In the Spring of 2007, the Social Justice Committee was asked by the UUC Vestry to develop a structure for their charitable giving initiative. The suggested structure was presented to the Vestry in April 2007. The Vestry approved the structure and tools: the request for proposal guidance, sub-committee review form based on the guidance and the ranking form. The sub-committee decided that there would be two projects per church year. The committee feels strongly that rather than having quarterly projects, which was initially suggested, awarding two projects between $4,000-$5,000 would be more fair and beneficial to the organizations serving people in need. The request for proposal requires time and attention to detail. Currently, donations are collected for 12 Sundays in the Fall and the Spring. We are looking at how we can reduce that time frame. It was also decided that the money would be collected in envelopes during the Sunday collection so people would have a choice to contribute or not to contribute.
Initially, there were many concerns regarding this project. The primary concern was that Sunday collections for church operations would be reduced. After the first project in the Fall of 2007, collection amounts for operations were back up to the normal range. This was reported by the UUC Finance Committee. Another concern voiced in February 2010, was the aggressive request for donations. This was toned down considerable by having the weekly reminder during the charitable giving campaign announced by the Vestry member each Sunday during announcements.
After Vestry discussion and revisions made by the sub-committee, the following model was implemented by the Social Justice Community Outreach Giving Sub-Committee beginning in the Fall of 2007. Members of the committee were: Jeffrey Fleming, Kay Haun, Laura Morris, Myrtle Staples and Diane Narkunas, Chair.
I. Opportunities for input from the congregation
Nominations of organizations serving people in need will be accepted year round. The nomination forms are available on the UUC website under Social Justice. In April and May the committee urges members and friends to nominate an organization for consideration as a charitable giving project in the next church year.
The sub-committee meets in early June to review nominations. About 90% of nominated groups are invited to submit a mini-grant. Reny mails out a letter of invitation in June with clearly defined request for proposal guidelines. The organizations are given two months to submit their proposal.
II. Systematic and transparent review, ranking and selection of organizations to be awarded
Standardized tools were developed for mini-grant submission guidance, review of proposals, and ranking.
The mini-grants are due mid August. The sub-committee meets the end of August to review mini-grants and select projects. The numeric score of sub-committee member for each proposal are added together with other committee members to get the mean score. When scores are tied or the group is not well known, site visits by members of the committee are made to organizations before selection is made.
Sub-committee members cannot nominate an organization or vote on nominated organization with which they have a fiduciary relationship.
III. Educating the church community on selected community outreach giving projects.
The Fall Giving Project traditionally begins the second or third Sunday of the beginning of the church year in September. The Spring Giving Project has traditionally begun the first Sunday in February. This year at the request of the Pledge Drive leaders, the giving began the first Sunday in March. We would like to continue this approach so we are not competing for donations.
The selected charitable giving projects are profiled in the Gateway and listed on the UUC website under Social Justice. During the giving campaign, a brief summary of the project is included in the Order of Service, which includes the giving update.
A forum presented by the selected organization is scheduled during the first two-three weeks of the giving project. Also, the first Sunday of the campaign, the selected group is given 5-7 minutes to provide an overview of the project in the Sanctuary after announcements.
A very important component is the weekly mention of the project by the Vestry member making announcements. If this weekly reminder does not happen, giving goes way down.
Once or twice during the campaign, Danny provides a reminder about the giving project. This results in a considerable increase in giving.