As the Urantia community grows, assuming it will, there are many functions that need to be performed to provide for the needs of the community. Some needs are met with minimal overhead but there are many variable costs where we must wisely direct our resources. Considering The Urantia Book Fellowship is dependent upon donations from its members and supporters, there are limited funds to meet these needs.
The big question being asked is, How do we raise those funds? The Chairperson of the Finance Committee (Executive Committee representative of the General Council)is responsible, to my knowledge, for this function. I personally have little knowledge of how this process takes place beyond that.
So how do other organizations raise money? Simply put, they raise awareness about projects they see as being of high importance. We’ve all received a call from NPR asking us to support public radio, or had a nice young woman stop us on the street asking us to help some organization save the oceans. These groups use these methods to reach individuals who may feel as passionately about their cause as they do. Why hasn’t the Urantia community used these approaches? Not sure.
This conversation cannot be had without being honest about were we find ourselves demographically. The truth is there are very few young people involved in the greater Urantia community. We could surmise that this is only because we are a small group to start. I would argue, though, that in the late ’60s and ’70s many thousands of younger readers found the revelation and got involved. The Fellowship’s International Conference in 1996 (Flagstaff, Arizona) had over 1,000 attendees. IC’99 (Vancouver, B.C.) had nearly a thousand attendees. So why have our number begun to shrink? Less than 500 hundred people attended IC’11. Many reasons presumably, including the economy and aging Boomers, but I believe the most important is that we have not been very successful, as a organization, in meeting the needs of the individuals and families that comprise our community. The leaders were focused on studying the book and not always on the spiritual progress of the individuals studying the book, and in turn people fell away or went somewhere else to have their needs for community met.
So are we screwed? No we are not. Though we might have missed some opportunities and made some mistakes, the angels of course have been working with us to foster the next generation of Jesusonians. The Youth & Young Adult Committee is the fruit of some of those efforts. We now have an active, funded, group of youthful talented students of the revelation dedicated to this community and its needs. And this brings us back to my big question: How do we fund raise to support this highly active and incredibly important work, and all the other important functions of a growing family of Kingdom believers? If The Fellowship does not have the funding to sustain the growth happening, is it time to kick start the engine and see if the community is ready and willing to help out?
To just put it out there I think the best thing we could do as a organization is to spend every dollar we have. Then we would be forced to enroll possible supporters in financially backing our work for this Revelation. Having a pile of money for a “rainy day” is a farce. True we must have finances to continue to provide the services we now have but just think about the things we are not doing. For one we are not training, and supporting, young leaders to be ambassadors of this revelation. We know this is important from the teachings. Melchizedek did it, Jesus did it, and we were going to do it through the original constitution, but in 2012–almost 60 years later–the $1500 requested to start this program next year was denied.
To solve these problems we must work together. The Fellowship and its committees have outgrown the available fundraising to support them. We must creatively readjust ourselves for the 21st century of growth that is happening now! I just received an email from the Urantia Foundation asking to help them raise $16o,000 for translations! Holy crap. That’s on top of the $160,000 in matching funds they already have. So they are raising 300,000 dollars to operate the Foundation and do translations. That’s amazing! Do we not have other dreams just as big to do the Father’s business? If Jesus came back tomorrow, would he be satisfied with us using roughly $20,000 to support young people finding the living truth while spending 15 times that to make the 16th or 17th translation? I sense an imbalanced vision regarding the real work of the kingdom. This is not to say one is right and the other is wrong. Just to recognize the difference in financial focus.
However we go about bringing these teachings to the world, we are called to do it with a high level of enthusiasm and faith. These teachings will some day rule this entire world. We are, at this very moment, part of the some-day history of planting the seed of divine truth into the dry dirt of troubled Urantia. We will never remember the career we had or the fear we felt. We will never remember the disappointment we encountered or the loss we experienced. What we will remember is the transformation we created. Because, as the revelation reveals, the only thing we take with us when we go is our relationships and our spiritual achievements. So facing the reality–that these teachings call us to challenge everything we know as real and enter upon the high seas of adversity by working tirelessly to bring the good news to all men–is the first step.
Do I know how we should fund raise for the future? Not entirely, but I do know there are lots of great ideas out there and many amazing tools we can utilize. Let’s give them a try. Let’s build awareness in our community and the world about what we’re up to. Let’s live dynamic, passionate lives that inspire those around us so much that they can’t resist finding out how we became this way.
You, who are reading this, are my family in this adventure. Together we must build this future. When we work together our efforts are greatly multiplied.
Below is an embedded copy of our Youth & Young Adult Committee’s 2013 Budget Outline. Many of these projects were not able to be fully funded and some not funded at all. If you are inspired to see one of these items more fully supported please contact our Chair Tony Finstad or The Urantia Book Fellowship. Thank you for making this work we do possible!