Synod learns about giving trends, impacts on ministry budgets, ‘experiments in fundraising’
At General Synod, when the business focused on finance and budgets, the talk turned once again to generating new sources of income to underwrite the work and mission of the United Church of Christ.
“Long-term trends in Our Church’s Wider Mission basic support have led us to anticipate that alternate revenue sources will be needed to fund the church’s mission in the future,” said Cameron Barr, vice chair of the UCC Board, which acts as the Synod’s budget committee.
Funds from OCWM generate the second-largest chunk of income in the national setting’s operating budget, at 21 percent in 2020, said Tami Marinella, the denomination’s new chief financial officer. And she noted that those basic support revenues have declined annually in recent years.
The largest block of income, at 37 percent, is funded from returns on investments, at a 4.75-percent draw.
Synod-goers attending a July 17 hearing on budget and finances heard about efforts to live into the new patterns of giving resolution passed at the 2019 Synod.
“The New Giving Resolution calls for movement from an obligational model of giving to a donor-centered approach,” said the Rev. Kent Siladi, the UCC’s director of philanthropy. Called in September 2020, Siladi is leading the national staff in creating three programs to connect with a donor base beyond OCWM basic support.
The Still Speaking Partners Initiative is one of them. Launched on June 25, the anniversary of the UCC, this “experiment in fundraising” invites authorized ministers to make a recurring gift, to “deepen their partnership with their Conference and the national setting.”
The minimum contribution is $20 a month — $240 annually – that will be split 50/50 between the national setting and the Conference in which the donor has standing.
Annual Fund emphasis fruitful
“This is just part of the response to the resolution,” Siladi said. “Another part of that involves the intention of inviting donors to participate, to share their resources for the good of the mission.”
That’s what the philanthropy team did with the Annual Fund in 2020, and as Marinella reported, giving increased.
“We concentrated over the last year on the Annual Fund and we have seen fairly dramatic increases in support,” Siladi said. “We are also ahead of last year’s numbers for the six-month period of giving for the Annual Fund.”
He said a third initiative, which revolves around a more robust emphasis on planned giving, will launch in 2022. “A consulting firm, with an analysis of our donor base, has determined that 20 percent of those donors have the potential to make a planned bequest to their local congregation, their Conference and the national setting.” The UCC philanthropy team plans to cultivate connections with those donors.
C.L.”Curly” Stumb, editor of the UCC Southern Conference E-news, is a General Synod Newsroom volunteer.
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