Five Rules of Thumb for Your Budget Drive Experience

Dear FUUSN community,

This week, stewards are beginning to reach out to members of the congregation to encourage participation in the FUUSN Annual Budget Drive. If you have already made your financial pledge, the FUUSN community is deeply grateful for your support. If life, particularly life this year, has kept your attention prioritized elsewhere, this is totally understandable. Even in a normal year, the Budget Drive can be an emotional hot button for many of us. At its best, it can serve as a reminder of all that we hold dear about FUUSN, the collective power of being part of such a vital community, and the many ways in which FUUSN provides us with a deep sense of belonging and a strong sense of meaning and purpose. At its worst, it can activate all our ambivalent feelings about money, status, power, achievement, and self-worth. It can raise our underlying fears of scarcity, of not having or being enough, and remind us that financially we are not all equal and never will be.

So if you are contemplating pledging in the coming weeks, how can you avoid the car crash of hiding out, ignoring stewarding emails and phone calls, feeling obligated, pressured, anxious or inadequate? And if you have already pledged, how can you avoid feeling superior and insulated from the difficult financial choices that others may have to make in order to contribute meaningfully to funding FUUSN’s operations during the next fiscal year? Borrowing from a FUUSN newsletter column I wrote last year, I want to suggest five rules of thumb for successfully managing the remainder of our budget drive experience.

(1) Remember that you are not your financial pledge to FUUSN. Your worth to FUUSN is a product of all the ways you contribute to the well-being of FUUSN over the lifetime of your involvement with FUUSN, past, present, and future. Whether that lifetime is one year or 99 years, you matter to FUUSN because FUUSN matters to you.

(2) Recognize that whatever dollar amount you pledge to FUUSN, your financial support is crucial to the ability of FUUSN to deliver on its promises to you and to the rest of the community. We are all in this together—particularly this year. The more you can contribute, even if the difference is marginal, the more FUUSN can do to enhance your experience and the experiences of every other member of the community.

(3) Appreciate that financially funding our current operations is an investment in our future and your future. FUUSN is a living community replete with intangible value, social capital that can grow exponentially year by year. One dollar invested in our current operations can produce long-term social returns far in excess of that initial one dollar investment. That social capital will benefit not just you, but each and every other member of FUUSN.

(4) Imagine what your life would be like without your involvement with FUUSN. Like George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, reflect on the ways in which your life might be less meaningful, less connected, less supported, and more impoverished if FUUSN had never come into your life and you had never come into FUUSN’s.

(5) Consider approaching your pledge as an act of devotion. Reflect on to whom and to what you have been truly devoted in your life. My guess would be that at the core of those devotions has been loving relationship, unconditional commitment, faith in a worthwhile future, and sustained investment of your time and energy. Whether to a person, a cause, an ideal, or an institution, your devotion may have waxed and waned depending on the circumstances. But it is unlikely these four elements have been entirely absent. Approaching your pledge as an act of devotion can strengthen your loving bonds with your fellow FUUSNites, deepen your commitment to FUUSN, liberate you momentarily at least from the conditionality that we impose on so much of our relational life, and reinforce your faith in FUUSN’s future.

–Chris Krebs, Board of Trustees