Not for Ourselves Alone: Our Capital Campaign

As we enter our second century as a liberal religious community, we have a vital message and vision that is not for ourselves alone, but also for future members, those who come after us, and the world outside our walls. We have developed plans for facilities that will enable us to care for our aging sanctuary and build a larger, more connected, multigenerational community that can fulfill our mission’s promise to awaken spirit, nurture hope, and inspire action.

To this end, University Unitarian Church has launched a multi-million dollar capital campaign to renovate our existing Kirk sanctuary and expand our social, administrative, and program spaces. Charged in 2015 by the Stewardship Committee with assessing the current readiness and financial capacity of the congregation to support a campaign, the Capital Campaign Team (CCT) engaged Collins Group, a local non-profit fundraising consultant, to survey our congregation online and through in-person interviews. Approximately half of UUC households participated in the study, which indicated strong support for moving forward and financial capacity to support a campaign of $7.5-$15 million. Here is a summary of the study findings.

In 2016, the Physical Space and Capital Campaign teams continued to work to refine their approaches to the project, and to bring the building Master Plan into alignment with the congregation’s giving capacity.  Last fall, two UUC families agreed to match, up to $5 million each, every dollar raised by the congregation, and $15 million campaign was approved by the congregation at  January, 2017 meeting. At a Town Hall on September 17, 2017, the Physical Space Implementation Team reported that the Design Development phase returned a refined cost estimate of $17 million.  And, with overwhelming support, the congregation voted to approve this new capital campaign goal on October 8, 2017.

We have now raised $3.7 million in pledges from the congregation at large, including $400,000 in the last couple months weeks from early donors who increased their pledges in order to help us narrow our budget gap. In addition, a keystone donor has promised to provide the final $1 million required for our campaign, which, together with our earlier keystone commitments, brings our total now pledged to $14.7 million! Taking into account the revised cost estimate for our project, as well as our increased pledges from early donors, our congregational fundraising goal has increased from $5 million to $6 million, meaning we have $2.3 million yet to raise. We are confident that, having experienced this early success, our campaign will continue to gain momentum as the two-thirds of our membership who have yet to pledge make their commitments.  You can view the presentation made to the congregation at the September 17th Town Hall here view the presentation from that meeting here.

The Capital Campaign now continues into its second year, with the goal that all commitments be received by June 2018. Gifts can be payable over three to five years. Our goal is 100% participation, with all members and friends giving “stretch” gifts that are personally meaningful to them. If every member of our congregation gives five times his or her annual pledge, we will reach our goal. This would mean doubling for five years the financial commitment a member makes to the church, with half of that money continuing to go toward the operating drive, and half to the Capital Campaign. There are many creative ways to give and to make your gift go farther: please consider these ideas.

Some of you are asking, “When do I pledge to the building campaign?  How do I pledge?  How do I think about how much to give?” In the coming weeks we will describe various opportunities to participate in the campaign, including gatherings planned for January through March of next year that will answer just these questions about giving! We find that members are able to give most thoughtfully after they’ve had a conversation, either one on one or in a group, about what this church means to them.  So, if you are able, please wait for these opportunities.  If you want to get started right away, we suggest that you reach out to the Capital Campaign Team to discuss your intentions. You will find a pledge form here. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete our contact form below this message so that we can be in touch with you. We need members and friends who are willing to plan and host events and reach out to fellow congregants as visiting stewards.

Let us work together to build a church that is not for ourselves alone and makes our beloved principles manifest in our lives, in our community, and in the world!

Scott & Katie Renschler
Capital Campaign Team Co-Chairs