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UUA cuts staff, reorganizes departments to balance budget

Equivalent of 13 full-time positions eliminated; Congregational Services to be reorganized.
By Jane Greer
3.23.09

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UUA President William G. Sinkford announced March 13 that the Unitarian Universalist Association has prepared a balanced budget for fiscal year 2010 despite a drop in projected revenue of $2 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget. Cost-cutting measures in the new budget include the reorganization of the Congregational Services staff group, the elimination of several staff positions, reduced travel budgets, and electronic delivery of several UUA publications.

Sinkford made the announcement at a packed all-staff meeting held at UUA headquarters in Boston. Off-site staff attended the meeting via conference call or Persony, a teleconference program.

Sinkford said details of the proposed budget, which will be formally presented to the Board of Trustees in April, would be shared promptly with trustees and both candidates running for the UUA presidency. Sinkford’s second and final term as president ends in June.

Sinkford said that the Congregational Services staff group would be undergoing a major restructuring in FY10. The Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, director of Congregational Services, announced by email on March 11 that she had resigned and would be leaving the UUA at the end of June.

Some of Congregational Services’ current functions will be assigned to other staff groups, Sinkford said. The Young Adult and Campus Ministry Group, which had been part of Congregational Services, will be moving to the Lifespan Faith Development staff group, a plan that had been announced last year. Other restructuring changes for Congregational Services should be in place by July 1.

Tim Brennan, the UUA’s treasurer and vice president of finance, said that for FY2010 the UUA is projecting a 10.1 percent drop in unrestricted income from the 2009 budget, or $1.5 million. He explained that the UUA’s unrestricted income comes from three main sources: the Annual Program Fund, or per-member contributions from congregations; Friends of the UUA, which solicits unrestricted individual contributions and gifts; and distributions from the UUA’s endowment.

FY10 projections for the Annual Program Fund declined from $7.1 million in the FY09 budget to $6.6 million, while Friends of the UUA declined from $1.65 million to $1.1 million. Projected distributions from the endowment, which is calculated based on a rolling average over 13 quarters, is down from $2.2 million to just under $2 million.

Other sources of revenue are also down: Projected income from UUA Bookstore sales, for example, is down by about 10 percent, Brennan said.

The total UUA budget, which also includes programs funded by restricted income, is down from $26.7 million to $22.7 million. Major gifts to the comprehensive campaigns showed the greatest decline, Brennan said. The income from these campaigns is targeted to special projects and does not directly affect core services.

The good news for the majority of UUA employees is that salaries will not be cut and the benefits package will remain untouched.

Almost all of the staff reductions were voluntary, Sinkford said. Vacancies in several departments will remain unfilled, and other employees who have announced their departure will not be replaced.

Sinkford praised staff for their efforts in reducing expenditures in FY09 and FY10. These include reducing the number of meetings with off-site personnel and increasing the number of conference calls and teleconferences; reducing the number of staff attending the General Assembly; and producing electronic rather than printed versions of the annual UUA Directory, the quarterly InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders, and the Religious Leader, the triennial newsletter for church professionals.

The UUA had also planned to conduct three $300,000 regional marketing campaigns. One campaign was downsized and two were postponed. The UUA will be participating in ongoing conversations with UUs in the three target regions as well as others about future marketing partnerships, according to the Rev. Terry Sweetser, vice president of stewardship and development.

Sinkford told the staff that the budget cuts “did far less damage to the structure and programs than I feared.” He thanked them for submitting suggestions for ways to reduce spending, and said many of the suggestions had been adopted.


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