Monday, September 8, 2014

UBA Receipts Exceed Budget ... well, not really

A pastor commented to me the other day, "I'm so excited to see that gifts to UBA are exceeding the budget. That's really good news." It is, and I wouldn't want anyone to think otherwise. But the there's more to the story than the numbers you see. 

Each year UBA approves a budget for the coming year. The budget reflects the ministry we desire to have and the resources we believe we need. Since giving to UBA fluctuates so much from month to month and sometimes year to year, we develop a second budget--a more conservative budget--that we operate on until we see how giving will go. Since the recession a few years ago, we've never made our approved budget. Some years we struggled to make our conservative budget. So we started using the conservative (not the approved) budget when we made our reports.

 What does that mean? It means receipts this year exceed our conservative budget (the one we have been reporting). However, receipts fall short of our approved budget. That means we are getting by, but we are not getting ahead! There is so much we need to do that we've not been able to do. For example:
  • we need to expand our research services. Churches need to know about the city, where the people are, where growth is expected. There is more demand for this service than we currently have capacity to meet. 
  •  we need to increase our support for church planting. Many years ago the association had resources to help new churches buy land, support ministries, and assist in other ways in starting new churches. Through the years these resources have diminished to the point that we rely on the state conventions to fund new church starts. We believe we are in the best position to help with new church starts, but we need additional resources to do that. 
  • we need to expand our leadership development capacity. One of UBA's strongest ministries for many years has been leadership development. While this has continued, it has diminished in size and scope. We are using technology better and providing church leaders with needed resources through our presence on the web, but nothing can replace the personal touch. For that, we need more staff and that will require additional resources. 
  • we need to take care of our existing staff. Though we alloted a raise for staff in our approved budget, the conservative budget did not allow for that. If we don't take care of our staff, they may be forced to look elsewhere to serve. We have a great staff and want to take care of them. For that, we need your help. (Just so you'll know ... the staff agreed not to receive raises until we knew the receipts would be there to cover it. Our plan is to give them the approved raise as a "bonus" in December if resources permit. I mention this so you'll know the level of commitment the staff brings to serving you. They're putting you first, then themselves.) 

 So what's the bottom line? Because our resources have exceeded our "conservative" budget, we are optimistic that we'll be able to do more for you. Thank you for that! But there is so much more we want to do to serve you. As you develop your budget for next year, I hope you will not look at the UBA budget and say "they're ahead in their budget, so we can cut them." I hope you'll say, "they're doing so much to serve our churches let's help them do more."

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