Dear UUSF Community Members and Committed Friends,
The month of March has traditionally been “canvass month,” when members and friends decide how much financial support they will pledge to provide in the next fiscal year for the day-to-day operations of our Society. Once pledges are totalled, the Board will develop a budget based on the amount of funds that have been promised, which will then be presented to the congregation for approval in June. You have been generous before. We ask you to think generously again, as we kick-off an ambitious and optimistic Annual Operating Fund (AOF) canvass for the July 2019-June 2020 fiscal year.
How are we doing?
Our Society’s sense of shared mission and open hearts feels palpable these days. We have amazing, dynamic leadership from the pulpit and the office whom we want and need to support and encourage. The content of worship, music, religious education for youth and adults, community care, and social activism grows better and better. We are gaining momentum. As we cultivate gratefulness, our connections to one another and the larger community are blooming. In this spirit, we ask for your pledge of support for the funding of UUSF operations.
What does the AOF pledge seek to accomplish?
As in past years we have two goals for the AOF canvass. First, we seek 100% participation from every member and friend of the Society. We are all in this together, and we need everyone with us. Second, we seek to raise a total goal of $625,000. Here’s why we need to.
The operating cost of the Society totals over $1.6 million per year. Doing the math, that’s approximately $4,900 per member, $9,800 per couple or family. Two-thirds of these costs are for employees, in an expensive city where we honor our values by paying staff a living wage. Additional fixed costs come with hosting a physical plant that welcomes 3,000 people every week to functions like 12-step programs, the winter homeless shelter, the Tenderloin Women’s Writing Group, and the Gray Panthers, to name just a few. Luckily, almost a million dollars annually is covered by our rental revenues, gifts from those who came before us, and grants we raise for certain programs. But that leaves $600,000+ in annual operating costs to be funded by roughly 250 “pledging units.” That’s an average need in excess of $2,400 per pledging unit. Some members lack the resources to make substantial pledges; but we honor and welcome all in our community, supported by the generosity of those with resources to help cover others.
How much is your “fair share” of the annual fund?
We’re looking to grow the total community of pledges by about 15%. But for some who may not have recognized their share of the actual operating costs, we ask that you reconsider your starting point. In particular, for those members who have historically pledged less than $100 a month, we are asking that you carefully review your finances to assess whether you might be able to step up to at least that monthly amount, and hopefully closer to the actual $2,400 cost per pledging unit needed to fund operations.
Another way to begin thinking about your donation is to reflect on what your membership means to you. How important is UUSF in your life? Your family’s life? Your contribution to the social good? Or relative to other charities you might support? The “Fair Share” guide from our national UU Association suggests ways to calibrate your commitment and income to a reasonable gift. To those who already dig deep for their own circumstances, a special Thank You! Yet we still need to grow all contributions from everyone to have the resources we need.
What do we seek to accomplish with increased pledges?
Our goal is to strengthen what we have and to leverage a few key places for growth. So, aside from normal inflation increases, our growth includes: providing our staff a much needed cost-of-living increase that they forewent in the prior pledge year; making our 100% green electricity, funded last year through donations at the auction, a built-in part of our Society’s budget; reinstating the funding for Big Music Sunday; increasing our outreach to visitors and new folks; planning for an every-other-year ministerial internship; and setting aside “Strategic Initiatives” funds for the yet-to-be-revealed 2019-20 initiatives that will come out of this year’s mission, vision and strategic planning process.
What’s new in the pledge process this year?
Pledging this year formally takes off with a fabulous Launch Lunch on March 10, immediately after worship. Please mark your calendars. You won’t want to miss the feast prepared by Stacy Scott Catering, a repeat winner of “Best Caterer in Marin” and longtime friend of our beloved Society for Community Work. We are shortening the canvass period this year to just three weeks, ending March 31, and omitting house parties, so we’ve designed the Launch Lunch as the signature event.
We are reaching out early to various committees and constituencies to jump start the canvass effort. To reward and encourage timely pledges, Marty Vanderlaan has again contributed a raffle prize of a three nights stay at his Lake Tahoe Cabin to all who pledge on or before March 31. New this year, anyone who pledges on or before the first day of the canvass, March 10, will also be entered in another raffle for a bay sailing cruise for four on board the Murray-Pulgrams’ sailboat “Rhapsody.” Just return your pledge form at the March 10 Launch event, at one of the committee meetings, or mail or drop it at the office or in the offertory basket before that date.
Finally, we’ll wrap up with a final reception in the courtyard on May 5. Therewe’ll join with RE participants to celebrate the end of their year and completion of the canvass. Your generosity permitting, we will bask in the shared glow of gratitude for what our best collective efforts are making possible for us to cultivate together.
Few people find that they later regret those moments when they are most generous to the causes and people they love. How about you? Thank you again for all your contributions to our Society.