Stewardship at Westwood –”We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
As your treasurer, I get to discuss the financial side of life at Westwood.
First, though, I am in the fortunate position of congratulating and thanking Westwoodians for our successful fundraising effort a few months ago. The Board heard the desire of Westwoodians to improve its accessibility loud & clear, and were able to get an accessible washroom built in September, 2019 – but only because of the financial support of so many Westwood members and friends.
Where are our financial resources coming from in the 2019/2020 year?
Westwood receives funds from rentals, interest, and fundraising (this year, we volunteered at a Casino and are using up the remainder of the funds saved from the previous one) but, by far, the most important source of funding for Westwood is the contributions from its members and friends. Westwood aims to be, and is, a diverse community in many ways. You will often hear a service leader say something like: “We welcome all persons of goodwill whatever their culture, colour, class, religion, gender, wealth, or the direction of their affections.” We are not all the same and this is appropriately reflected in our giving. The graphic illustration shows the vital role that our contributions play in funding Westwood’s activities.
The following table has been created by analysing individual contributions this fiscal year; when a “pledge unit” consists of two or more active Westwoodians, their pledge has been divided among them; that gives a more transparent comparison for individual pledge units. The analysis below describes Westwoodians’ giving patterns by adding up predicted monthly pledged contributions in 2019/2020 and dividing the sum by four, or into quartiles.
This year, there are 7 individuals donating about 25% of our pledges (an average of $383 each per month). There are 10 individuals responsible for another quarter of our contributions, pledging an average of $252 each per month. The third quartile group (15 individuals) has pledged an average of $162 each per month. The largest quartile group is comprised of 37 individuals who have promised to make an average monthly donation of $55 each per month. The table also includes the range within each quartile group i.e. low and high amounts donated.
Please note the numbers below do not include numerous members and friends who do not pledge (make a promise in advance) but still donate although less predictably. Their donations are captured under supplementary contributions with $3000 being the projected total, assuming current trends continue. The budget also includes a likely $2500 from anonymous donations.
|Congregational Giving Patterns in 2019/2020 – Sharing the Responsibility|
|Westwood individual members and friends|
|who are donating 25% of the pledged contributions|
|Quartile||% of Donors in the group||# of Donors in the group||Average Donation per Month||Range||Amount Donated by Quartile per Month||Average Donation per Year|
Similar to previous years, this year’s stewardship campaign uses information (like this table) from “Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship” by Wayne B. Clark copyright 2007.present
Person E has been contributing to Westwood for years. At $5100 for the year, donated in July, their pledge (the commitment to support for a year) puts them in the middle of the 1st quartile (about $425/month).
Person Y often writes a cheque and puts it in the collection plate when they attend. They contribute generously because they can, and believe in the benefit of participating in a faith community. However, their contributions do not appear on this table because they have not communicated a desire to support Westwood on a regular basis.
Persons W & X are a couple; both are very active at Westwood. Together they contribute $410/month. Their contribution (divided between them: $205 per month each) puts them on the cusp between the 2nd and 3rd quartiles.
This chart also illustrates what a vulnerable financial position Westwood is in. When so few people are responsible for such a large proportion of the contributions, one of them moving away or dying can have a dramatic impact on revenues and, therefore, Westwood’s ability to achieve its purpose for being in existence.
Membership & Friendship
Westwood has 79 members and numerous friends, many of whom provide financial and volunteer support to the congregation. Westwood continues to gain a few new friends and members every year, but at the same time, some friends and members move away or become less active.
There is no membership fee at Westwood Unitarian.
It is up to each of us, as part of our faith community, to contribute as much as we can and how we can.
Proposal for 2020-2021:
A Balanced Budget financed by
an increase in contributions and a FUNdraising event.
The proposed budget for 2020 – 2021 totals only slightly higher than last. It maintains current programs and includes a 2.2% increase (Alberta’s inflation rate) for staff. Some areas of expenditure will be able to hold the line, with no budgeted increase. Others (e.g. our building) will likely have some significant expenses next year. We expect a shift on the revenue side of our equation, however. Our space has not been rented as regularly this past year, and we cannot predict that it will improve next year. Therefore, we will need an increase in other revenue (mostly contributions) to make up for the expected shortfall in rentals.
So much of what Westwood does could be described as Opportunities to Learn, Grow, & Connect. Here, we are talking about the special programs offered beyond the realm of our Sunday morning activities, things like our Freethinkers’ Book Club, our Committee on Shared Ministry, even our choir to some extent. And, of course, our staff and the board play important roles in this programming.
Westwood continues to move forward in offering a Welcoming Accessible Space. In recent years, we have moved from entirely volunteer driven grounds maintenance to a partly paid/partly volunteer model. A significant proportion of our office administrator’s time is spent looking after the rental of our building and paying the utility and other bills. Even without a mortgage, it still costs us about $30,000 annually to maintain our building and grounds, keep the lights on, and save a bit for emergent situations such as this year’s furnace and water heater replacement.
Although we are self-governing and self-determining, Westwood is a member of a national group of UU congregations. Our Unitarian Universalist Connections provide us with advice, buying & investing power, shared resources, and opportunities to support the work of our volunteers through conferences and workshops.
Compassionate Support for Members & Friends, of any age, is a vital aspect of why we exist. We operate a Compassion Bank, offer New to UU & New to Westwood programs, organize memorial services and rites of passage. “Westwood is a compassionate community of …” is how our purpose statement begins.
Support for Social Justice comes in many forms; movie nights, winter solstice recipients, child & youth education and activities are a few of these. It should be noted that support for social justice is reflected in our other budget categories by the very nature of who we are and the kind of programming we offer in Sunday services and our opportunities to learn, grow and connect.
About one third of our resources are used to provide Strong Sunday Services. We have the good fortune to be a partly lay-led congregation with a minister who provides half of our services and contributes to the planning for the rest of them. We provide childcare on Sunday mornings so that parents who attend services, and those who provide assistance with services, have responsible child care. We have All-Generation Services as well as worship experiences specifically for our children and youth. We understand the important support role that music plays in our worship and fund it accordingly. We serve coffee, tea, & juice after our services.
As I write this, I realize how very fortunate we are to be able to offer these life-affirming things to each other and to newcomers! Our community helps bolster both our collective and individual efforts to rest, grow, and serve the world.
Although Unitarian Universalists are often on the forefront of societal change, changes can be challenging, for us as individuals. Westwood will continue to evolve with the times and we may decide to allocate our revenue somewhat differently in the future, but that is a discussion and decision for all of us and is not reflected in this budget proposal.
Which brings us back to the other side of the equation: our sources of revenue.
Our goal is to achieve at least $125,000 in pledged, supplementary and anonymous contributions; this is slightly more than the amount we contributed in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and slightly less than our contributions in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The projection for ‘Other Revenue’ is $64,250, comprised of $10,000 in rental revenue, $40,000 from this year’s casino revenue, $7,000 from a FUNdraising event, and the remainder generated from workshops, interest, and other miscellaneous sources.
We will need each of our members and friends to increase their contributions by 2-3% in order to balance next year’s budget.
Some things to reflect upon:
- Has my income changed in the past while; is this reflected in my contribution to Westwood’s Mission?
- Are there other areas of my budget that could be trimmed a bit in order to increase my contribution to Westwood’s activities and aspirations?
- Would I miss any one of these items in a week: dessert, a glass of wine or beer, a fast food meal?
- Would I miss a dollar a day if I invested it in moving Westwood toward a thriving future??
- What about a quarter a day?
- What difference would it make (to me, to people I know, to the community) if Westwood ceased to exist?
- What role do I want to play in Westwood’s goals/activities?
If you’ve never contributed on a regular basis before, please consider doing so this year. If you tell us your intentions in advance (i.e. pledge), we are able to use that information to plan our expenditures.
If you are already a regular contributor, thank you for your support in the past! We hope you are able to continue that support; we sincerely hope that you are able to increase your financial commitment.
Small or large, all contributions help support the community’s activities and aspirations.
$10/month pays one month of the telephone bill.
$25/month pays for our Compassionate Connections program, or the choir’s annual music budget
$30/month keeps our website online.
$40/month provides our staff with WCB protection.
$83/month pays for supplies for the childrens’ program
a quarter a day = $7.50/month = 91.25/year
a loonie a day = $28-31/month = $365/year
…you get the idea…it all adds up
A final consideration: What's My Fair Share?
It’s not necessarily easy to decide on the right amount to pledge.
The Suggested Fair-Share Giving Guide offers an interesting perspective to help tackle the question of “how much is right for me?” The guide is progressive i.e.once your basic needs are met, it’s a case of ‘the more you have, the more generous you can afford to be.’