Skip to main content

Parish Giving Scheme

The Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) provides a simple and secure way for parishes in the Church of England to receive regular donations, supporting their ministry in local communities.

As a charity whose origins are within the Church, PGS is dedicated to empowering all generations to give with confidence and to feel valued, while easing the administrative burden for churches. In 2020, a major project to bring key services online for donors and church administrators, was the catalyst for a renewed focus on communications – and PGS selected Target to lead this work.

Target has brought its unique blend of communications counsel (working closely with the senior management team) and hands-on creative implementation (producing a ‘ready to use’ communications toolkit) to launch the new PGS Digital Services in the Spring of 2021.

Background

The Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) provides specialist services to the Church of England (CofE), offering secure and simple ways for people to give regularly to their chosen church.

For more than a decade, PGS operated as an independent charity owned by its members, the 35 Church of England dioceses who had chosen to use the Scheme. Each member diocese contributed annual fees, making the Scheme freely available for all their parishes to use, with no costs for the churches or givers. By the end of 2023, PGS was processing almost £80m annually, from 80,000 regular givers, to almost 5,000 parishes.

Giving through PGS has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms for growing regular giving, which is why the National Church and PGS carefully explored how to make its regular giving platform freely available to all churches in the Church of England.

In December 2023, PGS members voted to change the structure of the charity. From 1 January 2024 PGS became part of the CofE National Church Institute (NCI), funded centrally with additional investment to secure the long-term development of PGS services for givers and all churches.

When the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) exhibited at the Church Resources Exhibition (CRE) for the first time in October 2021, Target developed a theme for the event that would have impact and invite conversation with show visitors.

We created a new narrative to launch at the exhibition, introducing the concept of ‘Generation G’ as a means of expressing the culture of generosity. Originated by PGS, the term positions the organisation at the heart of a conversation that has resonance with the church community. Generation G is not defined by age, but by living life generously.

Graphic artist Sarah Scyner was commissioned to create bespoke artwork for the stand and embracing the spirit of generosity, she also designed a suite of wooden postcards that would be given away at the event alongside gift bags of Narcissus Cheerfulness bulbs and ‘Live life generously’ badges.

The theme was also used as a seminar topic, with PGS hosting two 45-minute discussions between representatives from the Church of England’s National Giving Team and PGS members from St Andrew’s Church in Hove, and St John’s Church in Egham.

Grant Forrest, CEO of PGS, says: “PGS greatly benefited from the creativity and event management provided by the Target team as we ventured to our first exhibition. The team delivered exceptional value, ensuring everything from the ideation phase through to event delivery went without a hitch. With confidence in the team given through regular meetings, I was able to focus on other areas of the business knowing that everything was being looked after. 

“Target also lined up meetings with key stakeholders resulting in positive media presence off the back of attending the exhibition. A pleasure to work with, they feel like they are part of our core team and demonstrate understanding of our context which makes them a first-class team to have working with us.” 

Encouraging generosity and living life generously are the cornerstones of PGS communications. As such, Advent brought the perfect time to share reflections of personal generosity and the generosity of God.

Working with PGS CEO, Grant Forrest, Target created ‘A Generous Advent with PGS’ – a series of 28 podcast episodes to be shared through Advent from 28 November to 24 December. The team scripted each episode that was then recorded by Grant and podcast producer, Serena Gay from Made4U Podcasts.  The series was supported with daily Instagram posts, a weekly LinkedIn post and bespoke email content sent to PGS members. The campaign culminated in a personal video message from Grant Forrest filmed at Gloucester Cathedral and shared on Christmas Day across social media and YouTube.

The PGS podcast was available on all major podcast directories and had 1000 downloads.

Grant Forrest, CEO of PGS, says: “Taking a small idea and cultivating into an internationally downloaded podcast in a matter of weeks just demonstrates the talents of everyone at Target.

“Producing the podcast enabled PGS to venture into a new media platform with confidence and leaning on the combined experience of the team, we were able to deliver exceptional opportunities to share the message of generosity, building engagement and awareness for our audience. A joy to work with, the Target team brought our content alive adding depth and texture. They pulled together experts to deliver the overall project looking after all the details which made a busy season run very smoothly.  We couldn’t have done it without them and their extensive skills, experience, and network.” 

Communications support

Unlike commercial mergers and acquisitions typically conducted in secrecy, this change of ownership required sensitive communications with multiple stakeholders throughout the process.

Target provided strategic communications counsel to PGS, alongside legal specialists in the advisory team, and worked in partnership with the NCI’s communications team, ensuring alignment of messaging.

We set out four communications principles:

  • To communicate internally with colleagues (PGS/NCI teams, PGS member dioceses and Giving Advisors) before we communicate externally with parishes, givers, the wider church community and the media.
  • Respect the process for voting, giving members the space to consider then discuss the proposed change of ownership within the privacy and governance of the Extraordinary Members Meeting (EMM).
  • Move swiftly to inform internally and externally, following the outcome of the vote and funding decision from Archbishops’ Council.
  • Provide open and ongoing support for answering questions, whether in a group setting online or in one-to-one meetings and correspondence. This process would continue for as long as it’s needed.
We set out four communications principles:
  • Key messaging development
  • Developing stakeholder communications strategy
  • Close liaison with NCI communications colleagues
  • Presentation of comms plans jointly to NCI Project Board
  • Carefully timetabled emails and letters tailored to stakeholder groups
  • Preparation of Q&As for internal use
  • Preparation of FAQs for external use
  • Personalised responses to the small number of concerns raised by individual parishes
Reactive media management

An anonymous ‘leak’ to the Church Times brought the proposed change of ownership to their attention, at a critical time while the members were registering their votes. Both comms teams and leaders for PGS and the National Church agreed an approach to provide clarity on the process that was taking place, while not pre-empting the outcome. Target prepared a written response, quote from the PGS CEO, and supplied a quality head shot. This swift and comprehensive response resulted in a positive and factually correct article, incorporating key messages.

The communications plan was quickly adapted and brought forward to ensure stakeholders were updated ahead of the article appearing in the press.

Positive outcomes
Effective communications were critical to a positive transition of ownership:

  • Exceeding the threshold of member votes required for change of ownership
  • Internal teams felt well informed and motivated
  • Positive feedback from multiple parishes and diocesan contacts
  • Minimal negative comments or queries from parishes
  • Minimal gift cancellations
  • Positive media coverage

Grant Forrest, CEO at PGS says: “With Target’s wisdom and expertise, we have communicated effectively through significant change and transformation. As CEO, I love working with Target as I can lean into their counsel and access the support I need to shape strategy, deliver change and hold to our values.

“What differentiates them as a key partner is their integration into our core team and ability to use our tone of voice. They deeply understand what we are trying to communicate and how we want to achieve our ambitious goals, which means they join us on the adventure, making our work life-giving and fun. I highly recommend them!”

Read all our client case studies