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Budget Report, General Assembly 2014

General Assembly 2014 Event 302

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This report is part of a longer event. Go to General Session III for the complete video and order of business.


MODERATOR:We need to hear from the Reverend Sarah Stewart, trusty of our association, and chair of our finance committee. There she is.

REV. SARAH STEWART: This is the budget report from your UUA board of trustees. Budgets may seem dry, but when I look at a budget I see a plan for love put into action. In the UUA's budget, I see a plan for enacting our mission through national, regional, and district programs, and support of congregations and communities.

If you have questions about the details of the budget, please come to the budget hearing today after this general session at 10:15 in room 551. I will be there, along with financial advisor Larry Ladd, treasurer and chief financial officer Tim Brennan, and other members of the finance committee to answer any questions you may have.

I want to talk to you about two things this morning; generosity from congregations, and a deficit the UUA is facing in the current year's budget. This has implications for next year's budget, and I'm going to start with this budget information. In April the board approved a budget presented to us by President Morales, which set out a plan for achieving our ends in the coming fiscal year.

Unfortunately, last week the administration and the board learned that the UUA way will not receive some hoped for large individual gifts within the current year. Although other revenue streams remain strong, we are projected to end this year with a $1.35 million deficit, which represents about 5.6% of the operating budget. These losses require the UUA to revise its financial planning for next year.

President Morales will bring to the board a revised budget for fiscal year 2015 by August 1. In accordance with our policies, the administration will show how that budget materially supports the ends, and represents fiscal prudence and integrity. As always, the board will carefully consider that budget on your behalf, and approve it when we are confident that it supports achievement of our ends.

Now I have faith that we will be able to do that, because the connection between the budget and the ends has been made very clear to us this year. While your board still debates and discusses the meaning of the ends among ourselves and with the administration, we have been very pleased to see the connection between the budget and achievement of the ends in the budget for fiscal year 15. This clear connection, as well as progress toward measurable implementation of the ends and collection of metrics, has been supported by the administration's work with a governance consultant, funded through the current year's budget.

In addition to a revised budget, the board has requested from President Morales an action plan to address any systemic problems that led to this surprising budget shortfall. Peter has taken responsibility to the board for the communication challenges that allowed him and us to be surprised with such a large shortfall in the final weeks of the fiscal year. We will hear from Peter in the coming months about the ways in which he will mitigate the risks in the UUA's financial planning process.

The board has its own fundamental responsibility for the financial health of the UUA. Another word for a trustee is fiduciary. We trustees are those people who ensure that the UUA uses its funds wisely, and will continue to have money to accomplish its mission for decades and centuries to come.

To fulfill that fiduciary responsibility, we will be looking at our financial planning policies to ensure that they are adequate to the risks we face in our fundraising environment. And we will be asking for a deep dive into the revenue assumptions for the 2016 budget at our upcoming January meeting. We will ensure that the budget we approve and present to you for 2016 is one which we can stand by and meet.

One piece of next year's operating budget that we do not expect to change, is a one time expense of $750,000 to complete the move to the UUA's new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street. These costs will be funded out of the proceeds of the sale of our Beacon Hill properties, which otherwise would have gone into the endowment. Over time these costs will be recouped as the UUA takes on full ownership of the building at 24 Farnsworth Street, and completes the sale of its Beacon Hill properties.

Individual donors are important to the UUA, even as the landscape of individual charitable giving remains volatile after the recession. We are grateful to every person who gives to the UUA. Even more fundamental to the work and being of the Unitarian Universalist Association is the generosity of your congregations through the Annual Program Fund, and the Generously Investing for Tomorrow GIFT program.

Congregational giving provides fully 50% of the UUA's unrestricted operating income each year. It forms the single largest source of the UUA's annual operating income. I want to thank every congregation that gives to the UUA. I especially want to lift up the more than 700 fair share congregations, and the many congregations that are working to become fair share.


Our congregations' generosity through the Annual Program Fund or the GIFT program makes possible work that in turn supports our congregations and communities. Our giving strengthens Unitarian Universalism's voice at a regional and national level. It makes possible work that no one congregation could do alone.

The next time you get an email from staff at your district or regional office; or find religious education curricula online; or get help with a staff transition from the UUA; or feel proud of the work of racial justice and multicultural ministry at the UUA; remember that you are enabling all of this through your congregation's generous giving.

Love reaches out as the UUA staff achieves the global end of moving our communities and the world toward more love, justice, and peace. Love reaches out through the careful planning and accountability that goes into the UUA's budgeting process. Through individual generosity, the invested gifts of Unitarians and Universalists past, and your congregation's giving, you make it possible to enact more love, and reach out to all who need the saving message of Unitarian Universalism. Thank you.