Board of Trustees: Building a Culture of Stewardship

With FUUSN and my kids’ school and sports years in full swing, my sense of gratitude extends wide. One target of my thankfulness is a group of your fellow congregants who held a full-day meeting on Saturday, October 15, to discuss and better our FUUSN financial future.

This Financial Summit included representatives from all the groups involved in finance at FUUSN: Board of Trustees, Operations Council, Finance Committee (FC), Treasurer, Financial Oversight Committee (FOC), Board of Investments (BOI), Annual Budget Drive Team (ABD), Planned Giving Committee, leaders from past Capital Campaigns, and a few more folks willing to commit a day to the topic.

The first goal was for each group to describe its mission and way of working with other groups. We learned that the FC builds a budget with the FOC, with input from the BOI and ABD, to be approved by the BOT … got it! Participants came away with a deeper knowledge of the scale, scope and hard work it takes to run our financial operations, and undoubtedly greater empathy for those who devote enormous time to our financial health.

Our second, more challenging goal, was to discuss how to build a more sustainable financial foundation for our congregation. Teams shared their concerns and observations on issues of both long-term importance and immediate concern. Our central concern was last year’s budget drive, which, as you know, came in below expectations despite herculean effort by the Annual Budget Drive team.

One over-arching theme emerged from our discussions. Today, FUUSN devotes far more volunteer resources to tracking and spending funds than we do on collecting funds. Most of the groups at the meeting are involved in developing and monitoring our yearly budget. In contrast, we delegate the work of raising our funds to a team of two or three people who, it is fair to say, often feel lonely in the fund-raising process. We can and must do better for the long-term health of our society.

The question I pose for all of us is, can we build a culture of stewardship, where the whole congregation feels ownership of and takes a direct role in our annual fund-raising, lessening the burden on our ABD team?

Can we have a standing Stewardship team that studies giving patterns and trends, and that guides us in building this culture of stewardship all year long? Please share your thoughts with me and my fellow board members as we chart our course forward. Thank you. -Brian Burba