At our Spring Membership Meeting last Sunday, Leader Curt Collier provided an overview of the State of our Society. He cited our robust programming in the last year, including regular programs and classes—such as Conversemos, Open Mic Variety Night, etc.—and projects such as the Great New Jersey Science Show, Church-State Speaker Series, and Summer Youth Employment Program, to name a few.
Programming attracts visitors, grant income
He thanked members who ran programs and projects, and showed charts estimating the number of visitors and the ticket-sales income this programming has generated. In all, our programming and projects for the last year represent about 2,000 hours of volunteer time and roughly $50,000 in income, including the Skills Auction and grant funds, he said.
Interest is high among members and friends
Curt noted that readership of our Focus newsletter among members and non-members is high, averaging more than 250 readers weekly, and that our Facebook page views have increased significantly in the last year.
We will rely less on donations
Curt presented a revised 2023 budget, showing income and expense lines that have been adjusted since the budget was adopted last fall. If expenses are not met, he said, the Society will have to use part of its reserve cash on hand. Few organizations can survive solely on donations, he said. “Economic sustainability models suggest we should be relying on donations for only 9 percent of our income,” Curt said. Currently, donations account for 57 percent of the Society’s income.
‘America is changing’
“The old model that you could create a congregation that could exist on donations is no longer possible,” Curt said, citing demographic trends showing fewer and fewer Americans joining congregations in recent decades. “It’s not that we aren’t trying or doing the right things—America is changing,” Curt said. Therefore, the Society will have more programs that are funded with non-donation income, including grant funds and ticket sales, and will continue to improve the attractiveness and usefulness of the meetinghouse to increase income from shared-use fees, an income category that is exceeding projections this year.
Curt’s vision calls for focusing on youth programming, creativity and the arts, wellness and community-building, varied experiences on Sundays at the meetinghouse, and ethical biocentrism.
President endorses new directions
After Curt’s State of the Society remarks, incoming Board of Trustees President Eric Sandhusen endorsed the call for innovation and creativity in our operations and programming.
“I’ve been a member for 17 years,” he said, “and have never seen so much energy and excitement as we have right now…. We have a great new leader with fantastic ideas, experience, and skills; we have a fantastic Board of Trustees, and we have new people and new energy joining our Board and committees.”
Also at the Membership Meeting, the Society elected new officers and committee chairs. See list.