Successful share-the-plate program supports Denver nonprofits

From one of our May feature stories, now available online at UUA.org:

When the offering plate comes around on Sunday morning at First Universalist Church of Denver, Colo., many nonprofit groups in the community feel the earth move just a little. This is the third year that the congregation has given its entire offering—every Sunday—to local groups or to support the work of the congregation’s own Social Justice Council task forces.

Associate Minister the Rev. Jeannie Shero said nearly $150,000 has been collected so far through the program, called Compassion in Action. “The first year we collected $44,000, then $56,000,” she said. “This year, which ends in June, will be close to $60,000. Prior to the program the offering would bring in around $25,000, much of which was largely used to support the operating budget.”

“This program represented a major shift for us,” Shero noted. “Was it a hard sell to the congregation? No. Did it make the board of trustees nervous? Yes. Giving up $20,000 for the operating budget was no small thing since the board has fiduciary responsibility.”

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Sponsoring congregation program aids small UU groups

From April’s InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

A fundraising campaign that began in 1993 at the First Unitarian Society of Wilmington, Del., now the First Unitarian Church, was supposed to be all about raising money for a new building project. But along the way the campaign came to be about more than just First Unitarian.

Karel Toll, chair of the fundraising campaign, explains what happened: “In one of our congregational meetings about the campaign a member of the congregation stood up and asked why our large church was raising all this money for bricks and mortar and why we were not sharing some of it with some new or small congregation that did not have our resources?”

It seemed like a reasonable question to Toll. He took it to the board of trustees and asked it to set aside one percent of the money that would be raised. The board agreed. As a result, at the end of the three-year campaign, which raised $1.5 million for a new religious education wing, there was a fund with $15,000.

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