Aid to the Church in Need supports in excess of 5,000 projects a year, in more than 140 countries around the world.
We focus on providing help for the spiritual and pastoral work of the poor and persecuted Church, and are able to consider supporting specific projects that will further the Church’s mission.
Aid to the Church in Need (United Kingdom) has offices in Scotland and the North West of England. However, all enquiries about project grants and scholarships should be directed to our UK National Office.
You can find more about who can apply for our grants, what sort of projects we are able to support – and whether you may be able to receive a scholarship for some or all of your postgraduate studies.
- Project Grants
- Mass stipends for priests
- Providing Bibles and catechisms
- FAQ about aid applications
Who can apply for aid?
As our charity is a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church, directly under the Holy See (i.e. the Pope in Rome), and since nearly all our funds are provided by Catholics (we receive no public funding), we have to concentrate our resources on Catholic causes, because we do not have enough funds even for these purposes. So regrettably we are generally unable to consider applications from other denominations, although we respect the sincerely-held beliefs of all Christians.
Who can apply for a project grant?
We will consider applications for project grants from anyone in a responsible position on behalf of the Church: bishops, priests, deacons, members of religious orders – superiors and provincials, Sisters and Brothers, and lay people.
If you are applying as a lay person on behalf of your parish, you should include with your application a letter of support from your parish priest. Although you are not required to submit written approval from your bishop or religious superior with your application, we will usually contact them during our decision-making process to confirm they support the project, so it is a good idea to make sure they are aware of your plans.
We can only consider direct applications from the person who will be responsible for the project. If you are applying to Aid to the Church in Need on behalf of a priest with whom you correspond, please show him this information and inform him that he must apply personally. We feel that it is a priest’s responsibility to apply directly to us; we do not approach him – it would be unfair to raise his hopes, since our funds are limited.
Our grants focus on providing help for the spiritual and pastoral work of the poor and persecuted Church. We will only consider specific projects that will further the Church’s mission. These include:
Building and repairing churches and chapels, seminaries and convents
Providing transport for priests and Sisters
Supporting catechetical programmes
Publishing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature
Broadcasting Christian TV and radio programmes
Providing Mass stipends to priests (only through bishops and provincial superiors)
How to apply for a project grant
Aid to the Church in Need is an international organisation, with national offices in countries such as the UK. Applications should be sent direct to our international head office in Königstein, Germany, where all funding decisions are taken.
If you wish to apply for help to purchase a vehicle, you should download this form:
For all other types of project, please use the Basic Form.
A summary of the plans and budget for the project will be required. Normally, this information can be provided on a few sheets of paper.
If the project involves building work, architects’ plans and costings will be needed. If the project is the purchase of a vehicle, a pro forma invoice from a local supplier will be required. Applications concerning building work or vehicles must always be accompanied by a letter of support from a bishop or provincial superior.
All project proposals and letters must include original signatures.
To apply, original paper documents (photocopies of plans, quotations, etc, are acceptable) should be sent directly by Air Mail or courier to:
ACN International gGmbH
Owing to the large number of applications received, the Project Department cannot acknowledge receipt of applications.
How we decide about project applications
Our Project Department constantly reviews our priorities, looking at what help is most urgently required and which areas of the world are most needy.
We receive no public funding and rely entirely on the generosity of our benefactors. Lack of funds means that we are not able to respond positively to all requests for aid but we try to make project grants according to the urgency of the need and its relevance to the charity’s objectives.
As we are a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church, we normally work in cooperation with the local Church hierarchy and it is usually necessary for applicants to demonstrate the support of their bishop or religious superior before any funding can be agreed. It is not essential to obtain the written support of the bishop or religious superior when applying, (except for buildings and vehicles) but Aid to the Church in Need reserves the right to consult him/her before agreeing any funding.
A reply informing applicants of the Project Department’s decision will be sent directly from the charity’s headquarters in Germany in due course. The minimum time taken for a decision is about 18 weeks, but this may be longer, for many reasons. It may be necessary to obtain further information from various sources, or to await receipt of new funds from our benefactors before a grant can be made.
Applicants are requested to be patient in waiting for a reply. If the Project Department has to spend time answering enquiries about the progress of applications, it prevents us dealing with the thousands of aid applications we receive each year.
A condition of our funding is that successful applicants report back on the progress of their projects. Members of our Projects Department visit many countries each year to monitor the completion of projects.
Projects outside the scope of our work
As our funding is limited, and each year we receive more applications for aid than we are able to fund, we are only able to consider projects that fall within the scope of the charity’s mission.
We are unable to help private individuals with schooling, medical or living expenses. We cannot help with paying off debts already incurred. We do not usually pay open-ended subsidies or general living expenses. We generally leave the funding of humanitarian and development projects to other charities; if your project is of that nature, please search the internet for charities which specialise in that equally important work.
Who can apply for a scholarship?
We normally only grant scholarships to ordained priests or professed religious Sisters who wish to carry out postgraduate studies in theology or philosophy. We can pay a proportion of the tuition fees of approved postgraduate courses.
Courses should be undertaken with the aim of preparing the applicant for a teaching assignment at a diocesan or religious major seminary or similar establishment, or a position of responsibility in their diocese or province.
Such priests and Sisters are sent to the UK by their bishop or religious superior and applications to Aid to the Church in Need are made through them.
Many students wish to take courses at universities, but if you do not fall into the categories outlined above, namely you are an ordained priest or professed Sister and wish to undertake postgraduate studies in theology or philosophy, we are unfortunately unable to support you, even if you wish to use your qualifications for the good of the Church. This is because of the limited budget available to us.
How to apply for a scholarship
Applicants should complete an Application for a scholarship, following our Scholarship Application Guidelines.
You will need to have the application form countersigned by your bishop or religious superior. It must then be sent by Air Mail or courier to:
ACN International gGmbH
Owing to the large number of applications received, our Scholarship Department is unable to acknowledge receipt of applications.
How we decide about scholarships
Our Scholarship Department will make a decision based on the needs of the local Church, as advised by the applicant’s bishop or religious superior.
The main criterion is that the student should undertake a course with a definite purpose in mind, as agreed in advance with his/her bishop or religious superior – for example, the applicant may be planning to teach at a local seminary, or to take up a position of responsibility within the diocese or province.
One of the key ways Aid to the Church in Need can help poor priests is by distributing Mass stipends to them.
Many of our benefactors like to offer a Mass through Aid to the Church in Need, enabling us to pass on their stipend to dioceses most in need.
Who can apply for Mass stipends for priests?
We only accept applications for Mass stipends from bishops or religious sisters, who will distribute them to priests in their dioceses or provinces as they see fit.
How to apply for Mass stipends
Applications must be made by a bishop or religious superior, by writing to our international headquarters in Germany:
Bibles and Catechisms
Aid to the Church in Need can supply free copies of two of our key publications – our Child’s Bible, God speaks to his children, and I believe – A Little Catholic Catechism.
Who can apply for these publications?
We will consider applications from anyone in a responsible position on behalf of the Church: bishops, priests, deacons, and members of religious orders – superiors and provincials, Sisters and Brothers. Please indicate the languages required.
Child’s Bible, God speaks to his children
One of our most successful projects ever, our Child’s Bible, God speaks to his children, has extracts from the Bible and colour illustrations. Although it is intended for children, it is also popular with adults with rudimentary reading skills. It is widely used for basic catechetical work.
We publish the book in more than 170 languages, and have distributed some 50 million-plus copies around the world since the project began in 1979.
I believe – A Little Catholic Catechism
This Vatican-approved catechism explains the central tenets of the Catholic faith, with extracts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is ideal for Confirmation groups.
It is available in a number of major languages, including English and French.
How to apply for Bibles and Catechisms
To apply for a free supply of our publications, please write to our international headquarters in Germany:
FAQs about aid applications
If you have questions about applying to Aid to the Church in Need for a grant or scholarship, you may be able to find the answers – or please contact us.
Do I need to complete an application form for a project grant?
You may need to complete a simple application form as explained above.
Can I discuss my application with someone at your UK office before I send it to your international headquarters in Germany?
Yes, you are welcome to discuss an application with us. Please contact us and ask to speak to someone about a project application.
Can I send my application to Aid to the Church in Need’s UK office in Sutton, Surrey, rather than to Germany?
Yes, if you find it more convenient to do so, you may send your application to our Sutton office. However, all funding decisions are made by our international headquarters in Germany, so your application will simply be forwarded there.
Can I send applications to both your UK office and your German headquarters?
No, please do not send duplicate applications. This will not improve your chances of success and may slow down the decision-making process.
I live outside the UK and need money to pay my children’s school fees. Can you help?
No. Aid to the Church in Need cannot help individuals with school fees. This is outside the scope of our work. Similarly, we cannot help with medical fees or general living expenses for individuals, because we must concentrate our limited resources on helping the Church to carry out its pastoral and evangelising mission.
A priest has written to me and asked me to contribute to repairing his church. I cannot afford to help him, but can you contact him?
No. We do not normally contact priests to invite them to apply for funding, because this might raise their hopes unfairly. Please inform the priest that he must contact us directly.
I sent an application to your international headquarters in Germany some weeks ago and I have heard nothing. Please can you find out what is happening?
Our international headquarters in Germany receives so many applications each year that it is not possible to acknowledge them. The decision-making process must allow time for a detailed consideration of every application. Further information may need to be sought, and we may have to await more funds before we can commit ourselves to a particular project. If staff at the UK office have to keep contacting their German colleagues about the progress of particular applications, this will slow down the whole process for all applicants, so we have to ask you to be patient. You will hear from our Project Department if your application for aid has been successful.
I am a priest and wish to apply for Mass stipends. Please can you advise me of the procedure for this?
We only allow bishops or provincial superiors to apply for Mass stipends, which they may then distribute to their priests as they see fit. So you should contact your bishop or provincial superior and ask him to consider applying to Aid to the Church in Need for Mass stipends.
I am a Christian coming to the UK to study for a degree, which I hope will benefit my country when I qualify and return. Please can you help me with the tuition fees?
No. Although we would like to help all Christians with their education, we simply do not have the funds to do this. We concentrate our limited scholarship budget on ordained priests and professed religious Sisters who wish to undertake postgraduate studies that will ultimately benefit the Church in their home countries.
I am a priest and wish to undertake postgraduate studies in the UK in order to assist my ministry. How do I apply for a scholarship?
The first step is to discuss your plans with your bishop or religious superior; he must make the application on your behalf. The applications forms can be found above in the scholarships section.
I am studying at a seminary in Africa and need help to buy my books and pay other expenses. Can you help me?
No. We do not assist individual seminarians. As we do not have sufficient funds to help all the seminarians who apply to us, it would be unfair for us to favour one seminarian rather than another. Besides, not all seminarians complete their studies to become priests and we cannot afford to waste our funds. Instead, we try to work through the rectors of seminaries for the good of all the seminarians. Your rector will know the best way to assist you in your needs.