When the Special Appeal became extra special

For many years, the special appeal at the annual auction has allowed the congregation to fund something that – although not funded in the regular budget – would make a real difference in congregational experience.  The special appeal has funded the benches on the patio, the lightweight tables in the social hall, the screens in the foyer and RE building, and the initial set up of the projector and screen in the sanctuary – and much more.  This has all been incredible, but a few years ago we had the idea that we should do something even more “special” with the special appeal.  We should share it.

It was the year we’d started sharing the plate with a community partner, and we knew how powerful it could be to be able to do something big and generous for one of our partners in Fort Collins – so that we wouldn’t just be keeping the money to grow the blessings in our community, but we’d be passing it on – which felt like living our values.  And so we tried it out, and the results were incredible.  Suddenly instead of raising $3,000 or $4,000 in the special appeal, we started raising $7,000, and then $9,000, and then….last year was the most amazing thing when we raised over $18,000.  You can read about all the worship improvements that these funds enabled in this blog post from Chris Reed.

But maybe even more importantly, nearly $9,000 of this money went to our partners at Faith Family Hospitality to support the building of a patio and playground for children at their new transitional housing unit – a house that FFH leases from the city as a temporary home for up to seven families working towards self-sufficiency.  This home is currently under renovation, and over $300,000 must be raised to complete this project.  Which is why for this year’s Special Appeal, we’re going to keep supporting FFH and this important work!

This year we hope to raise $10,000 for FFH to replace dilapidated kitchen cabinets in the transitional home, known as Sherwood House. There are three communal kitchens in this old home, and all need new cabinets.  And in turn, we’re planning to use the money we raise for Foothills to do a complete overhaul of our Foothills’ website – which as you may have noticed, very much needs it!

A few years ago we might have thought that this goal number was far out of our reach – but this congregation has shown us again and again that this is not the case.  The generosity of this community has been incredibly inspiring, and ensures that we are in so many ways living up to our mission of truly unleashing courageous love both within and beyond our congregation.

Thank you for being a part of this important and extra-special effort, and hope to see you at the auction on November 11th! Get your tickets here.

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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.

Stewardship Campaign Update April 2017

foothills-heartflame-logo-2-1-17-answering-the-call-o-love-1The Stewardship Team would like to thank you for Answering the Call of Love!  We are wrapping up our Stewardship Campaign, Foothills’ annual fundraising drive.  And once again, you’ve come through for a successful campaign. The most exciting news is that we have surpassed 400 pledge units for the first time in our church’s history!  We have 414 households making financial commitments for the support of our church and our work in the community and beyond.  Thank You!  This includes 49 new pledge units, which is up from last year’s 39.  Thank You, New Folks!  And our total so far … drum roll, please… is $659,874!  This is an increase of 7% – very exciting – and that amount will rise throughout the year.

Your financial commitments range from $20 a year to $20,000 a year!  WOW!  Our average pledge is about $1,600.  Our new pledgers averaged $791.  336 of our pledge units are Members; 78 are Friends.

You should have received a letter in the mail last week confirming what you indicated your financial commitment is.  If you didn’t respond to our initial request, we kept your amount the same as last year, as has been our policy the last several years.  Please take a look at it.

For those of you who are data nerds, we will be crunching the numbers further in the next few months, and more statistical information will be available.  We are encouraged by the trends we’re seeing.  Thank you for your generosity!  I hope you feel, like I do, that being a part of the culture of abundance here at Foothills feels good. Together, we are truly making a difference for our congregation and our community.  Thanks again for Answering the Call of Love.

With Gratitude,
Kay Williams, Chair – and the Stewardship Team:
Andrea Bazoin, Jim Lathrop, Peg MacMorris, Brendan Mahoney, and Lynn Young

No Buyer’s Remorse Here

From Stewardship Team member Peg MacMorris

We are now in the middle of our Stewardship Campaign – Answering the Call of Love. I am Peg MacMorris, part of the Stewardship Team, and I want to tell you some of my story.

Have you ever made a sizable purchase and then thought, “ OMG, what have I done? Can I really afford that?” This “Buyer’s Remorse” is surely a common reaction to a big expenditure.

I want to say here that I never experience Buyers Remorse in response to my church financial commitment.

Why? I think it is because I want to support all of the good things the church is doing (all the social justice programs, the choir, the RE program, outreach and caring, as well as Sunday services) and I can’t imagine that any other use of the money would bring me more sense of fulfillment and gratitude for being a part of such an endeavor.

When I first joined a UU Church in 1986-87, I remember that although no one asked me to pledge, I took my income tax refund that year and sent it to the church. I was a single Mom at the time and not very flush with money, but I knew that the “bonus of several hundred dollars” I had just received would be well spent in supporting church programs. I appreciated what the church provided me and my young children in terms of grounding and support in a new community.

Over the years, my participation in church programs has grown and has included significant positions of service and leadership in each of my church communities. (Foothills Unitarian is my third UU church.) I know more about the programs at the church, about church finances and what the dollars that I contribute can do to help those programs. I am so grateful to be part of a church that stands up for justice in many ways as it reaches out to help the homeless and immigrants, AND works on difficult problems like Climate Justice. I feel spiritually grounded each week by attending Sunday services led by our two amazing ministers and receiving the musical gifts of our choir and other musicians.
Now in this time at Foothills, there is tremendous need to open our doors to so many in the community who are looking for ways to connect and act for the good of our society. Our church is opening its doors widely and I love that. Last year I doubled our commitment from the previous year, and have no remorse. I am grateful that I have the resources to share with this church community and will increase again. I have learned that being generous brings me joy.

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