It’s time to Answer the Call of Love – from Kay Williams

Foothills HeartFlame logo 2.1.17 ANSWERING THE CALL O LOVE (1).jpgIt’s time. Time to help support all of the important work that Foothills is doing to unleash courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond. It’s time to affirm what Foothills means to you and your family personally.  And, it’s time to thoughtfully consider your financial commitment and the ways that love calls each of us, and all of us together to respond to the challenges and hopes of our world today.

It’s time to answer the call of love.

We ask all friends and members to keep an eye on your snail mailbox during the next few days – you’ll find information on the ways we’ve been growing, and the ways we are all needed to respond to the needs of today – to meet the rising fear and hatred with a bolder, more courageous love.

To dive in now, be sure to check out our website to see where we have been and where we are going as we discover what it will mean to Answer the Call of Love.

Thank you for your generous support of Foothills and for making all that we do together possible – Kay Williams, Stewardship Team Chair

P.S. If you’ve been preparing your taxes, and thinking you would like to save money on them next time, click here to learn how your pledge of financial commitment to Foothills can provide you with tax advantages for next year.

2 New Ways to Save Taxes & Pay your Pledge – from Cherry & Leonard Sokoloski

TWO WAYS TO SAVE TAXES WHEN PAYING YOUR PLEDGE OF
FINANCIAL COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH

 If you’re planning how to pay your financial commitment to Foothills for 2017-18, here are two ways to fulfill your commitment and SAVE ON TAXES!

1.      Give appreciated securities (stocks or mutual funds). When you transfer securities DIRECTLY to the church, you avoid capital gains tax, and you are able to give the appreciated amount as a gift. If you sell the securities yourself and give the proceeds to the church, you lose this tax benefit.

2.      Donate part or all of your RMD. If you are older than 70 ½, and you have an IRA, you must take a “required minimum distribution” from your IRA each year. This is taxable income. However, under current tax law, you are allowed to use part or all of your RMD as a charitable gift. That portion will not be taxed.

Important info about a gift from your IRA: The IRS does not allow you to avoid taxes on your RMD and also deduct the gift as a charitable donation. Only one or the other. Therefore, this option is most useful for people who do NOT itemize on their tax return. Please contact Cherry Sokoloski (below) for more information, and also consult with your CPA or other tax advisor.

If you plan to pursue one of these options, please let Cherry or the church office know so we can explain the process.

Remember, to receive the tax benefit, you must transfer securities directly to the church, instead of selling them first yourself. The church will then sell the securities. In the case of a gift from your IRA, it can be cash or securities, but again, it must be transferred directly from the IRA to the church.

Your friendly coordinator for gifted securities,

Cherry Sokoloski:  970-484-5705 or LCSoko@Q.com

Church office: 970-493-5906

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

Board Updates – Leadership Workshop & Pledge Drive

Spring is here and with that a lot of good work is being done at Foothills.

We hope you’ll join us this Sunday at 12:30 for our Congregational Forum where we will be providing an update on the Governance Task Force, the Mission Task Force, and some financial updates.  Bring your questions and your feedback, and as always, we thank you for your partnership and for our walking together in this important work.

This past Saturday, Foothills hosted a gathering of of senior lay leaders from UU congregations all across the area – we had representatives from congregations from Littleton to Casper, with over 40 total participants! It was led by the Rev. Nancy Bowen, Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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This gathering focused on the leadership of the Board of Trustees, the Nominating/Leadership Development Committee, and the Committee on Ministry.  We spoke about what partnership and alignment looks like among a these leadership teams, and how being aligned doesn’t mean doing the same work, but that we are working towards the same thing, same mission.

12924412_1067181093338607_5450508639949069289_nSome of my favorite take a-ways from the day were:

  • How a congregation can grow quickly while successfully protecting human connection.
  • How to find and prepare new leadership
  • The tensions that arise in governance/organizational structure shifts – specifically the ways that as these transitions occur, the organization becomes temporarily centralized in order to establish the new systems, and then as these systems take hold, the organization “exhales” into a less centralized structure.  We spoke a lot about these sorts of polarities, and the need to keep a healthy balance.
  • How we need to strive to be like-hearted instead of like-minded – can we be curious rather than judgmental in our differences?
  • The key leadership practices that demonstrate a covenantal partnership
  • We watched the video from Simon Sinek in his TED talk about the Why, How and What….and how this idea translates inside our congregations – how we too need to start with why.  (This was a perfect set up for the meeting right after this workshop when we continued our good work on our mission statement!)

It was a rich five hours where we all contributed to one another deepening our understanding of leadership in our faith. Your Board, Nominating Committee, and soon to be a new Committee of shared ministries are excited to put these ideas into practice as we complete this church year, and prepare for our future years.

Speaking of our future years – thank you to all of you who have participated in our stewardship campaign over this past month, and an extra thanks to the many of you who have increased your pledges. Your generosity is inspiring and much needed for us to fulfill the very good work of this church. Thank you very much.

As members, we are responsible for our church. Our operating budget is funded almost completely from pledges. This coming year we are paying for 12% increase to our staff’s healthcare, 2 full time ministers, hoping to move Ryan to full time, paying our staff fair compensation per the UUA, as well as pay a living wage.

I ask of my fellow members who have yet to pledge this year to please do so as soon as you can. Your pledges allow us to finalize our budget for the coming year, which we will then present to you all at our annual congregational meeting on June 5th.  When we each participate in the most generous and responsible way we can, we are able to continue the good work we are here to do, and fulfill our mission of making a transformative impact on the world around us.

 

Getting Into Focus

When the board met on February 22, we discussed all the good work being done within our congregation. We all feel spring is in the air. We discussed what we are working on, and what we want to accomplish before our time on the board this year is complete. Here are the areas we are currently focused on, and will be focused on right up to July 1st.

Hopefully all of you know about our Mission Task Force made up of five current board members who met with many of you between services in January to review what we have used in the past for our Mission, as well as discuss what a mission is for, and why we are looking at creating a new one to better reflect who Foothills is today, as well as what inspires us as well as our visitors. We collected many helpful ideas, visions, and words to apply to our new mission. The task force will be presenting a draft version of our new mission to see how it sits with all of us, then they will do some more work on it before they will present it at our annual Congregational meeting for a vote on June 5th.

Our Governance Task Force, which is made up of 2 board members, 3 congregation-at-large members, and Rev. Howell Lind, has now met a number of times. They are well on their way doing the good long work of discovering, creating, sharing, and trying on the best suited governance for Foothills. As we have shared before, this work will take about two years of their time. They are working closely with the model in Governance and Ministry by Dan Hotchkiss.

The Task Force looks forward to gathering information from all of you between services this coming Sunday March 6th, March 13th, 20th and April 3rd in the sanctuary at 10:10am – 10:45am.  They will use your feedback in these sessions to evaluate and updating our governance structure. These first sessions are primarily to collect concerns and questions from the congregation. They will share some of what they have been doing and what they expect to happen as we move through this process but mostly right now they just want to hear from you. Please join us for at least one of these important discussions.

The Board has been working with Rev. Gretchen Haley and a board appointed advisory team made up of one board member and 3 congregation-at-large members to interview and submit a candidate to the board for our new assistant minister position. The Board is happy to share that Foothills UU has received a number of excellent applicants, making this an exciting process, and we will hire this one-year, renewable contract position soon. The new assistant minister will start their position August 1st, just a month after Rev. Haley begins officially as senior minister.

I am happy to share that our Stewardship campaign that started two weeks ago is going very well! Thank you to all of you who have pledged thus far! Thank you for your generosity and commitment to the good work being done by this amazing community. I am very excited for what is ahead! For those who haven’t pledged yet, I ask that you please turn in your pledge cards as soon as you can. I must thank Kay Williams and her dedicated team who kicked off the campaign in church these past two Sundays with great success and some chaotic fun!

The other big areas the board will be focused on the remainder of this church year will be continuing our communication efforts with you all, as well as focusing on strengthening our leadership development for new leaders here at Foothills. Our next Informational Forum given by the Board and Howell will be held on April 10th after the 11am service. This will be the last time we are having this type of informational meeting before our annual congregational meeting on June 5th. At the informational forum we will continue to share the work the board is up to, how we are doing after the stewardship campaign, and it will be another opportunity for us to listen to you.

As we continue to grow, so does the skills and needs of our church leaders. This has been recognized for a while by many church leaders, and this church year we have made a great effort at better preparing these generous volunteers. This year we have begun delivering quality leadership development workshops to those who have shown an interest in becoming a leader, are currently leading, and are on our nominating committee. We will be having our next leadership development opportunities on Wednesday, March 30th and Wednesday April 6th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. If you are interested in attending please speak to one of our ministers.

I want to end this blog by simply saying I have the honor to serve you in the company of an incredible Board of Trustees. This is a team of wonderfully dedicated volunteers who are generous, thoughtful, funny, and visionary. We are committed to representing all of you. We look forward to helping prepare next year’s “dream team” Board…and we thank each of you who make Foothills UU the special congregation it is.

Our Annual Every Member Canvass is upon us!

stewardshipSunday we kicked off this exciting season.  It’s time to affirm how important Foothills is to you. We have experienced so much generosity, caring, and serving together over the past year, and no doubt next year will be just as transforming. Our theme for the 2016-2017 canvass is Together – We Are Transforming. We hope that Foothills is transforming you, as we transform the community and even the greater world.

Speaking of generosity, a very grateful thank you to church member Steve Sedam, who designed the beautiful brochure that you received in your mail recently (that’s right – I said mail, not email!). It highlights the many vibrant groups and activities that we love about Foothills.

In order to keep those programs going, we need your responsible financial commitment (which is what we call a pledge).

Other big goals on the horizon:

  • Bringing Ryan Marvel to full-time!
  • Meeting the UUA fair compensation guidelines for our staff who are the drivers and supporters of our congregation’s many great programs.
  • Funding the 12% increase in staff health insurance.
  • Performing some basic building maintenance that has been too-long postponed.

Please help us achieve these goals and more. Thoughtfully consider your pledge to your church, think about what Foothills means to your family, and give as generously as you are able. Together, we can make a big difference in the life of our church.

Let us continue to nurture the culture of abundance that has been built and grown here over the years. Be Transformed!

Thank You – Your Stewardship Team

submitted by Kay Williams, Chair