It's budget time; we're taking on a DRE and a Music Director, along with all the normal "creeping costs" that help a budget to grow each year. We're also building a new building--and naturally--the first solid estimate came in way over all the carefully researched, conservative estimations that the project was approved on.
Another call for more money, piled on another.
To those involved in trying to make these things happen--the budgets that the congregation votes for, the building they approve--it feels like milking stones. They want it, but they don't want to pay for it.
Which is, of course, very human. Free would be nice, whatever it is. Of course, we don't really appreciate things that are free the same way that we appreciate and care for things that we really have invested in (money, or blood, sweat and tears. Or both). But we'd still like it free.
We shuffle figures. We find creative ways to spread the cost, to make clear how much we're getting for how very little. It's a shade embarrassing, somehow, in the midst of this, to look at some data from nearly three years ago. The large (but incomplete) fraction of the congregation that returned our survey indicating their income ranges; about 75% of households reported. Had only those folks donated 3% of their incomes then, we'd have exceeded our pledge target for this year by nearly 5%. But we've grown, and there's reason to think that the average and median incomes have risen....
I'm not sure where to go with this. I'm not interested in brow-beating anyone. But for all that "this" seems to mean to people, what they're willing to donate seems... well... painfully tight.
How much of this is the mindset of "no taxes" that the political culture's been aiming for? The idea that if we just cut the fat.... There's no fat. None. Amazing things are being done with absurd budgets. With $50 in the budget for Social Justice, we somehow raise and donate... oh, perhaps 20% of the actual operating budget to Heifer, to tsunami relief, to Gulf Coast relief, to flood relief in Transylvania, to supporting and assisting a New Orleans refugee family in resettling and transitioning out of poverty, as well as at least a dozen local charities.
But scraping up a few thousand dollars to pay for the music that's become so vibrant, that so many appreciate every Sunday (at least), that's hard?
What's it take to get people to pay to get what they really want?