In a short piece for the TWIST of 11/21/2018 I highlighted the challenges of achieving the targets the Vestry had proposed for the 2020 Budget and requested consideration on the part of all parishioners to increase their pledge for the upcoming year. I wanted to take this opportunity in Tidings to expand on the matter a bit more, believing that more communication is better. For those not familiar with my background, I retired in 2015 having spent more than 40 years in Healthcare Administration, many of those years working with financially distressed not-for-profit institutions. So, tough financial times for an organization is not a unique scenario for me. I have also faced a similar situation in the last parish Bonnie and I belonged to in Rochester, MI. My advice from the outset is that there is no easy answer or one shot solution.
However, here are the facts:
Presently, St. Tim’s endowments are designed to spin off about $30,000 a year towards operating expenses. The 2019 Operating Budget is $370,161. From a revenue stand point; $30,000 is from Endowment Income (8%), $39,715 is from Extraordinary Endowment Draw (11%) and $293,246 is supposed to be pledge income (79%). The remaining 2% of revenue will come from the other sources. So clearly, 19% of our current “living” is done based on legacy “giving”. The reason for setting such a high pledge goal for 2020 was to try to break that habit.
When we asked the Treasurer to develop a budget based on $330,000 of pledges (a 13% increase from 2019), with all known and requested spending increases we received an operating budget estimated at $384,864. While that is only 4% more than 2019 (meaning not all requested increases in funding were accepted), it considered a 13% increase in pledges and a 63% decrease in extraordinary draws. You see, we weren’t going totally “cold turkey” with no extraordinary draw, but we were trying to return the Endowment Fund to its original purpose, use of the proceeds to fund some “extra stuff”.
Now the really tough news, pledges received to date and estimates of outstanding pledges (and other giving mechanisms counted as pledges) stand at $264,000 (roughly). Not only is that far short of the $330,000 stretch goal, it is well below 2019 anticipated pledges. So, with ostensibly one month left to finalize the budget, the Vestry will build a budget based on the hope we can identify $290,000 in pledge income, plug the hole with another extraordinary draw, then work like heck with all hands on board to identify funding sources that will mitigate the amount of the total extraordinary draw. Admittedly a lot of unknowns in that plan, but it is where we are starting.
We understand the challenges we face. At this point in the year we have celebrated 16 funerals and no baptisms. While we have added new members, we have seen others leave for work and other reasons. Overall, St. Tim’s continues to struggle with achieving the growth our programs target. The purpose of this article is not to crash everyone’s Advent preparations but rather intensify them. My spiritual motivation for the TWIST article was the Parable of the Bridesmaids. I think it fitting to close this article with the Epistle for the 1st Sunday of Advent:
You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.