Thursday, October 23, 2008

UUA Finances in Difficult Times

Second in a series of posts on the October UUA Board Meeting

The day I flew to Boston the market dropped nearly 800 points, right after a 936 point rally the day before. Though I would occasionally check the market on The Magic Box (my iPhone), I was glad I had something more important to do.

The short version of how this impacts UUA finances is that it has a major and immediate hit on the balance sheet (because of the drop in the value of the UU Common Endowment Fund), but so far income reduction on the operating statement is offset by reduction in spending. This is because most of the income reduction is in special donations for specific projects which are not implemented without those funds. These donors do not want to liquidate funds (sell) in this market.

The longer term impact is yet to be seen, but will likely include the annual transfer of funds from the endowment to the operating budget (about $2.2 M, but less as the market value drops), and the impact on the annual program fund (the annual support from congregations, just over $7 M), and Association Sunday (currently projected at $350,000). The estimates for essentially all income sources have been decreased by the UUA staff, with corresponding decreases in expected expenditures. These are not easy times, but we are blessed with timely and accurate information we can trust, and an executive team that takes fiscal responsibility to heart.

According to President Bill Sinkford, our non-profit partners have seen a major drop off of income. What does one do in these kinds of times?

Though it is tempting to “hunker down” to protect what we have, I believe generosity is even more important now. In his book Who Really Cares, Arthur Brooks provided study after study that shows that people who give to others, regardless of income level, are healthiest and happiest. Though it may be counterintuitive, I believe the best way to make it through these times and remain whole in spirit is to share what we have been given.

Next post: Congregation-Based Community Organizing


Bill Baar said...

I know when the appeal comes at my Church to kick in a few extra bucks we'll hold back after Sinkford's shameful exchange with Ahmadinjad and Sinkford's failure to use that opportunity to express any solidarity with fellow religous in Iran.

Men's Groups - Care, Feeding (and starting) said...

Punish the entire UUA because you have an issue with one exchange Bill Sinkford had? This kind of support is exactly what the organization doesn't need at this critical time. I'll fill in for you this time, but hope that you'll look with more generosity in the future towards the whole organization and take your issues up directly with Sinkford.

Anonymous said...

I hope the UUA leadership will take a good look at its programs and evaluate each to see where the largest impact on the member congregations can be made. Programs that are not getting the most return for the money should be suspended or cut till funding can be acquired.

There is a over a year left before the elections. I hope the UUA leadership does not coast through the remaining time without any real examination of the cost and effectiveness of their programs.

Lets make the money count.

Bill Baar said...

Punish the entire UUA because you have an issue with one exchange Bill Sinkford had?

Yep, I'm convinced money is the only thing they listen too. I haven't heard a peep about Rev S. over this. Just the spin on his Africa trip.