Financial Update from Scott Denning, Treasurer

 

Spring is in the air (and snow is on the lilacs!), so it’s time for an update on the financial state of the church from your intrepid treasurer.  Below, I will review the current year’s finances, as well as the outcome of our annual Stewardship campaign and highlights of next year’s proposed budget.

IMPORTANT: we will hold a Budget Hearing on Sunday May 7 from 10:40 to 11:30 AM (between second and third services). Please come to this meeting, where we will present the details of the proposed budget. This is your best opportunity to get your questions answered before we vote on the proposed budget at the annual Congregational Meeting on June 4.

Current Year’s Finances:

We are 10 months into our current church year, and we’re doing very well. Pledge collections continue at a near-record pace. We’ve now collected 80% of our annual budgeted pledge (vs 70% this time last year). Spending is exactly what we’ve budgeted: 76% of this year’s budget, compared to 73% this time last year.  We project that we will end the church year on June 30 with a balance within 0.5% of our annual budget.

One of our budget priorities this year was to augment the church’s reserve account. Think of this as our “savings” account from which we draw when expenses exceed income in a particular month, and which we pay into when expenses are less. Our written policies specify that the reserve account should be 10% of our annual budget. The reserve account was pretty much wiped out in the Great Recession, and we’ve been slowly building it back up. The reserve account will be about $50k at the end of this church year on June 30.  Our target is $76k (based on next year’s proposed budget), so we’re getting there but have a ways to go.

Until we can grow our reserve account back to the 10% level, one of the most important ways you can help the church meet its monthly bills is to pay your pledge regularly. If you haven’t already done so, please consider setting up automatic monthly payments rather than paying in unpredictable lump sums. See Carolyn at the church office for details.

Stewardship Campaign:

Thanks to all of you, and especially to our wonderful Stewardship Team who made this year’s campaign very successful. We have pledges of over $660k for the church year that begins on July 1. This is up more than 7% over last year — a very healthy increase! For the first time ever, more than 400 households pledged this year, including 336 member households as well as 78 nonmember households. This represents a total of about 750 people! You can read more details here.

Next Year’s Proposed Budget:

Considering your generous pledge plus additional revenue from plate collections, contributions, fundraisers, and various other sources, we project total income of about $760k for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Therefore we will propose a budget in that amount. Almost 94% of next year’s budget is supported by pledges and donations!

Next year’s proposed budget includes small salary increases for most of our staff as we continue toward our goal of paying everybody at the midpoint of the guidelines of the denomination for our region.

We are very excited to include a request for a part-time Membership Coordinator (a new hire) in the proposed budget!  As our Three Services Experiment has made clear, we are attracting a lot of new members and friends. Most other large UU congregations have found that the expense of hiring a Membership Coordinator literally pays for itself in a few years through growth in pledging. As more people join our community, this new staff person will ensure that all are welcome and well integrated into the Foothills UU family.

Please bring your questions, comments, and concerns about next year’s proposed budget to the Budget Hearing on Sunday May 7 at 10:40 AM. See you there!

Budgeting Update from Scott Denning and Erik Martinson

This update is a part of a Governance Update being sent by email to all Foothills members.

Every year, the church prepares a budget in the spring for the church year starting on July 1, projecting monthly income and spending 15 months in advance. Our budgets are balanced, so we spend only what we earn.

Nearly all of our income is from the pledges of financial commitment made by members and friends of our community.

The budget for next fiscal year has been prepared by the Finance committee, affirmed by the board, and will be voted on for final approval by the members of the congregation at our annual meeting on June 4.

A hearing to introduce and discuss details of the budget will be held on May 7 at 10:40am. Highlights include an overall increase to the budget of nearly $43,000 made possible by a projected pledging increase of over 8%!

Most of the additional income will be invested in our human resources, including a new part-time coordinator position for membership, as well as salary adjustments to reflect current UUA compensation guidelines for our ministers and staff.

Please plan to attend the May 7 hearing to inform your vote as the budget presentation at the Annual Meeting will be abridged.

The Business of the Church – from Board President, Erin Hottenstein

As the school year comes to a close, so does the church year. On Sunday, June 4 at 11:00 a.m. we will hold our official annual congregational meeting. Please save the date! All members will be asked to attend to vote on elected offices as well as bylaws changes and the annual budget.

Lay leaders – who are all volunteers/members of the congregation – and Foothills staff have been hard at work preparing for the annual meeting.
To help members prepare, a packet will be sent out around May 18th by email (paper copies available by request) that will contain the important information you need to know before voting.
At our Annual Meeting, in addition to the elections and votes mentioned above, we will be thanking our outgoing officers, hearing about the results of our stewardship campaign, and officially moving forward on our Governance trial year.  Because this is a lot to pack into a single meeting, and because we have over 600 members, we’d love to be in conversation with you before the meeting to hear your feedback and to help you learn about these various facets of our congregational life.  As a result, in other blog posts you’ll find mini-updates on each of these areas, as well as notices of meetings where you can discuss these topics more fully with their respective leaders.
We look forward to talking more about all of these things with you and moving our congregation forward as we continue to unleash courageous love!  So, please,
mark your calendars and watch your email around the 18th. We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Future of Our Rummage Sale

The Foothills Rummage Sale has been a cornerstone of both our community-building and fundraising efforts over the past three decades.  The amount of time and care that so many have given on behalf of the Rummage Sale is truly mind-boggling.  This time and care has in turn resulted in up to $25,000 (at its peak so far) in funds to support our mission and vision in a given year.  Along the way, the Rummage Sale has been a great way for people to get to know each other and to build friendships that last far beyond the few weeks of the sale.  It’s also been a great way to serve our community, offering low-cost good-quality goods right as the school year returns and many are searching out bargains.

Over these same years, however, many changes have been happening both in the church and in Fort Collins.  In both, the population has grown exponentially.  Within Fort Collins, this population increase has meant that there are now multiple second-hand stores that are open throughout the year, so that our offering isn’t quite as value-added as it used to be. This is a relatively minor consideration, however, as we look at some of the other changes that have occurred….

Within our own community, our growth has meant that space is almost always tight – and as we have moved to a year-round schedule, while the summer is slightly less crowded, it is still often full throughout the week with programs and meetings.  Each year, as our community has grown, so have the donations (thank you!), and so the need for space and volunteers have also grown.  While we ask everyone to pre-sort their goods, we ultimately have more stuff than we have usable space, and this is frustrating for everyone.

Speaking of that usable space, as religious education classes for children and youth are active and well-attended throughout the whole year, the space available in the Classroom Building is less than it has been previously, and even when it is available, it is able to sustain a much lower impact as it needs to be reset to accommodate children and/or youth every Sunday – so clean up is very stressful.  (To help with this, we have experimented with moving the dates earlier in the summer, but this has resulted in fewer volunteers available due to vacations…we’ve wondered if moving to June would be better…?)

Also, over these years our leadership has prioritized holding worship every Sunday as central to our mission. This was especially made possible by the addition of a second minister in 2012.  Although we attempted to hold these services outdoors, our growing population and value to ensure the space is accessible to all made this not a viable alternative, and so this resulted in the sanctuary no longer being a place for the rummage sale to be held on Sundays.

The various space constraints are also made more challenging by a dwindling volunteer population resulting from two main factors.  First, our longtime volunteers are – much to their chagrin – aging.  They no longer can or want to volunteer in the same physically demanding ways that they have in the past.  Many have stepped down entirely while others have simply scaled back.  The vacancies left by these changes, however, have not been sufficiently filled by a new volunteer base – particularly in terms of taking management and leadership level responsibility.

Younger people today are often overly busy with two-career households and caring for both children and aging parents.  Free time is down – nationwide.  What free time people do have, they prioritize more direct-service, high-impact, and often short-term volunteer roles – for example, we have no problem filling our 25 twice-a-month Food Bank @ Foothills roles – we actually have more interest than we have volunteer slots – and these are all direct-service, high-impact and short-term roles.

This volunteer shortage means that the community and friendship building aspects of the sale just aren’t as great as they were in the past – because it’s more stressful to do so much work without enough people to do that work.  Also with the space constraints, the sale is spread out across more of our campus, meaning volunteers often work on their own – which may be good for some seeking solitude!  – but isn’t conducive to the laughter and fun times that many of us remember.

All of this – the population growth, the space constraints, and the changes in volunteering – lead us to wondering if and how we can continue our Rummage Sale in the next year – and beyond.  We need new leaders to emerge if we are going to be able to continue – leaders who will look at these challenges and find new and creative solutions, and leaders who are willing to take on a management level role.  We believe we will need at least four such leaders to step forward by February 15th if we are going to hold a Rummage Sale this year.

We hope all those who care about the Rummage Sale and who are willing to consider being one of these new leaders will come to a Rummage Sale meeting on Sunday January 22nd at 10:10 in the Sanctuary.  If you have questions before then, please be in touch with Pam Stevens (970-225-1223, pamelahope@aol.com) or Ben Manvel (970-484-3249, bmanvel@gmail.com), longtime dedicated leaders for the Rummage Sale.  So much good has happened as a result of this incredible effort, and now’s the time for us to work out the next good steps, whatever those will be.

First Quarter Financial Report 2016

Colorado State University

Scott Denning Church Treasurer

As the autumn leaves blaze in golden glory, it’s time to review the financial happenings since we started our new church year on July 1.  The first quarter news is generally good: we’re on budget for both income and expenses at this early point in the year. We have a bit of a seasonal cash crunch as we do every fall, but we’ve made some changes that will get us through more comfortably than in previous years. This seasonal dip shows how important it is to pay your pledge on a regular basis if you can.

The church budget this year is $717,110.  Nearly every dollar comes from us: 91% is in pledges and donations, with the Rummage Sale, Service Auction, and Bookstore each contributing about 2% to 3% of the budget. The vast majority  (68%) of our expenses pay for our amazing staff of 6.75 full-time equivalent employees. Like a small business, we have to make payroll, pay insurance, maintain the building, and pay our utilities every month no matter what. At the end of September, we had spent 24% of our annual budget, and collected 22% of our expected income.

There’s a distinct seasonal cycle of pledge income at the church: we collect a big surplus in December, and spend it down for the rest of the year. The graph below shows the church’s cumulative net income at the end of each month over the past five years. A lot of people pay their whole year’s pledge right before New Year’s. I used to do this myself, to make sure I could deduct it on my taxes in April. Unfortunately, this means that we are chronically short of pledge income in the fall every year, so we’ve been encouraging people to pay monthly if they can. As you can see form the graph, the seasonal cycle has been getting flatter in recent years, which is good.

In addition to our regular expenses last month, we had Buckhorn and some work on the building and grounds.  This month we pay the interest on our member notes (debt owed to our members). These expenses come at a time when we’ve paid out about $10,000 more than we’ve taken in since July 1. It would really help if more people paid their pledge every month rather than in a lump sum in December!

The church has a reserve fund to get us through the lean times that happen every fall. It was completely depleted a few years ago after the Great Recession, but we’ve been steadily building it back up again and now there’s $40,000 in the reserve. We also made some changes to the way we account for end of year expenses, so we also have over $50,000 in the bank, in addition to the reserve. So we’re in much better shape than we have been in previous autumns.

Look carefully at the lines on the graph that show our cumulative net income at the end of each church year:  they always end within a few thousand dollars of zero! This is evidence of good the stewardship of our Board and staff: we develop a budget each March following the pledge drive, then plan and execute for 15 months to hit the target within 1% or 2%.

The church budget is in good shape.  Please consider pledging monthly, preferably by automatic funds transfer from your bank. This would help a lot in managing the annual fall dip in our cash flow. Look for another one of these quarterly reports when the snow squeaks under your boots in January!

chart

Thank you from the Stewardship Team

Our Annual Stewardship Pledge Drive is winding down, and we are pleased with the results. We hope you agree that it feels really good to give what you know is generous for you – so that you feel it a little bit!

Giving in Gratitude is a spiritual practice that we strive to live here at Foothills. We now have 380 pledging households for the 2016-17 church year. And we have 35 new pledgers this year – that’s great!

This year’s pledge drive is up about $40,000 over last year. Since we haven’t emphasized money so much in the past, the last several years we’ve tried to educate the congregation about how important it is for all of us to share our resources to help maintain and grow all of the wonderful programs and activities at Foothills. We’re attempting to make talking about money not so taboo anymore. 77% of our income comes from your pledges – that is our reality. We are the church.

Most congregants responded well to the Stewardship Team’s request to increase their pledge this year. As our Treasurer said at the May 1st Budget Hearing, our church really needs an increased pledge income every year, since our expenses also go up.

If you’ve ever wondered what kinds of pledges we receive, here’s a snapshot:

  1. 15 households pledge between $6,060 and $18,250
  2. 34 households pledge from $3,060 to $6,000
  3. 66 households pledge from $1,560 to $3,000
  4. The remaining pledges range from $20 to $1500 per year
  • 202 households increased their pledge this year. Thank you!
  • Our average pledge is $1,607. Our median is $960.

To make our church and its exciting and life-changing programs sustainable, we need to responsibly support them. Looking ahead, can you see your family increasing your pledging level? Look especially at the categories of giving above – can you get on a path towards moving into the next higher level? Just a few additional pledgers moving from level 4 to level 3, or level 3 to level 2, would make a huge difference in what we are able to do and offer as we seek to fulfill our mission.

We ask you to thoughtfully consider what it would take to increase your commitment to Foothills. Our staff and lay leaders – and all of us- have worked so hard to make this such a warm and vibrant community.  It is our congregation, and it is up to us to ensure its vibrant future.  Let us continue transforming – together.

Thank You – Kay Williams, Stewardship Chair

Linking Inspiration and Generosity by Nate Donovan, Foothills Treasurer

Nate DonovanHello Foothills friends: As we begin another church year, continuing this journey, I reflect on where we’ve been as a community and the bright future we can help shape – together. Our stories can often highlight the inspiration that motivates us to give generously. Below is one from the Donovans, yet first, a few words from your Finance Committee:

Foothills Unitarian closed its books on the 2014-2015 year in good shape due to the generosity of members and friends and careful attention to expenses by staff, ministers and lay leadership. We ended the fiscal year June 30 with a slight deficit of $2733 on income of 669,204 and expenses of 671,937. We will cover this shortfall from reserves, which will then total about 32,000. Pledge income of 571,359 exceeded our budgeted pledge number by about 14,000. Thank you!

When our young family came to Foothills in 2001, our five and eight-year-old sons absolutely loved the RE program, and they got us parents out of bed many a Sunday morning, wanting us all to attend church. We grew to deeply love the people and culture we found and helped shape at Foothills, and we wanted to give back – by serving as RE teachers, on the Board and committees, and giving money and pledges that reflected the inspiration that we received on a daily and weekly basis.

We saw how that money was used inside the church and given to help individuals and groups in the larger community, and we were inspired to give more generously. We’ve made a practice of regular volunteering with Faith Family Hospitality, and over the years Nate has bought way too many good books at the Rummage Sale. I continue to be amazed at the generosity of the people at Foothills, as we grow together and expand our ability to serve each other and more people and causes in fulfilling our Mission. It has all been very meaningful to us, and lots of fun.

These are the stories that inspire me to give part of our personal income, consider gifts of capital and through our wills and estates, and serve as one of your Board members and current Treasurer. As one of the people authorized to sign checks, I see on a regular basis how the church responsibly uses your donations. Through the years serving on the Board in 2005-2006 and later from 2008-2011 as Pres-Elect, President and Past President, I have seen our church operation grow in complexity and size of budget, as more families discover our Sense of Place.

And though we delegate raising and spending of money, and many decisions, to our dedicated volunteers, paid staff and ministers, every dollar and every hour of volunteer time generously given, and gratefully received, still counts as much as it did yesterday, or in 2001, or 1976, or 1960. We are still inspired to work together to translate our values into impacts on lives at Foothills and in the wider community.

We look forward to a bright future filled with many meaningful adventures. Thank you for your generosity, and see you at the Start-Up Festival “Dunk Tank” and around church as we gather together finding “the strength to stand face forward, courage to walk into the dawning day.”