Tag Archives: church finances

Big donors at church

Dad and I were just talking. Non-profit organizations that rely heavily on individual donations (as opposed to non-profits that rely on grants) typically recognize big donors in some way, e.g., in the annual report there will be listings of donors under categories such as “Platinum Givers,” “President’s Circle,” etc. Indeed, fundraisers tell us that big donors really like to be recognized in this way, and this should be one of the techniques you should use to cultivate your big donors.

Since Unitarian Universalist churches are heavily dependent on individual donations, it would make sense to publish such lists in a congregation’s annual report: “Channing Circle, giving $20,000+” and “Parker Patrons, giving $10,000-20,000,” etc. However, as an essentially egalitarian religion, we don’t want to leave out people with modest who means who happen to give a substantial percentage of their income, so Dad and I thought we’d include that in the categories of giving, e.g., “Channing Circle, those who give $20,000+ or 10%+ of gross annual income,” etc.

Would you implement such a system to reward big donors and stimulate increased giving in your congregation? Discuss.

Mr. Crankypants, my evil alter ego, tells me he is “sick of hearing about @#$!!% birds.” He also wants to know “Who really cares about your sister anyway? It’s time for Mr. Crankypants to write something again.” So before he pushes me bodily away from the computer, let me introduce Mr. Crankypants (ouch! quit pushing, I’m going already)….

Mr. Crankypants is going to resist the temptation of commenting on the crowning of Pope Ratzinger of the Inquisition. What’s that you say? It’s not a crowning? Dear dear, it sure looks like remnants of Holy Roman Empire ritual to Mr. Crankypants. And what’s that — he has a different name now? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because that’s not the subject of this post.

No, let’s skip the Pope and talk about the Unitarian Universalist succession of leadership. That’s right, at General Assembly this year, Rev. Bill Sinkford is running for re-election as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Since he is running unopposed, we all pretty much know who’s going to win the election. And surprisingly Mr. Crankypants can’t even find all that many bad things to say about Bill Sinkford. But there’s still no reason not to ask some uncomfortable questions. (Mr. Crankypants just loves uncomfortable questions.)

Looking back on the first term of Bill Sinkford’s presidency of our tiny little association of religious liberals, what really stands out is the lack of money. Sinkford has spent most of his time trying to deal with massive budget cuts — it’s amazing he’s gotten anything else done. Now Mr. Crankypants has heard people explain away this lack of money by saying, Oh the UUA’s investment income dropped precipitously during the stock market crash of the early 00’s. Not true, replies Mr. Crankypants. What really happened was that we became addicted to easy money from from the UUA’s investment portfolio. That gave everybody (this means you) an excuse to give less money to the UUA — as if Unitarian Universalists needed another excuse, because with the exception of Caroline Veatch, Unitarian Universalists are just about the biggest cheapskates Mr. Crankpants has ever seen, who never give much money to support liberal religion in the best of times.

Mr. Crankypants could tolerate the fact that Unitarian Universalists are such big cheapskates except for one thing — they also love to whine and complain about the UUA. Ordinarily Mr. Crankypants does not object to whining and complaining. Cynically, however, Mr. Crankypants thinks that Unitarian Universalists deliberately starve the UUA for money just so they can then complain about how ineffectual the UUA is. That’s just not sporting.

Back to the hard questions to ask during our own leadership transition. Hard question number one: How do you plan to participate in the democratic process of Bill Sinkford’s re-election? What’s that you say? You don’t even know how that election works? Oh dear — you better check this Web site — http://www.uua.org/ga/delegate.html — and get back to Mr. Crankypants for further harrangue, or rather further discussion, after you’ve read it.

Great evening

If you missed the canvass dinner yesterday, you missed a good time. Desserts were provided by Elba K. and William E. Needless to say, William’s strawberry rhubard pie was extraordinary, but I must admit I don’t even know what Elba baked because it was all gone before I saw any of it. Susan C. put together the entertainment, and Tracey M. (or was his name Erskine?) was the Master of Ceremonies. We got to hear excellent music by many of the usual suspects — Ruth C., Wendy E-G., Cynthia S., Kristin M. with her dad Tracey, Michael M., Lynn F. M., and of course Susan herself.

All the music was wonderful — this congregation has so many talented musicians — but I have to give a special mention to Caran W.’s non-musical contribution to the entertainment. Caran took her beloved Norton Anthology of Literature on a field trip to Chicago. She took photographs of various people with her Norton in some rather unexpected places, photographs which she shared with us in the form of a delightfully strange Power Point presentation. My favorite was the photo of the Norton with geese — turns out geese are not impressed when you try to read Faulkner to them.

One of the best parts of this canvass dinner is that we’re already most of the way to the goal. Instead of asking us for money, canvass chairs Jim and Diane E. were able to celebrate the generosity of this congregation.

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

They say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But my partner (who is unchurched) says she thinks you can judge a church by the food they serve.

Judged by that criterion, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva is one of the great UU churches. This year’s Canvass Tea ended about an hour ago. Forty or more people gathered in the Common Room to enjoy absolutely fabulous food prepared by Elba K., William E., and their cadre of fantastic cooks.

Among my favorites were the tiny open-faced cucumber sandwiches, although the turkey salad sandwiches were equally delicate and tasty. I should also mention the chalice cookies, with a touch of frosting for the flame. The cream puffs were rumored to be amazing. The birthday cake (it happened to be the birthday of Elanor L. and Ellen M.) was incredible. A wide array of cheeses. There were so many choices, I didn’t even get to try everything.

(I also have to mention William’s rhubarb pie. He brought it for social hour last night, but there were a few slices left over this morning. This was a poem of a rhubarb pie. Lou P. and I were exchanging ecstatic comments as we ate two of the last slices.)

Needless to say, we had good conversation along with the good food at the Canvass Tea. I sat at a table with some young people, a few middle-aged folks like me, and a couple of elders, and we talked about everything under the sun. Churches are one of the few places where people of all ages can sit together, share a meal, and just talk — it’s one of the main reasons I go to church.

Good food. Good conversation. What more could you ask for?