|Hello Members and Friends of BUUF,|
I am writing with a final update regarding our 2019-20 budget (with a generous assist from our Treasurer Tom von Alten), including new developments since my August Monthly Newsletter message. In so doing, I hope to answer questions that I and other Board Members have received over the past couple of months as well as foster transparency around what can be a fraught topic. I will start by explaining the budget that the congregation approved at our Annual Meeting, then provide details on the pledge shortfall, and finish with an update on where the budget stands now.
Budget Approved at the Annual Meeting
The budget process began in the late winter with conversations among Rev. Sara, her staff, Tom von Alten, the Finance Committee, and other lay leaders. In late spring, the Board approved a budget for presentation to the congregation. Tom and the Finance Committee then presented that budget at the Annual Meeting, and the congregation voted to approve it. The financial presentation and other information from our May 2019 annual meeting are available on our website, with a link to the budget at the bottom.
The approved budget called for operating expenditures of $387,562, funded by pledge contributions (estimated at $325,000, while the Annual Giving Drive was still in process), other donations, fundraising, the Bridge Event Center, the UUA grant to help fund our ministerial intern, and other sources. When all was said and done, we were left with operating expenditures exceeding estimated revenue by $9,296. To balance the budget, the Board and the congregation approved transferring that amount from reserves.
By early June, it had become clear that pledges were coming in lower than anticipated, at an estimated $310,000 rather than $325,000. Pledge amounts from individual households remained consistent from prior years and in many cases increased slightly, but the overall number of pledges dropped by about 30 households. Everyone sprang into action: Rev. Sara sent out a targeted letter to members and friends who had not yet pledged, Harriet Shaklee (then our Board President) sent out a general appeal for supplemental pledges, and Linden Boice, chair of the Finance Committee, spent many hours personally contacting members and friends.
At the same time, Rev. Sara, Director of Administration Rachel Strong, Tom, and Linden took a hard look at the budget and proposed possible expense reductions. At our June meeting, the Board reviewed those recommendations but decided to wait until more pledge numbers came in before amending the budget. The Board did, however, vote to affirm the budget line total for staff compensation with the 2% cost of living increase, so that staff pay could continue uninterrupted as approved at the Annual Meeting. The minutes from our June 2019 Board meeting are available on our website also.
Where the Budget Stands Today
Thanks to everyone’s hard work, and the generosity of many who stepped up to pledge or increase their pledges, we currently have pledges of just over $316,000. This represents an approximately $9,000 revenue shortfall compared to the budget passed at the Annual Meeting (which already anticipated transferring $9,296 from reserves), resulting in a total shortfall of approximately $18,000.
In response, the Board voted to move approximately $5,000 from the Hansen fund to the operating budget for the general expenses of our ministerial intern, a move that we believe honors the purpose of Chuck Hansen’s gift.
In addition, the Board asked Rev. Sara, Tom, and Linden to review the budget and propose expense reductions. They then proposed, and the Board approved, expense reductions of just under $12,000, distributed across many different expense categories. This reduced our overall deficit to a few thousand dollars less than what the congregation approved at the Annual Meeting. Though it was not easy to make these cuts, the Board determined that, given our current and anticipated future revenue, it would be financially prudent to reset our budget to a more fiscally conservative number. A copy of the final FY 2020 operating budget, as amended at the August Board meeting is on our website.
I hope this has helped to clear up any confusion about the budget that may have arisen over the past few months. I encourage anyone with additional questions to reach out to me, Tom, or any other Board Member, or to join us at Board meetings, which are on the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 pm in the BUUF library.
Let me end with heartfelt thanks to all who have pledged or otherwise contributed to BUUF’s mission through service over the past year. So many of you show up for this community with deep commitment and generosity. We greatly appreciate your support.
Rachel Murphy, President
As always, be in touch with your BUUF board members about your ideas and concerns for BUUF:
Visit our webpage or send one of the officers an email!
President – Rachel Murphy
Vice President – Scott Smith
Treasurer – Tom von Alten
Secretary – Elaine Daly
Past President – Harriet Shaklee
Directors – Elizabeth Pirie, Cathy Sherman, Sandy Cruise, Sue Stadler