Little Rock IV

     The acrobat knew she must do something or she would lose her balance.  She must conquer the wire to save herself.  She looked up at the objective, the far platform.  She took a step forward;  suddenly she was confident she would reach the platform.

     There are a number of programs, ongoing in nature, which will and, indeed are intended, to affect our equilibrium as we trace our steps across the wire of our institutional life.  I have commented on all of them in prior years in my written or oral reports, so I will not go into any detail, but you should have each of them in mind as you assess the financial balance of our Association.

     The new hymnal project involves a major investment in our future and a major financial commitment.  We don’t know that all the funding we are counting on will actually become available.  We are taking a risk but it is a risk we need to take in order responsibly to service the needs of our constituent congregations.

     A step forward on the wire for the UUA is our new field services program.  It is an experiment in rearranging the balance of our relationship as an Association with the dynamic parts of our constituency -- our member societies and the 23 district organizations.  With joint implementation by the districts and the UUA staff, it looks as if it is going to come together in terms of the people and the money.  As a well-known metaphysical theorist would say, however, it’s not over until it is over.

     The amount of resources to be committed by the districts to the cost of this program, has not yet reached the level it must -- and until it does, the UUA will need to carry a financial burden it cannot carry for long.  We have earmarked 25% of the proceeds of Visions For Growth for the field services.  In the budget for the coming year (1987-1988) field services and directly related costs run about $750,000 -- or almost 13% of our budget.  The financial plan for the department says this must be the peak year in terms of UUA budget dollar commitment.  It looks good so far -- we need to prove it is as good as it looks.

     The fiscal year now ending saw the beginning of a fully staffed Planned Giving Office.  In some ways it is hard to believe we are just getting to this -- other charitable and nonprofit institutions have found this a strong source of support.  The function is simply that of providing stimulation to and assistance for those who are able to plan to give to the UUA, either during their life times or in their wills, making use of various legal and tax saving methods.  A program such as this takes a lot of lead-in work and a certain amount of time for commitments to mature.  We decided this endeavor was important enough to make a capital investment in funding the office for the initial years.  We have confidence that it will be successful;  it will, over time return the capital investment and be self-funding;  it will be an institution builder.

     Another area in which we are trying to keep our balance, and at the same time, move forward is the Beacon Press.  We are in the midst of a Five Year Plan, designed to increase the output of new titles and make the Press more self-sufficient.  This requires a commitment of working capital, largely from Visions for Growth.

     Visions for Growth, the last of the balancing exercises of financial equilibrium about which I want to comment is coming to a close with less than 10% of its goal remaining to be raised.  This has certainly strengthened us and paved the way for future efforts to secure capital gifts for our Association.

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