First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Financial Updates: ASK Before Spending

In the past two months, I have had two different people approach me asking me to chip in for an expense that they have already paid for out of pocket.  This bothers me greatly, for a number of different reasons:

In both situations, the person did not first ASK Rev. Nate or Norman if there was any money in the budget, but just went ahead and paid out of their own pockets.  Even if there isn’t a budgeted line item, there are some restricted donations that might be available.  Step 1 for any church related expense is to ASK what funds are available prior to any spending.

If people don’t report expenses, how are we supposed to know that we need to budget this item in the future, or how much to budget?  At bare minimum, notify Norman Fouhy in the church office to let him know that you had to pay for an item and to consider adding it to next year’s budget.

If someone chooses to pay out of their own pocket, that is their choice, not mine.  If they are not comfortable footing the bill, then they should not pay for it.  Neither the church nor I asked the person to put themselves in an uncomfortable financial situation.  Since I did not participate in the decision to pay for the expense, please do not come asking me to help pay for it after the fact.

I will admit that there are times when there is no money in the budget and people will need to come together to fund an expense.  Please consider ASKing people for money before making the expense.  This allows others the opportunity to participate in the decision making process and decide for themselves if they feel this is a worthwhile item to fund.

As a Board member, I get asked to contribute miscellaneous money more often than when I wasn’t on the Board.  Perhaps there are additional expectations of Board members, however I would like to argue that Board members are just members of the congregation who have voluntarily stepped into a temporary leadership position—positions that we all take turns sharing.  I would like to think that anyone who is interested could participate on the Board, regardless of how deep or shallow their pockets are.  We don’t want to scare away potential Board members for fear that there are additional financial expectations.

What I think is a more significant expectation of our Board members is to ASK them to make a pledge.  While every member must make an identifiable contribution every year, it is not a requirement to pledge.  During the Annual Budget Drive each Spring, we ASK people to pledge an amount of financial significance (however small or large).  Pledging allows the church to know how much money it can expect to receive in the coming year so that we can craft a realistic, safe budget.  So while pledging is not a requirement, it is critical to the church’s ability to be financially responsible.  I think ASKing Board members to pledge is a realistic additional expectation that shows that they are financially committed to this organization.

Thank you,

Eva Baker

Board Treasurer

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