Parish Giving Scheme expands throughout the Church of England
From 1 January 2024, the Church of England is making the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS), one of the most resilient mechanisms for growing regular giving, freely available to all dioceses and parishes, with no cost for givers.
This represents a potential expansion of the service by more than double, from the 5,000+ parishes, churches and cathedrals who use PGS currently, to making it available to all 12,000+ parishes, across all dioceses. This expansion is made possible through a change in ownership of the PGS charity that runs the scheme, bringing it into the National Church, with central funding from the Archbishops’ Council via a Church Commissioners grant.
The core service provided by PGS is a Direct Debit regular giving platform processing financial gifts and associated Gift Aid claims on behalf of parishes who choose to use the service. Gifts to a specific member parish can be set up and self-managed online by givers, or through a telephone service staffed by PGS. Two of the scheme’s most distinctive features are that it is free at the point of use, and givers are invited to opt-in to increase the value of their gift in line with inflation each year.
PGS currently processes more than £78m in giving annually. As of December 2023, almost half of the 80,000 regular givers currently using PGS have opted into the inflationary increase scheme. More than 90% of these opted-in givers increase annually when invited to do so; approximately 3% go even further and super-inflate. Retention of regular givers remains strong despite the cost-of-living crisis, which is providing stability to the 5,000+ churches across 35 member dioceses, who already use the scheme.
Under the change of ownership, PGS will continue to operate as a charity, but it will have one single member, Church of England Central Services (ChECS), one of the National Church Institutions (NCIs), instead of being owned and funded by multiple member dioceses. The change of ownership will take effect from 1 January 2024.
“As a charity currently serving many thousands of parishes, this transition into a deeper and closer relationship with the Church of England is fully aligned with our vision to advance regular giving in every church,” said Grant Forrest, Chief Executive, Parish Giving Scheme. “At a time when many churches are facing the challenges of high inflation and cost-of-living pressures for givers, we are encouraged by the retention and growth in regular giving experienced by our parishes who use the Parish Giving Scheme.
“Regular giving through PGS has continued to grow through even the most difficult of circumstances for givers, first Covid and then high inflation. In the last two years, the overall growth of the scheme has seen the value of gifts processed by PGS rise from £55m a year to £78m a year. We believe this is testament to the deeply committed relationship between givers and their parish on whose behalf we process the gifts, supported by our team who provide an excellent service with empathy and professionalism.”
All of the current PGS team, including its Chief Executive, remain in post, becoming part of the Giving Directorate of the Church of England.
Givers who would like to know a little more about the change in ownership taking place from January 2024, may find the FAQs on our website helpful. Click here.
Sammi Tooze becomes a Trustee
We are delighted to announce that Sammi Tooze joined the Board of PGS as a Trustee in June.
Sammi co-ordinates the work of the Generous Giving team in the Diocese of York, working across 579 churches to grow a culture of generosity and embed accessible forms of giving.
Sammi’s varied role includes creating new resources to encourage generosity, delivering training and retreats, facilitating processes of churches’ vision exploration and communication, as well as strategic oversight of the team’s work and ministry.
Beyond the Diocese of York, Sammi has spoken about generosity in various forums including at National Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers conferences and on BBC radio. She has also produced resources for worship and discipleship for the National Church of England Giving Team, as well as training materials for theology, mission and communicating about giving for the National Generosity Learning Hub. Sammi is also an elected member to General Synod, and an appointed member of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission.
Sammi comments, “It is a real privilege to be invited onto the Board of Trustees of the Parish Giving Scheme. As a Generous Giving Adviser in the Diocese of York, it’s been a joy watching PGS grow in recent years and make a big difference to the lives of our churches, making giving easy and inspiring greater generosity. I’m really looking forward to working with the rest of the Board particularly as the new Vision and Values take shape, embedding it in all that PGS is and does, and enabling us all to be the generous churches God calls us to be.”
With such a broad range of skills and experience, Sammi brings invaluable insight, and we welcome her contribution to the support, governance and development of PGS.
Experiencing generosity in our community
Recently, the PGS team spent a day living out one of our values, generosity, volunteering for an inspiring project called The Long Table, in Stroud, Gloucestershire. As the PGS team gave time and energy generously, the generosity was multiplied through the response of the Long Table team. Here, Carol Townsend, Project Manager, tells us about the powerfully positive experience they shared.
The Long Table is part of The Grace Network . It’s a community interest group that works towards food equality by preparing meals with ingredients sourced locally and are available to anyone regardless of social or financial background. So, for example, the organisation recognises that mealtimes can be extremely lonely for some people and the idea of the ‘long table’ is really for people to, quite literally, sit at a long table and have the opportunity to share a meal and conversation.
Alongside this they have created a space where people can learn invaluable skills such as cooking and growing food – helping those with barriers to employment to gain meaningful work; they offer apprenticeships and the teenage kitchen to provide these opportunities.
They also have a wonderful addition to their project through the ‘freezers of love’. This helps them reach out further than their base in Stroud in order to combat food poverty in the wider community. The freezers are full of freshly prepared, frozen meals that people can access if they run low on food.
There is much more to this organisation – they have a lovely coffee bar, a recycled furniture project, a shop which supplies second hand kids’ clothing and toys. Whilst we were there, they were in the process of developing a bicycle repair shop – providing more opportunity for apprenticeship learning.
Our focus for the day was to clear a large section of a very overgrown area of greenery which sits between the entrance gate and a quaint meandering stream. This took the whole morning, but it was really lovely to share this experience as a team having a laugh or two along the way; especially when the resident rat that lives in the undergrowth came to join in! The morning was extremely wet, but the team embraced it and got stuck in. After a while we didn’t seem to notice the rain.
We stopped for lunch and Ed and Emma, who were very ably looking after us, kindly invited us all to sit at the long table and share a meal together along with the local community visitors. The dish of the day was a tomato and pepper pasta and the PGS team gave it a five-star review – it really was lovely to sit and enjoy a meal listening to and joining in with the buzz of conversation going up and down the very full long table. It really gave us a sense of what it’s about and the impact the organisation has on the local community.
The afternoon brought a little sunshine, and we turned our attention to two very large bags of compost that had arrived especially for us! Our PGS efficiency kicked in and we split into two working parties to transfer many, many buckets of growing soil from the huge bags to large troughs ready for planting with vegetables.
We finished off with a nice piece of cake before our journey back to the office.
At last, our work was done, and although feeling tired and with aching backs, we also had an overwhelming feeling of achievement, togetherness and were totally in awe of and inspired by the whole Long Table team, and all the other social enterprises at Brimscombe Mills.
But I think what struck us the most was the gratitude, generosity and appreciation that the organisation bestowed on us – we were thanked at every turn, and they could not have made us feel more welcome during our short but enjoyable day with them.
A Change of Chair
Following the completion of Victoria James’ term of office, the PGS Board of Trustees have elected a new Chair. During Victoria’s term we’ve seen significant growth with 1,547 new parishes and 24,885 new Direct Debit mandates created, processing a total of more than £139 million in giving and Gift Aid. Victoria has brought incredible leadership during a key phase of the life of PGS with the introduction of the digital platform, which continues to go from strength to strength. We’re extremely grateful for all that Victoria has brought to the team and wish her well as her time with the Board comes to a close.
The Board unanimously elected Theo Platt as the third PGS Chair. Theo is Head of Development & Communications at Gloucester Cathedral and brings a vast experience of project development, fundraising and audience-led communications within the heritage sector, having led a multi-disciplinary team at Gloucester Cathedral for the past seven years.
Speaking about his appointment, Theo says: “The Parish Giving Scheme's role as a catalyst for generosity has never felt so important. Over the last few years, we have seen first-hand how regular giving can bring certainty and hope in a period of great change.
“I'm honoured to have been elected Chair of PGS and look forward to supporting our talented team, board and partners in our mission to grow God's Kingdom by enabling committed regular giving which transforms the life and ministry of the Church.”
Encouraging generosity at CRE
In early October, PGS exhibited at the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) for the first time, sharing our thoughts on encouraging generosity and showing how we support churches as a mechanism for regular giving.
More than 2,000 visitors attended the event at Sandown Park, Surrey, over three days. Much discussion at the show was prompted by our stand theme of Generation G and the idea that we are in an era of generosity. This is because at PGS we see, every day, just how generous people are when it comes to giving to their church and supporting its local ministry.
More than 60,000 people give regularly to their church through PGS and many of them choose to increase their gift every year. Even during Covid, giving continued and it seems to us that – despite all of life’s challenges – we are experiencing an era of generosity, which is something to be welcomed and nurtured. We call this Generation G – because we think there’s a new generation that’s not defined by age, but by living life generously.
PGS helps Generation G to flourish in worshipping communities, through regular generous giving. We carried this theme through the discussions we had with givers on the stand, many of whom stopped by to share comments and appreciation of the scheme. It also served to start conversation at our invite-only reception which included an informal workshop with a small group discussing what generosity means in their churches.
Our two public seminars showed Generation G in action as we were joined by the vicar and treasurer from St Andrew’s in Hove, and the treasurer from St John’s in Egham, who all shared stories about the transformative role of regular giving in their churches and the positive impacts it’s having on their ministry and their communities. We were thankful to share this experience in partnership with the National Giving Team and grateful to Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood and Helen Simpkiss for their additional insight.
Thank you to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts and experiences with us, we hope CRE provided everyone as much food for thought as it did for us.
Welcoming a new Era of Generosity
The PGS team is enthusiastically gearing up for three days of conversations with our church communities during the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE), 12-14 October, Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey.
Given the importance of generosity in living out our faith, how, then, can we nurture a new era of generosity? One that embraces everyone within our church communities, united by our faith in Christ, living life generously. Come and see us on stand B1 and talk to us about what’s happening in your church and how we can help to encourage regular generous giving – we’d love to meet you!
If you are visiting the show on Wednesday 13 or Thursday 14 October, then why not join us for a lunchtime seminar (1pm), when we’ll be sharing practical takeouts exploring how we can encourage generosity as acts of personal discipleship in today’s changing world.
During this informal and energising Q&A session:
- Hear experiences from church communities successfully moving towards a generous culture and finding financial resilience as a consequence
- The Church of England’s National Giving Team will share resources available to support a culture of generosity
- Take away ideas and inspiration to help your church feel – and become – more generous
For free tickets for any day of the show, click here
Join us at the Christian Resources Exhibition
12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey
For the first time, the Parish Giving Scheme is exhibiting at the Christian Resources Exhibition this Autumn and we’re delighted to be able to offer free tickets to our community by using the link below.
Regular giving now fully online
The roll-out of our PGS digital services means that new and existing givers can now choose to set up and manage their regular giving entirely online, here on this website.
Following the success of the pilot with five member dioceses earlier this year, the service has been expanded to include all 3812 parishes registered with PGS, from our 30 member dioceses.
Between the start of the pilot last December and the end of May, 2,411 new gifts have already been set up online, with a combined first gift value in excess of £200,000.
More than 3,250 new and existing givers have created their personal online account with us, to manage their regular giving safely and easily, in just a few clicks.
The digital services are not just providing benefits for givers. A growing number of church staff and treasurers who are authorised to view the giving statements for their parish, are also making use of the online services. They can log-in securely at any time, to view their monthly statements, including the value of Gift Aid that PGS claims from HMRC on their behalf, to keep time-consuming admin and paperwork to a minimum.
If you’d like to know more about how to get started with managing your regular giving online, we’ll guide you through some simple steps here.
Don’t forget, it’s still possible to set up your regular giving by completing a gift form, or by phoning us, if you prefer. Simply call the team on 0333 002 1271, Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm.
PGS to co-host webinars with the National Giving Team
As a charity whose origins are within the Church, the Parish Giving Scheme is dedicated to serving givers and churches in a shared ministry of giving, by providing a simple and secure way for churches to receive regular gifts.
To help inform parishes and churches about the benefits of the PGS, we’ll be co-hosting a new webinar with the National Giving Team on Wednesday 28 April at 1-1.45pm. So if your church is considering joining the scheme or you want to find out more, book a place for ‘An introduction to PGS’ here.
For parishes who are already using the PGS, we’ll be teaming up with the National Giving Team again to guide you through our new online giving service and discuss how to make the most of it as part of a giving review. To hear more, join us for ‘The PGS Digital Service’ webinar on Wednesday 12 May at 2-2.45pm. Book your place here.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
New Chief Executive appointed
Grant Forrest has been appointed Chief Executive of the Parish Giving Scheme.
Grant will take up his new role with the PGS on 1 June, leading the charity in its mission to enhance the generosity that enriches the life of the church and its ministry in each community.
A Yorkshireman with a young family, Grant has spent the past couple of years in North Devon as Head of Business for Lee Abbey Devon. Working closely with the Warden, Trustees and senior leaders, Grant has demonstrated leadership, vision and pragmatism in steering this exceptional Christian retreat and conference centre through the challenges experienced by all within the hospitality sector over the past year.
Prior to this, Grant, with a First Class Honours degree in Computer Science and a broad experience in the Tech and IT industry, held positions with The Salvation Army, where he was instrumental in overseeing the successful implementation of its financial systems.
Victoria James, Chair of the PGS, says, “Throughout his career to date, Grant has devoted his technical abilities, aptitude for people management and his personal faith, to serve the mission we share as Christians. The Trustees are excited by the contribution he will bring to PGS, as we forge ahead in our partnerships with dioceses, parishes and colleagues in the national Church.”
Grant comments, “It’s an exciting time to be joining the PGS, with its clear vision and mission to serve the church. I am energised to see further growth both in the PGS but, most importantly, seeing fruitfulness in frontline ministry with the church communities benefiting from reduced administration.”
March 2021: Online giving is now live!
Following a successful four-month pilot, new givers can now set up regular giving online through PGS.
From December 2020 to March 2021, we worked closely with five dioceses – Hereford, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich – to introduce givers to the new online method of giving, before making it available to all 3,300 parishes across our 30 member dioceses.
Our new online service has already seen more than 1,200 register their online accounts and over 1000 people have set up a new regular gift online. Together, that’s almost £60,000 per month of giving online, supporting the ministry of local parishes.
We’re delighted to now roll out this new method of giving for all new givers. It’s really easy to do, right here on www.parishgiving.org.uk. Simply find your church and click on ‘Give Now’, register for an online account and set up your regular gift.
We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in helping and supporting the development of PGS digital services and look forward to updating you as we rollout more features over the coming months.
December 2020: Online giving pilot now live
This year, the PGS team has made exciting strides in developing our online giving service that will enable givers to set up regular giving via our website www.parishgiving.org.uk. On 4 December, we launched a pilot of the online service working closely with five dioceses; Hereford, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
Each piloting diocese has invited a number of their registered parishes to introduce givers to the new online method for regular giving. Running until March 2021, the purpose of the pilot is to manage the introduction of this new service in smaller numbers and learn from the experiences of those involved, so that the PGS can make any improvements and adjustments before actively communicating the availability of the online method to all 3,200 registered parishes, across all 30 member dioceses.
By February, we will be providing all our member dioceses with guidance and communication materials for their registered parishes, so that they can prepare to introduce the online services to all givers.
While the pilot is focused on the new functionality for givers using the website, there are also some enhanced services for parishes. All our PGS Statement Receivers - regardless of whether their parish is participating in the pilot - will already be experiencing these improvements. Every parish has its own ‘landing page’ and Statement Receivers will be able to add and update an introductory paragraph.
Although this is a very exciting development, we are asking that all dioceses and parishes not involved in the pilot, currently refrain from promoting the online service to new givers. This is just so that the PGS team can learn from the pilot and ensure a smooth roll out to everyone in the Spring.
The PGS experienced a significant level of growth over the summer, despite the enormous challenges under which parishes and Dioceses are currently operating.
In August, we reached a milestone of 3,000 churches/parishes actively receiving funds through PGS. In September, we processed just over 52,000 regular gifts, with a total value of £4,874m (including Gift Aid) remitted to parishes – an increase of 8% since March 2020.
The telephone giving service has also continued to prove immensely popular. Since its inception, we have processed over 2,300 regular gifts through the service – averaging +500 calls per month. In fact, 1 in every 2 regular gifts to parishes is now set up through this service.
The PGS office remains open for business and we are operating with a reduced staffing presence (based on a rota), in order to comply with government guidelines on social distancing. We are continuing to receive and process new paper gift forms and to handle administrative queries from givers and parishes in the usual way; however, there may be occasional delays in our response times, due to the revised working arrangements.
We do appreciate your patience and support at this time.
The PGS continues to grow across the Church of England, with 30 member dioceses now registered with the Scheme. We extend a warm welcome in particular to those parishes joining us from our newest member dioceses: Leeds, York and Southwark.
Sammi Tooze, Generous Giving Adviser for the Diocese of York, says:
“We are so pleased to be launching PGS in the Diocese of York – we are discovering new and creative ways of engaging with regular givers in our churches during the impacts of COVID-19, and are finding a really positive energy for utilising the benefits PGS brings. As a diocese very new to PGS, we are looking forward to joining in more fully with the PGS family, and to seeing the fruitful impacts across our churches.”
This month, we processed just over 49,000 regular gifts to parishes through the PGS, with c. 55% of givers opting to increase their giving annually in line with inflation. We forwarded over £3.8 million in gifts alone to 2,884 parishes, with an additional £900,000 in Gift Aid reclaimed from HMRC.
Update on the telephone giving service
In April, we were delighted to announce the launch of our new telephone service – designed to enable prospective givers to set up a regular Direct Debit gift to their parish over the phone.
The service has certainly proved popular – with over 700 givers signing up during the first month!
Praise for the new service:
“I found signing up for Parish Giving Scheme over the phone to be extremely easy and efficient. The call lasted ten minutes and the call handler was very polite. I would recommend this to anyone considering signing up to PGS.”
Annie Stanford, Treasurer, Holy Trinity Old Hill
“Signing up to the PGS by phone could not have been easier. It was quicker than filling out forms and, during the CoVid-19 lockdown, means my church still gets my regular gift.”
“I found the ease of using the new telephone service very satisfactory. The whole process was efficient and only took 15 minutes. The staff were very helpful and I would thoroughly recommend this service.”
Dr Simon Thorp, Eastbourne St Saviour