Congregational Finance & Fundraising
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) provides many resources—web pages, publications, and people—that can help congregational leaders charged with fiscal oversight and management of the following issues.
Endowment assets need to be invested prudently, but in a way that will generate income for the congregation. The Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF) may be a good option for many congregations, but it is important to make sure that the objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon are consistent with those of the congregation. Learn more about the endowment resources the UUA offers.
Legacy Giving Program
Perhaps the best way to grow an endowment is to create a legacy giving program. At its most basic level, this means letting members of your congregation know that they can put the congregation in their wills. But there are other structured vehicles that allow people to make legacy gifts during their lifetimes. Along with the resources listed, Laura Randall, Legacy Gifts Manager (giftplans [at] uua [dot] org), would be a tremendous source of information.
Umbrella Giving Program
The UUA’s Stewardship and Development group is happy to work with congregations and donors to structure gifts that benefit more than one organization. Contact campaigndirector [at] uua [dot] org for more information.
Stewardship and Fundraising
The Congregational Stewardship Network offers consulting guidance with annual budget drives, strategic planning, capital campaigns, and planned giving. Contact Brent Lewis (blewis [at] uua [dot] org), for more information.
Annual Program Fund
The Annual Program Fund (APF) office has designed many stewardship resources to help promote an intergenerational culture of giving in your congregation, and to communicate the role of generosity in funding your community. In addition to the resources below, please feel welcome to contact the APF Director (apf [at] uua [dot] org), for more information.
The UUA offers a full complement of benefit programs for ministers and employees of our congregations and related organizations. These include: retirement, health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, and disability insurance. Rev. Richard Nugent heads the Office of Church Staff Finance (ocsf_director [at] uua [dot] org), which administers these programs.
- Unitarian Universalist (UU) Organizations Retirement Plan
Contact Linda Rose, Director of UUA Retirement and Group Insurance Plans (retirementplan [at] uua [dot] org), for more information.
- UUA Health Plan
Contact Jim Sargent, UUA Health Plan Director (hp_director [at] uua [dot] org), for more information.
- Group Insurance Plans
Contact Patti Angelina, Insurance Plans Manager (insurance_plans [at] uua [dot] org), for more information.
Often congregations get confused about their tax status under IRS rules. Every UUA congregation is a “church” under U.S. tax law, therefore tax exempt, charitable, and exempt from tax filing. There is no “blanket exemption” from the UUA, but the UUA will provide a letter saying a congregation is in good standing.This addresses most tax exemption issues. However, it still may be in the interest of a congregation to get it’s own classification letter from the IRS.
- IRS Pub. 1828: Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations (PDF, 32 pages)
- For a letter in good standing from the UUA, contact Stephanie Carey Maron, Executive Assistant for the Office of the President (administration [at] uua [dot] org).
The other tax-related questions that come up often relate to permissible behavior on political issues, elections, and lobbying. The UUA, in collaboration with our legal counsel, has prepared a guide laying out the boundaries for political speech and action.
Some general guidance on best practices in the financial management of congregations can be found here:
- UUA Financial Advisor's Page (Lucia Santini-Field)
Church Financial Management
- Audits and Financial Reviews (PDF, 5 pages), by James Wu
If you need more information, please don't hesitate to contact Tim Brennan (treasurer [at] uua [dot] org) or Susan Helbert, Assistant to the Treasurer (treasurerasst [at] uua [dot] org).
Subscribe to the UU-Money Email List, Discussion among UU congregational finance leaders.