Should we be more intentional about talking about the need for members and friends to contribute to the operating fund and capital pledge drives? Your lay leadership is wondering!
Unitarian Universalists have traditionally shied away from the emphasizing giving cash to our community.
First, we are sensitive that not all members and friends can give. Too many of us are struggling with our own personal expenses. After rent, food, and transportation, there is very little left to give so that Sunday services are conducted by talented ministers. Some of us are working at several low-paid gigs, and others of us are retired on limited income. Our community understands income inequality and does expect people with little money to choose to donate instead of having medicine.
Second, many UU’s want to do nothing that conservative religious organizations emphasize… like tithing. Whether it is actual 10% (tithe) or something more along the lines of what the UUA giving guidelines suggest (link to chart), many of us are terribly uncomfortable about suggesting that our friends make a financial commitment. Some are uneasy even acknowledging that money is important to a liberal religious organization. After all, money is something hide-bound conservatives, not open-minded liberals, focus on. Right?
And, we all are sensitive to the comment that the only time a member or friend is personally contacted is when they’re asked for money.
Unfortunately, for whatever combination of reasons, our 2017-18 operating pledge drive is seriously behind its income goals. So, maybe it’s time to overcome our traditional reluctance to talk about finances and have a calm, positive discussion about cash!
The fundraising last spring combined a capital campaign and the annual operating fund campaign. The capital campaign was a success, but the operating fund pledges seemed below expectations. For many months, glitches in the pledging systems and communications hampered our ability to know exactly what was pledged and what could be expected.
We now have projections for the full year of income and expense. The shortfall is significant and we need to talk about it.
Please read the reports from Treasurer Marc Theobald and Director of Finance and Administration Saira Malik are sharing. They are the numbers people with the latest information.
Here’s what I ask you to do:
- Come to the voting budget meeting May 13th after the service. This is where we will discuss the shortfall and what we can do about it.
- Give more to the 2017-18 operating budget. If you have had a good year financially, would you please consider helping out the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco? We really need it!
- Make a generous pledge to the current operating fund pledge drive. If you haven’t sent in your pledge before, please do it now so we can plan for the year that starts in July. If you have pledged, can you give more?
Overall, our Society is in reasonable financial shape. We have significant cash reserves and endowment funds.
But, we cannot keep spending money at the same rate on ministers, staff, music, security, maintenance, social justice… anything… unless our income increases.
As we look forward and consider the community’s vision, mission, and strategic needs we need a realistic understanding of how much money we can spend on our work. Please help with that work by coming May 13th and by being as generous as you can in your gifts.
I think this is a good time to get realistic about the community’s budget and our members’ ability to give financial support. Come and join me in my optimism.