Michelle RichardsMany of our congregations exist within a culture of scarcity. They believe that they are unable to afford funding programs or new ideas because they are financially poor. They believe that they never had enough money and they never will. This culture of scarcity holds these congregations back from hiring additional staff, buying updated equipment or accomplishing many of the goals they would like to see happen – if only they had more money.

However, according to Wayne Clark, the UUA Director of Congregational Stewardship Services and author of the recently published Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship, this idea of our congregations "being poor" is only a myth. In fact, it is one of the most common myths that congregations believe in and act upon when it comes to fundraising. Clark says "the reality is that there is enough money – the question is, can you make a compelling enough case which will encourage people to give accordingly?"

In his book which has recently gone into its second printing, and in the workshop he will present here in our district in October, Clark stresses that raising money is only one part of the much larger concept of stewardship. Clark will present a new stewardship development program; Forward Through the Ages (FORTH). The program is currently being field-tested with seven UU congregations in a three-year demonstration project. The project is designed to discover best practices so that they can be shared with other congregations. Clark will welcome feedback from the workshop participants.

If congregations begin to focus upon their mission and what they hope to accomplish, and leaders are able to communicate what those expectations are, then people are much more willing to give money to fund that mission. Clark says that "through taking a step back and realizing what we are all about – determining who we are and where we are going – then a congregation’s leaders can present their congregants with how having more money will help their ministry."

For more ideas and some specific resources on how you can move your congregation toward a reality of abundance and away from the myth of scarcity, consider sending a team of people from your congregation to the day long stewardship workshop which will be held on Saturday, October 20th at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. Cost is $120 for a team of three persons and each workshop participant is encouraged to come with a copy of the Clark’s book which is available from the UUA Bookstore.  For a flyer and registration form, click here.