Friday, June 28, 2013

Why are We Broke?

UU's are broke, institutionally.  Not really broke, but Downton Abbey broke.  There's an endowment, and some nice real estate, but not much cash on hand at any one time.  Not enough for innovation, or new church plants, or funding new ministries.

The situation is often noted.  The problem is posed and the solution seems, always, to be so obvious.  We should all be more generous.

We are good Calvinists in all things.  Why are there difficulties in the world?  Because we are not as good as we should be !!

The flip side of generosity is sustainability.  If we cannot match our ability to raise money with our expenses, we are always going to feel too broke for any new expenditure.

Maybe we are over invested in our buildings?    Maybe our staffs are too big, in the local congregation?  Maybe we duplicate staff across individual churches? Maybe our budgeting and fundraising is out of whack, so that increased giving goes to expenses invisible to the donors.  For example, the church that calls for a radical increase in pledging, at the same time that they are fattening the building maintenance reserve fund.

It's our Calvinism, and self-doubt, that just makes us look at our financial problems as being a lack of generosity.  Maybe we should be looking at our whole financial structure, what we spend, and where, and how we ask, and reform what we are doing.  I am convinced that we can unleash incredible generosity if we can show giving creates results -- exciting ministries, successful programs, real changes in our communities and in the lives of the people we work with.

2 comments:

Clyde Grubbs said...

Scarcity is part of the dominant world view. Not only the UUA but the USA. We don't have enough, we can't do it because of lack of resources. Resources may be people, money, or internet savy.

Actually we have abundant resources. For Unitarian Universalism we have enthusiastic and devoted people and articulate visionaries than warm the hearts of people who know how to work.

But we sit on our abundance, and control it though the scarcity filter. (Not just UUs, all dominant culture instututions and their bureaucratic leaderships.

Anonymous said...

I believe that we are fundamentally mistaken about generosity. It's not that we need to increase generosity, but that we need to develop faith. I see this in my congregation - those with deep identities and faith as UUs give and keep giving.

We have many, many members who do not deeply or primarily identify as UU, and they don't give as much - no surprise. We have people drifting in and drifting out, with many people in a "pre-UU" identity stage, and then we simply lose many others.

Let's focus on developing faith, then talk about generosity. If we had an association of 160,000 members with deep identities as UUs who gave as we give, then let's wring our hands about generosity.

Instead, right now, we need to talk about how to develop the faith and identities of more UUs.