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Friends' schemes are usually a way of raising funds from people who used to belong to you church who have moved away, or from people who would just like to support your church. Sometimes the term is used simply to describe people who wish to be kept up to date with the church's activities.
It can give you a database of potential donors if you are planning a special appeal for example.
There is a very useful booklet produced by Canterbury Diocese entitled A Friends' Scheme for a Parish Church.
Please contact your Area Finance Adviser for more information.