Are We There Yet? 

With all the focus needed to deal with the church’s deficit, I’ve gotten two questions more often than any others:

How did we get into this situation? How did that deficit happen?


Have we fixed the problems? Are we there yet?

Board President Neil Manzullo addressed that first question in an open letter two weeks ago. It is linked here, in case you missed it.

My hope today is to tell you about our success in addressing the financial challenge. Our success is real and to be celebrated.

But also, to let you know that we are not “there” yet and what you can expect in the New Year and the next.

The deficit last year was just about $400,000. The good news is that congregants – we – have pledged and given $394,000 as of last week. By the New Year, I am almost confident that we will actually reach our $400,000 goal.

Hooray! I do not believe that the Board, when they meet in two weeks, will need to dramatically cut our spending. We have raised enough money to deal with that most immediate problem.

But that does not mean that we have fixed the All Souls’ finances. Because that deficit is structural…it will repeat next year and the next…as long as we keep our current staff in our current historic building, run our current programs and don’t increase our income…every year.

Just under $200,000 of the $400,000 we raised was in one-time and matching gifts that will not repeat. Those gifts gave us critical breathing room, but they don’t help the long-term problem.

But just over $200,000 of the $400,000 were increased, new and returning pledges. Those do help long term. And that is very good news.

As we look toward the spring and the annual Generosity Campaign – yes, there will be a spring campaign — we will need to ask for increases in pledging, but not primarily from those of us who stepped up this fall. There are about 450 individuals and families that pledge support to All Souls. Less than 150 families were able to help in the fall Funding Our Future effort.

The work of the spring will center on asking and encouraging more of us to give more generously. When I talk about a “culture of generosity” I mean moving toward the time when the support for the church is more broadly shared and when more of us understand support for the church to be a spiritual practice that we welcome. It will take some time, but that is the right goal for a church called “All Souls.”

The All Souls budget is complicated. There is investment income and rental income (likely to go up as we regather), fundraisers, grants and programmatic income. This year we will make our best estimates of all of those sources of income, include the spending we know we need to do and determine what level of pledge income we will need to support it. And we will do that in January.

When we launch the Generosity Campaign on February 12 (earlier than usual), we will be able to tell you exactly how much more income we need.

And when the campaign is over (On Easter, April 9), we will know whether we need to revise our spending plans. And we will know before the budget goes to the Board or the Congregation late in May. This new plan is one important way that we will avoid the kind of deficit surprise we are working our way out of.

Thank you for reading through this long message! We talk a lot about transparency. Part of my goal is to increase the number of folks who understand what it takes to make the meaningful ministry of All Souls ‘happen.”

“Are we there yet?” No. But we are well started on the path to financial sustainability. With a plan to take our next steps…together…toward the hopeful future that our faith and our commitment insist can be ours.


Rev. Bill

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Connie Row

    Great letter. Hope in future ones you talk about broadening fundraising beyond pledging to a full development effort.

  2. Dianne Lang Brown

    Wonderful news about the 150 who stepped up to help erase the deficit. I hope my fellow Zoomers and friends/non-members have considered a donation to help and will make it happen, too, that we meet the goal to erase the deficit. We all benefit from knowing this financial information – thank you, Rev. Sinkford and staff!

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