In recent discussions with my S4Us colleagues, and with our client organizations, there are new questions based on our current political upheaval:
- These are uncertain times; won’t people guard their resources and cut back on their charitable giving?
- Won’t people favor organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, so we will lose support?
- How can we make appeals for our mission, when there are so many concerning things happening “out there”?
This time is troubling and confusing at deep and concrete levels. Just as when we were in the financial crisis almost a decade ago that led to the Great Recession, we have an opportunity to clarify and focus on our unique missions. Here are some examples you might consider, particularly if you are launching your Annual Budget (pledge) Drive soon. Our congregations provide:
- A caring community to find solace, grounding in our values, a broader perspective, and hope for the future – for our members and the seekers who have joined us in the last four months. This warmth and human connection is difficult to find anywhere else.
- Sanctuary for people who are traditionally vulnerable, those who are in fear of being defined again into a vulnerable category after it looked like their status was protected, and the newly vulnerable. This includes many categories and demographics that you can name.
- A fellowship for action and a location for organizing. With what is happening at the highest levels of government, it is clear that grassroots work is needed.
- Sustenance for justice workers. Our congregations are full of workers in the mental health and medical professions, social workers, justice based legal jobs, advocacy, teachers, government workers, and nonprofit professionals and volunteers. In these times, that work is more draining and stressful than ever; we provide a place for them to rest and be fed by a supportive community.
- Awareness-raising and education on key issues, in a time when many sources of information are in question.
The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and others are badly needed right now; we hope they will get as much support as they need to deploy their missions fully. Yet they cannot do what our congregations can do in caring for our people and mobilizing externally, in offering literal sanctuary. In order for our congregations to do the important work we are called to do, to hold our piece of the puzzle of a broader beloved community, we need vibrant and enriched mission budgets. We hope you will consider this in your own pledging this year and will help your congregations to do the same. If you need help with it, let us know.
Mark Ewert is a stewardship consultant with the Stewardship For Us team. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, via the UUA’s Congregational Stewardship Network, (http://www.uua.org/finance/fundraising/index.shtml), or through your regional staff.