How Planned is that “Planned Replacement Program for Facilities” of Yours?

If your congregation is like many others, when asked about the plans to replace facilities (equipment and structures) that will eventually wear out, the response is “What plan?”

Some do have such a plan, although its often more of a wish list or at best a guess list. But some do have good planning in place.

This has been a topic of interest in recent days on the UU MONEY email list service (if you are not subscribed to this excellent discussion group, you should be). It is easy to sign up. The link is at .
Go towards the end of the list, find UU-MONEY and click on the title, which will take you to the sign in page. You will be glad you did.

Now, about planned replacements: Everything wears out, as we all know. This gives us two options as a congregation.

Option 1: Make a sound estimate of when major components and systems among your facilities are likely to fail, estimate how much money needs to be set aside annually or monthly from the creation of the list until planned replacement (a bit before projected required replacement dates, and voila, you have the core of a plan. Even if the correct amounts are not always set aside, you at least have a reasonable expectation of when the truth will come calling and require you to pay up. Having a plan takes out much of the unwanted mystery and surprise, and enables the congregation to replace on their schedule, after shopping for the best deals.

Option 2: Hope for the best, do not plan or set aside, replace facilities on a crisis basis (and price) when the time comes, act surprised.

Which Option sounds best to you? I rather lean toward Option 1.

Putting together a plan starts with a good inventory of your property’s physical assets, entering when they went into service and based on reasonable projections of wear, project a date to replace, giving yourself a little margin in doing so. There are many resources online and from contractors or vendors in your area to help estimate material replacement timelines. Put all this information into a spread sheet and update it periodically, including a projected inflation rate and interest on the accrued funds.

There are a number of good example spreadsheets among UU congregations. I have one that I often share with congregations I support as a member of Stewardship for Us. Given the recent interest in this on the UU-MONEY list service, we are glad to share it. Simply click on the link for an Excel spreadsheet model that can be modified as desired. Find the sample form at:

Now, isn’t that a better way to start the New Year?

Bill Clontz is a stewardship consultant with the Stewardship for Us Team, supporting the UUA. Bill can be reached at, via UUA Congregational Life, (, or via regional staff.

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