With a donation that leaders are hoping will prompt an unprecedented level of legacy gifts from Unitarian Universalists, the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, in Manhasset, New York, has made a $5 million gift to the Legacy Challenge, part of a collaborative fundraising campaign among a group of five UU institutions.
“With this gift, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock is calling us to consider our legacy, to plant for the future, to ‘Wake to a Vision’ of our shared future in faith,” said the Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, director of Stewardship and Development at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), who announced the gift in June at the annual meeting of UU ministers held prior to General Assembly 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.
The Rev. Don Southworth, executive director of the UU Ministers Association, said that “special gratitude goes to Shelter Rock for their generous gift, which will propel, I think, the greatest legacy giving in the history of our faith.”
Three years ago, the UUA announced a collaborative campaign along with four partner organizations: the UU Service Committee, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the Starr King School for the Ministry, and the Meadville Lombard Theological School. They worked together to create the “Wake Now Our Vision Campaign,” of which the Legacy Challenge is one aspect. The Legacy Challenge will “create a conversation among Unitarian Universalists about the future of our faith, about legacy, and about planned giving” that will benefit individual ministries and the larger faith, said Morn.
With the generosity of the Shelter Rock gift, the UUA will be able to provide information and create resources including webinars and conference calls for ministers, congregational leaders, congregations, and individuals who want to participate in the Challenge, Morn said. The UUA will offer training, resources, and tools to ministers so they can lead and inspire gifts from congregants to the campaign. Some planned gifts will be eligible for a cash match of up to $10,000. Morn said details will be announced later. The UUA is in the process of hiring a coordinator for the campaign, and it will be piloting the program this year with a few congregations before launching it before next GA, she said.
Two years ago, the UU Ministers Association started its first endowment campaign from zero and has already raised about $750,000 almost exclusively from UU ministers, Morn said. At the ministers’ meeting, she encouraged all 1,800 UUMA members to make a legacy gift as “a tangible thank you to the ministry and faith we have loved.”
An earlier version of this article misidentified the organization that started its first endowment campaign two years ago. It is the UUMA, not the UUA.