Rumor has it that all we talk about in this congregation is money. As the staff person who works with fundraising around here, I find that complaint both frustrating and fascinating. Perhaps a few facts will help. (Not that facts are fashionable these days, but I can’t stop believing they should work to persuade people.)
Let’s start with the assumption that folks are pretty satisfied with our three buildings, our wifi services, our décor and furnishings (well, they could be better, but…), our staffing decisions, our 2 acres and that the staff has reasonably decent office equipment, electronic equipment, and software to do their jobs. It follows then that money is needed to pay for these things. We use our annual budget drive to cover as many of our costs as we can possibly raise. This past year that covered about 79% of our budgeted expenses. (We ask how much you will give in February—your commitment—so we can create a balanced budget to vote on in June. You would be disappointed to learn how hard it is to get everyone to make a commitment in a timely fashion.)
We get some interest income and a draw from our reserve funds (2%), some “unexpected” (but not unbudgeted) donations from visitors and people who feel they can give more to us than they originally committed (9.5%), some income from new members as they join the church each year (1%) and rental income (2.5%). That adds up to 94%. Hence, more fundraising is needed.
Enter our 2 largest fundraisers, the used book sale, and the auction. We just ended up with more books than we can read again (well, I did anyway) and we benefited from yeoman’s work from a small cadre of volunteers throughout the year to gather, sort, and price books. After 2-1/2 days of sales, we add another 0.5% of income to our bottom line. (We also sell only about half the books that are received throughout the year. The rest are donated to Habitat for Humanity.)
Next Saturday night, November 11, we will have a blast at our auction—hope you have your tickets! This is a giant party, an opportunity to fill out your social calendar, learn stuff, and play throughout the year and, of course, support the congregation. When it is all said and done, the auction will have contributed another 3% of income. And other, lesser income sources (e.g., the holiday craft fair and coffee sales) bring in another 2.5%.
That pretty much covers the operating expenses that we include in our annual budget, but we actually have several other funds that we use to help our own members that are not included in the operating budget (because we don’t raise enough from other sources to cover them). That’s why you will be asked at various times of year to give money to the Ministers’ Discretionary Fund, the Scholarship Fund, and of course the Coming of Age program.
By the way, the Scholarship Fund was just used to help 11 families or individuals attend UUCA’s Gathering at The Mountain as well as 7 youth (so far) to attend youth conferences at The Mountain. I know these are greatly appreciated by the recipients.
So, I guess we do ask for money a lot. My only problem with the whole set-up is that it is the golden rule of fundraising that you will not get it if you don’t ask. But when we ask, we get pushback from some members. Some people have even dropped their membership and left the church because of this. It is a frustrating part of my job. So, here’s my fondest desire. If I had a UUCA financial magic lantern, I would wish for a congregation full of people in the full range of socioeconomic statuses (we are actually missing the highest end). Then I would wish that each and every person would believe in the way this place changes their lives. And finally, I would wish that their belief would compel them to give 3-10 percent of their adjusted income to UUCA.
Linda Topp, PhD., CCA
Director of Administration
I wish we’d talk more about money and the commitment it takes to keep this place running so we can do the work our faith demands of us.
Linda – Thanks for speaking up and out! Please continue.
Thanks Linda. I’d say damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but UUs don’t believe in damnation… 😉
And keep up the damn fine work!
First rate recap of the importance of stewardship in our life as a community. Financial resources are the blood that activates the body of the congregation – empowers the work, makes us good employers, puts our money where our mouth is as a community. Every dime is an investment, not a bill payment.