With the introduction of Proportional Giving (PG), what happens with Association dues?
Though no Conference Membership dues will be billed by the new Conference, Associations remain free to bill for Association dues. In Massachusetts, Associations will return UCM opt-in churches to their dues billing rolls. However, all Associations may want to consider moving away from Membership dues and using a version of PG as their model for Association funding. The methodology and spreadsheets used to calculate giving percentages and PG contributions could easily be converted for use by the Association. Conference staff are prepared to assist them with this transition if desired.
Why isn’t Association funding from churches included in the Proportional Giving model?
The determination not to include Association funding in the SNEUCCC giving model was made for a variety of reasons. This approach was strongly considered because it was a feature of United Church Mission (UCM), the Massachusetts Conference’s opt-in funding model. With UCM, Associations removed opt-in churches from their dues billing rolls and, instead, received UCM “in lieu” dues payments from the Conference when UCM contributions were received from their Association churches.
However, four years of UCM demonstrated that the inclusion of Association funding in a PG model was problematic. Among the downsides of including Association funding in PG are:
- An unavoidable but very complicated calculation for each Association to determine its share of PG contributions that, in practice, is difficult for the Conference to manage. The prospect of moving from doing this for 10 Massachusetts Associations (with UCM in effect) to 25 Southern New England Associations (for PG) seemed impractical.
- Less than full confidence from some Associations that their fair share of UCM contributions was making it to them, despite best efforts on the Conference’s part. Even if the Conference always got things right, this would be an understandable feeling given that there would be a complicated calculation and this form of funding would be at a remove from the Association.
- Unhelpful complication of the relationship between Associations and the Conference. This would always be true if and when there is a difference about how PG is being implemented and, specifically, whether the Association was getting its proper share of local church giving.
- A delay in Association receipt of its share of PG funding from local churches. PG sharing with Associations can only happen sometime after the Conference receives funds from churches. This will often mean that giving made by local churches toward year’s end wouldn’t be sent to Associations until the beginning of the following year, thereby creating a cascade of accounting, budgeting, and income challenges for Associations.
- Skepticism within some Associations about whether PG as a funding approach was best for the Association rather than remaining with dues collection.
- Organizations are usually best served when they are in control of their own fundraising, making their own case for the importance of their mission to their donors, and managing their own relationships with those who fund them. This perspective is in keeping with the 2017 Synod resolution regarding the change in the UCC’s Pattern of Giving, the foundation of which is the belief that the various settings of the Church will do best when they can relate more directly to those who fund them. We believe that this fundraising principle applies equally to Associations.
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