stonesoupDownload these FAQs as a PDF file

Frequently Asked Questions about the Stone Soup Stewardship Campaign

 

1.   Why are we having a second financial ask? What’s the problem?

We are below our fundraising targets for 2020. There are many intersecting reasons for this. We have slightly fewer pledging units than last year, but the driving factor is increasing health care costs for employees for both 2019 and 2020, along with other general cost increases. The combination of these factors means that we currently do not have sufficient funds.

2.   How much are these health costs?

Our budget for 2020 includes $112,400 for employee healthcare insurance, and this is after employees pay 20% of the premiums. This is almost double the level of $58,400 we incurred just 2 years ago, in 2018, and is now about equal to our annual mortgage expense of $112,800.

3. What are our options with a deficit in fundraising? Is letting staff go our only option?

With an operating budget in excess of approximately $1 million, program funding accounts for about $60,000 total (all of it). It is normal/typical in congregations that the vast majority of expenses are related to staffing; ministry is a people intensive endeavor. We cannot zero out our program funding – all of SGD and our music programs, for example are funded out of these program funds. These are mission critical programs. Therefore in scenarios where costs must be significantly reduced, reducing staffing costs is our primary option.

4.   Are we staff heavy? Are we over staffed? Is this what is taxing our budget?

No. We have done a comparative analysis of other large UU congregation staffing and found that our Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) are on the lower end for a large UU community. Budget driven reductions in our FTEs would place us below what is a normal/typical staff size for a larger UU congregation.

5.   Are our staff extravagantly paid? Is this the problem?

No. For approximately a decade, since the financial troubles of 2008-2009, we have been compensating and benefitting different members of our staff team in ways that do not reflect the UUA’s (our denomination’s) minimum compensation and benefit expectations. In addition, UUAA has not routinely provided cost of living adjustments to staff which, over time, means that our employees may be earning less in real dollars.

6.   Are congregants leaving UUAA in droves, or reducing/withdrawing their pledges in droves? Is this the problem?

No. Pledge units are about the same as last year (381 in 2019 compared with 370 so far in 2020). About 30% of the pledges to date are increased pledges, and 18% are decreases, which is in the normal range we experience. And the causes of these fluctuations are so varied it is difficult to ascribe the changes to any factor(s). This happens every year.

7.   How can I help?

Please review your current pledge and consider what (if any) additional amount you may be able to pledge.  To increase your gift, you can:

  • Make a one-time contribution (write "Stone Soup" in the check memo line)
  • Revise your pledge online
  • Fill out a new pledge form in the office
  • Make a credit card or ACH payment online

8.   Does the resignation of Rev. Lindasusan Ulrich mean that we no longer have a budget shortfall?

No. The shortfall amount of $110,000 was calculated taking into account that Rev. Lindasusan’s salary only goes through June 2020.

9.   Did Rev. Lindasusan resign (or was she encouraged to resign) due to budget issues?

No. Rev. Lindasusan made the decision to resign months ago because of a mismatch between her skills and interests and the needs of her position as Assistant Minister of Operations. This was long before our annual budget campaign and completely unrelated to the congregation’s finances.

 

You are also warmly invited to join your fellow UUAA friends and family in a "Stone Soup" luncheon on Sunday, January 19, at 1pm.

 

Your passion and enthusiasm for ensuring that UUAA has a strong financial future is welcome and appreciated. Please consider volunteering on any one of a number of volunteer led committees supporting fundraising, investment, and our finances. Interim Administrator Ed Lynn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) can talk to you further about this. We need every talented person who is interested in supporting our beloved community in this way!

Any inquiries, questions, or comments to or for our community’s leadership will, of course, be answered as volunteers and/or staff are able.