show me the money!

1 Jun

money-tree-images-Image-Money-Tree-IllustrationMoney. In particular, managing it. Like many congregations, this is something with which the congregation I serve struggles. We utilize a large regional bank for our multiple savings and checking accounts, a different service to manage our endowment, a payroll service for staff paychecks, etc.

When we needed to make some necessary repairs on our paid-off building, no local bank or credit union would give us a loan unless our board members ponied up their homes as collateral – we chose to borrow from our endowment instead, but how many congregations have the capability to do that?

And we try to keep track of it all with a complex church database that this former database programmer finds unwieldy and virtually incomprehensible.

Wouldn’t it be great if some organization with similar values could step up and provide our congregations with these types of resources, all in one place?

UUALogoThe UUA has the Common Endowment fund (which I love and wish my congregation would move it’s money into). I can also imagine the UUA creating a credit union that could perform many of these other functions, too! It could provide checking and savings accounts for congregations, as well as mortgages. We could even set up an unified account with a payroll service.

The UUA could also support one centralized church database software program which congregations would be given access to. Due to the large number of users, we would get premium support when our congregations had issues or needed training in how to use the program. Plus, this would provide a more accurate number of unique members of our congregations because it would not count Jane Doe as 4 different people, even though she is a member of 4 different UU congregations (those of you in urban areas where people hop from church to church know what I mean!).

We are stronger together, and centralization has its perks. We have seen this with the Common Endowment, and with the UUA Health Plan. Why not expand the resources that the UUA provides to our congregations? Of course, due to our polity, no congregation would be required to use any of these resources, but I bet many would!

2 Responses to “show me the money!”

  1. Tom Schade June 1, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Great ideas. I had not thought of the “Common Endowment” as another example of a centralized service/business provided by the UUA to congregations.

  2. David Leppik June 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    Good ideas, though given how bizarre the UUA’s comp/benefits guidelines are, I’m not sure I’d trust them to be experts in database administration. And “large numbers of users” doesn’t get you premium support, “large amounts of money per user who needs support” does.

    That said, centralization makes a lot of sense—even large congregations are far too small to have experts in managing church databases. At a minimum, the UUA should offer help to congregations in choosing software or managed services. (We’re hardly the only denomination to have these issues, so there is software geared toward church membership management.)

    (As an aside, I find the WordPress ads for “10 hottest daughters of pro athletes” and “21 jaw-dropping celebrity fails” distracting.)

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