“There is a great difference between wealth which leads to covetousness and selfishness and that which is held and dispensed in the spirit of stewardship by those who have an abundance of this world’s goods, and who so bountifully contribute to the support of those who devote all their energies to the work of the kingdom.” 165:4.5
We are emerging into a new era in the Urantia movement. Our community, along with the world, is growing fast, changing and adapting to the rapid increase in communication via the internet, the settling of the dust from the “divorce” and the emergence of new young leadership.
Something I’ve noticed working inside Urantia organizations in the movement is an unreasonably deathly slow desire to upgrade the way we organize information, share resources, raise money, and accomplish common goals.
I’ve been a long time critic of, as I see it, the lack of enthusiasm for growing and revolutionizing our movement. To me the way seems so clear after reading the Jesus papers. We have the 5th Epochal Revelation, we have a good foundation of resources and secondary works, and as never before, the time is right to focus all our efforts in two areas, evangelism and community building. In my opinion our lack of a clear vision and defined goals is what is stopping us from operating in “high gear”.
Our Youth committee has been an invaluable asset in helping me work towards my personal goals in a group setting. Together we support each other in our common goals of growing community and provide a space for religious self expression and spiritual unity. This success is due to our commitment to meet every week for almost two hours, communicating through email, and attending regular conferences where we grow our friendships and commitment to our cause. As a team we are running a website, putting on two yearly events, and constantly engaging our community in numerous ways. This level of engagement keeps us invested in each other’s lives which grows our friendships.
Fundraising is at the heart of our efforts for a few reasons. Our committee was blessed with a large budget its first years as a standing committee in The Urantia Book Fellowship. With these resources we have made a incredible impact on the youth movement and brought new life into the Fellowship. But since our first year we have seen our budget drop about 25% each year. This would be understandable if our efforts were not bearing fruit, but they are. At our first conference in Boulder we had 6 registrants and our last conference we had 30+. The funding is working to grow the youth community.
This issue of reduced funding is due to an attempt to “balance” the budget and in no way feels like an attack on the work we are doing. What I do feel though is that it shows a very serious disconnect between the “leadership” and the Youth. YOUTH ARE WHAT MAKE AN ORGANIZATION ATTRACTIVE. PERIOD. So as our youth movement grows and gains more valuable talent everyday, how is it we can’t find the resources to support these efforts to see even more continued growth? You might ask ” If the Fellowship doesn’t have the money in their account can’t we go find it to support this growth? Well, actually no.
Once we receive our yearly budget we are not allowed to raise funding to support activities inside our committee even if they have been unfunded in our regular budget. An example this year is our Family Life program. Though we now have an active group working very hard on creating resources for family life we are just about cutting all of its funding. So to be clear the Urantia Book Fellowship is saying it has no money to support young families. Or at least they are not willing to allocate funds towards this.
So the first thing that comes to my mind is “well lets raise funds for this line item then”. If we can inspire people as to its importance then we should be able to find funding for it. And here lies the problem. We, meaning members of the YaYA committee, can not raise funding for a specific project through Urantianow or any of our other committee assets. As well, even if someone wrote us a check for $5000 dollars just for family life it could not go to family life. It would have to go into the General Fund and sit for a year before the executive committee of 16 people hashed out if they even wanted to put it into Family Life. This is not effective at all.
Basically the Fellowship does not have mechanisms set up to allow for ear marking, even if it is completely transparent. So after our budget is decided we are stuck in some respects. A clear example is Urantianow. As it continues to grow as a valuable resource to the community and by far one of the most active Urantia Book website in the world, it needs to have more resources to be fully developed. But because it is supported by the Fellowship we are not allowed to raise any money for its development past what ever budget we get handed down.
So what to do? Well I would love your opinions and ideas. Inside our group we feel that this issue is of the most importance. The bottom line is people with money want to support whatever it is they’re passionate about. That more times then not is going to be the youth or outreach or publications etc.
The fear (yes fear) is that if we allow earmarking then people who would normally just donate to the Fellowship will only donate to “sexy” committees or projects and we won’t have money to keep the lights on (meaning Paula and our other valuable part time employees). My solution for this is that we take an agreed upon percentage out of earmarked donations and put them towards operating costs.
Other ideas include just raising money through our committee and Urantianow, giving it all to the Fellowship and then hoping they will give it back to us in next years budget. As well many people have talked about creating other organizations to raise money outside of the Fellowship and to some degree this is already happening. This of course breaks up the group into pockets of individuals with differing goals instead of all working together to help support each other and pool resources and talent.
Some have said “why do the youth need our support?” “we didn’t have support like this when we were young”. “Exactly”, is what I say to those opinions. There has never been continued support to bring the youth into our movement AND KEEP THEM THERE so look where we find ourselves. A sleeping, disconnected community. You don’t believe me? Doesn’t matter. I’ve heard that come out of hundreds of older readers mouths and I’ve traveled most of the country and visited almost all our societies and seen it for myself.
How do we think Churches attract large numbers of youth? By providing for their needs. And in turn these young people get experience and training a grow into adults who actively support and participate in the movement. Without their needs being meet they go somewhere else as SO MANY Urantians have. Taking their families and resources to find and build community somewhere else. It is going to take an investment in the youth for decades to make up for the lack of support for 50 years. And what you will start to notice is a highly active, loving, goal driven culture start to emerge. Without support sadly you will see more of the same.
Lets talk about what is possible for a minute. If you don’t allow your mind to live in a world of “possibility” you will have a hard time seeing what I see. WE HAVE THE COMPLETE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST…. Lets think about this… We live in a Chrisitan nation full of Truthseekers who don’t know it but are looking for what we have. I read book after book about Chrisitan youth leaders trying to find a “new path” of what it means to be Chrisitan in the 21st century. How can we help show them the new path the Revelation has provided? We are not there because we have not united behind the possibility that in one life we could transform the world by introducing followers of Christ to the Revelation of Jesus’ life in the Urantia Book.
To me this is what’s possible. It takes being clear in our community what our mission is. Maybe that’s not everyone’s mission who reads the UB but it sure as hell is mine. And we need to consider that we must grow our efforts exponentially if we really desire to accomplish the wishes of our Master. We need more servants of truth, better networks, and more finances to fund their efforts. Strong leadership and clear goals will accomplish this.
One of the first hurdles in my eyes is how to fundraise. Being on a committee of the Urantia Book Fellowship I still have little understanding of how we fundraise or if we have evaluated it recently for its effectiveness. What I do know is that all the Fellowships outreach committee budgets have been decreasing over the last two years. I understand this to be due to “balancing” our budget into a place of not spending too much more then we bring in. What I don’t understand and refuse to ignore any longer is why we are having zero conversation about how to change this!!
In the last two years I have personally brought up this issue with posts like “Fundraising for the Future” and others. As well we have sent letters to leadership about helping with fundraising with literally no response. So again this year we found out our committee budget was pre-determined for us with no ideas or suggestion of how to make up for this loss in funding. All this in the face of very real and visible progress in the “youth” involvement in the community.
When I asked for coaching about how to bring up this topic again I was told to “not point fingers” and be “general” in my method. I write these articles because it is what I’m being lead to address by my indwelling spirit. True I can be frank and upfront but I do it from a place of love with a real desire to help bring change and progress to the culture of the Urantia community because it so badly needs it.
So what do I want? I want to be able to raise funds for specific projects, through the Urantia Book Fellowship, to help support the progress of any project we see as invaluable to Christs mission on Urantia.
What do you think we should do?
From the book: 148:8.5 “The new Jerusalem convert, Abraham the Pharisee, gave all of his worldly goods to the apostolic treasury, and this contribution did much to make possible the immediate sending forth of the one hundred newly trained evangelists.”