Treasurer Challenges Directors to Tell Mission Giving Story
We are living in a new economic reality, Women's Division treasurer Martha Knight told directors at the semi-annual board meeting at the Church Center for the United Nations, April 9. Yet, "In the midst of economic challenge unseen in recent times, once again, United Methodist Women members have come through, giving with their hearts to support mission both nationally and around the world," she said.
Mission Giving income
Mission Giving was below the 2008 levels by $1.27 million or 7.67 percent, Ms. Knight reported, from $16.5 million in 2008. Designated giving was down $44,000, 3.4 percent, to $1.27 million in 2009 from $1.3 million in 2008. Bequests, Gifts and Contributions increased by $310,000 or 46 percent, to $980,000 in 2009 from $670,000 in 2008.
Total giving through 2009 equaled $15.3 million, Ms. Knight reported, adding, "we see in this fact the true impact of our economic time on the very lives, livelihoods and families of United Methodist Women members."
On a positive note, though 72 percent of United Methodist Women conferences gave less than in 2008, 46 percent exceeded their pledge in 2009, as high as 73 percent above their pledge. "These conferences truly answered the call to give more to off-set those who simply could not give more in 2009," Ms. Knight said.
Income from publications, rental and other revenues decreased by $893,000, totaling $5 million in 2009, down from $5.9 million in 2008, reflecting lower income from Alma Mathews House, lower publication revenue from the Mission Resource Center and reduced Response magazine subscriptions. Brooks Howell Home for retired missionaries and deaconesses in Asheville, N.C., increased $422,000 or 15.5 percent due to increased rates for residents effective June 2009, as well as a 3 percent increase in annual appropriations from the Women's Division. Other revenues decreased by $140,000 largely because of a decrease in Benefit Trust Distribution receipts.
Operating expenditures for the period ending Dec. 31, 2009 were slightly higher than 2008 by $138,000 or 0.5 percent, equaling $27.8 million in 2009 from $27.7 in 2008. Ms. Knight reported lower spending in mission programs, programs administered by the General Board of Global Ministries and administration. These categories were lower than 2008 by $1,060,000 or 6.1 percent, to $7.7 million in 2009 from $8 million in 2008, because of the Division's intentional cost cutting and savings in light of the economic downturn.
Pension and post-retirement costs for retired deaconesses and missionaries, increased by $962,000, to $1.4 million in 2009 from $1.2 million in 2008, due to actual pension expenses paid and the liability based on calculations of risk. On a positive note, the end of 2009 saw this Women's Division pension fund fully funded.
Property maintenance and insurance expenses increased by $154,000 or 12.9 percent, to $1.4 million in 2009 from $1.2 million in 2008, because of a higher number of grants approved for the upkeep of National Mission Institutions. The Division has increased efforts to maintain properties, while Institutions—hit by the recession—are less able to pay for the upkeep.
A challenge for directors
In her report, Ms. Knight challenged directors to use the global economic downturn as an opportunity to inspire mission giving back in their own conferences. "Are we going to let this be the great recession, or are we going to let this be the recession that makes us greater?" she asked.
While Ms. Knight acknowledged that these new economic times give the Women's Division more to do with less, she prescribed a solution: Make sure every United Methodist Women member in every unit and church knows where their mission giving goes.
She encouraged every director to pick five women, units or churches and share the Mission Giving story to as many people as possible, and check back with them to see how many people they told, and to thank them. "Mission Giving is so much bigger than one small concern—[its effects are] enormous, global. That should be our message," she said.
*Leigh Rogers is the public relations executive for the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.