraising.