At the end of the project an evaluation report was produced to list down lessons learned and insights from the works undertaken. This is available from Create Space. Key lessons learned – which we hope will help others – are discussed below.
Evesham Abbey Bell Tower is a remarkable and rather beautiful late-medieval building which stands as the iconic landmark of the ancient market town of Evesham, Worcestershire. In July 2012, during stormy weather, some large pieces of stone fell off the Bell Tower. Urgent inspection and interim maintenance was undertaken, which identified the need for significant restoration and conservation work. A professional report identifying the scope of required work, plus costs, was produced in March 2013.
Limited fund-raising was carried out in the summer of 2013 – with an official launch on 6th June 2013 – but much of this year was dedicated to detailed planning for a major fund-raising effort in 2014. The appeal ran alongside the Development phase.
The Development phase, which ran from October 2013 to September 2014, completed successfully with a detailed and fully costed specification of the work required. As sufficient funding had been secured, the Delivery phase started in April 2015. This phase ran until February 2016; the scaffolding was removed in the following four months. Fund-raising continued during the early stages of this work, with the Evesham Journal announcing the end of the appeal on 16th July 2015.
The project recorded the Bell Tower’s condition, identified appropriate repairs, and then undertook those repairs. The project also provided the Evesham community, and the public in general, with information about the Bell Tower’s heritage and conservation. The research and analysis will inform better future conservation and management of the building. Alongside these important fabric repairs, the fund-raising appeal brought the town together with a series of social and other events which were great fun, much appreciated, and helped fund the restoration of Evesham’s iconic landmark.
Bell Tower Appeal – What worked well and why?
The fund-raising appeal worked incredibly well securing funds from grant-making bodies, private donations and via fund-raising events. Key tasks included managing grant applications, fundraising, working with volunteers, communication, publicity, PR, project management and committee work. The appeal worked well because of the following factors:
- A dedicated, professional and highly-organised fund-raising team with relevant skills and experience. The average size of the committee was six members (with an average of four attendees). Although the final success of the appeal proves this was sufficient, there was significant effort required of the chair Sue Ablett and the treasurer Stan Brotherton who, although volunteers, each worked virtually full time for a year on the appeal.
- A well-planned and full programme of events.
- Significant local support.
- Strong ongoing presence in the local media. We were very lucky in having the support of the Evesham Journal, who ran a series of stories on the Appeal throughout its duration, including a number of front page headline articles.
The work of the committee was enabled by:
- Well-defined and agreed objectives.
- Regular, frequent and focussed committee meetings with well-defined agendas, promptly produced minutes, and actions clearly identified.
- Regular communication outside of meetings by post, email and in person.
- Office space and facilities in Church House (photocopier, postal address, etc.).
- Regular updates and review of progress, finances and future events.
- Focus on areas which would potentially provide maximum benefit (for example, some offers of fund-raising events were not pursued).
- Detailed review of completed events to see what went well and what could have been done better (for example, if possible, always have a raffle at a concert).
- Early definition and routine review of risks.
What didn’t work well and why?
The initial failure to appoint a chair with the relevant experience and skills to oversee a project of this size meant that critical time and goodwill was lost in the early months of the appeal. These difficulties led to a re‑launch of the appeal in early 2014 after significant re‑focussing and re‑planning in late 2013.
The appeal was potentially vulnerable as so much was done by two key individuals; namely Sue Ablett and Stan Brotherton. There was a clear risk to the appeal if either one or both of them had fallen ill or withdrawn their support:
- Stan Brotherton undertook a wide range of roles including project manager of the Development phase, managing appeal finances, managing the website and social media, helping organise events, and managing grant applications.
- Sue Ablett undertook the role of appeal chair, actively promoted the appeal, organised a large number and wide range of events, managed publicity and looked after volunteers.
Sharing the workload amongst more people would have reduced the risk of failure.
Difference that would have happened anyway (deadweight)?
Without the significant effort of the committee chair and the treasurer the appeal would not have been so successful within such a short period of time. Alternatively, without this dedicated support, the appeal would have taken longer to raise the public target.