• Finance and Stewardship

    “A house in order…”

The Rector, Vestry, Treasurer, Investment Committee, and Stewardship Committee have worked diligently to:

  • create financial systems that track sources of gifts and uses of spending,
  • communicate clearly the full cost of funding our ministries and programs to the parish,
  • provide regular updates on the budget and be transparent in how monies are spent,
  • adopt prudent fiscal policies that reflect our desire for growth while remaining fairly conservative in our investments, and
  • appoint an annual audit committee to review our accounts to reflect the leadership’s desire for fiscal transparency.

Our vision of stewardship is grounded in the belief that everything we have is a gift from a generous and abundant God. The spiritual practice of stewardship empowers us to share in building God’s dream of love and justice in our hearts and world through our gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Stewardship brings many blessings, among them deep satisfaction that we have faithfully responded as best we can to God’s call, and gratitude that we are able to support one another in fulfilling our various ministries. At our Stewardship dinner in 2015, we celebrated our blessings and shared with humor, our history.

Trends in our annual operating budget

The chart below indicates our income and expenses over our most recent five year period.

The Vestry is committed to preparing balanced operating budgets and communicating to the parish what is needed to fully finance our mission and ministries. Increasing the size of Trinity’s operating budget remains an important goal, as many of the church’s aspirations cannot be realized without increasing both our income and our endowments to support growth in programs, services and expenses.

Like most parishes, Trinity’s sources of income are fairly straightforward:  pledges, loose plate, festival (special events), gifts from organizations, legacy and special gifts from current or former parishioners and interest income from various funds.  The Vestry has also begun to explore additional sources of revenue such as hosting more weddings and receptions and renting out our kitchen for commercial use.

Like most parishes, salary expenses represent our single largest expenditure. Although plant maintenance represents only 15% of our operating budget, a recently completed capital campaign (discussed later in this section) provided significant funding for our capital and maintenance needs.

The leadership at Trinity is especially proud of our commitment to justice and outreach. For many years, we have traditionally disbursed 5-10% of our income to support social justice organizations. This year, we are allocating over $30,000 to our Justice Fund, which will focus on the Jubilee Justice theme of Economic Justice.

Pledges for 2018

Trinity enjoys a broad base of support for its annual operating budget.  Our most recent Stewardship Campaign was quite successful. As of December 31, 2017, we had received nearly $635,000 in pledges, an increase of more than $37,000 over the previous year. We continue to encourage pledging and receive pledges and, as in the recent past, expect our pledge income to increase throughout the year.

How stewardship is organized

The Stewardship Committee is appointed annually by the Vestry. Chaired by a parishioner, who is usually a member of the vestry, the committee consists of several parishioners, and is staffed by the Rector and Associate Rector.  The rector has traditionally played a very active role in managing the stewardship effort, recruiting new members, setting goals, identifying additional volunteers, and spiritual practice. The role of the vestry in stewardship involves:

  • setting the annual budget,
  • approving the strategy and theme selected by the Stewardship Committee for the annual fundraising effort,
  • serving as volunteers in the annual effort,
  • setting an example by making a personal pledge each year in advance of the stewardship season,
  • making follow-up contact with previous pledgers and
  • thanking everyone who makes a pledge.

Over the past several years, the stewardship effort has involved personal canvass: meeting with each pledging family/individual to share stories of their own giving journey, asking about the parishioner’s connection to Trinity, explaining the financial and programmatic goals for the year, and framing stewardship as a spiritual practice. This approach to the annual stewardship effort has resulted in:

  • further bonding members to each other,
  • increasing parishioners’ understanding of the total costs to fund the church’s ministries and the need for increased pledge income,
  • slightly increasing pledge income from prior years, and
  • helping parishioners to develop the language to talk about why they are called to give and how this practice supports their spiritual growth.

Capital campaign

With the intention of maintaining our historic building and restoring its beauty, the “Looking Beyond Ourselves” capital and endowment campaign, which ran from 2008 to 2014, deepened our commitment to providing a welcoming place of worship for generations to come. This approximately $2.15 million for capital purposes. Another $300,000 was raised through our Trinity Legacy Circle planned giving program to establish a facilities endowment fund called Looking Beyond Ourselves.

Because our historic building stands as a physical representation of God’s love and provides a home base for our many shared ministries working toward an eco-friendly world, our capital projects made use of low-impact, green building materials, high efficiency lighting, and sustainable landscaping.

Some noteworthy capital projects included installing a new roof; gutting, enlarging and replacing the kitchen; replacing our plumbing; installing new heating, lighting, and sound systems; reconfiguring classrooms and installing new floors in the church school building; upgrading our electrical systems; replacing and re-leading windows; improving storage space in the sacristy; and complying with ADA requirements with the addition of new elevators. While many of these improvements are not as visible or “showy” as other capital expenditures, they speak to the parish’s willingness to fund what’s necessary for the long-term future of the church, not just what’s most visible.

The final phase of our Capital Campaign, landscaping, has just been completed in order to make the exterior of our church as inviting and welcoming as our church and its members. And to demonstrate our commitment even further, our parishioners donated an additional $65,000 in order to complete this project and fund the first year of landscape maintenance.

Endowment and reserves

For the period ending December 31, 2017, Trinity had approximately $300,000 in our Reserve Fund and $1.1 million in the Brackenbury Fund, both of which can be expended at the discretion of the Vestry. We had approximately $610,000 between our four restricted funds: Looking Beyond Ourselves ($400,000) to be used for the maintenance of our church properties; the Webb Fund ($70,000) to be used at the discretion of the Rector or the Vestry in support of disabled and senior parishioners and others in need; the Mark Asman Progressive Theology Fund ($50,000) which was established to honor our former rector and dedicated to funding appropriate speakers and events; and “Other Specific Funds” ($90,000), a collection of some twenty small funds which support specific ministries (such as the Altar Guild) and projects (such as the Chapel Restoration Project).

Trinity utilizes a professional investment management company, Mission Wealth, for our endowment and reserves and works with a lay-led investment committee that reports to the vestry on the status of our endowment and reserves. Unlike many Episcopal parishes, our business manager, who is a part-time employee, is not a part of our investment committee nor has the rector been intimately involved in its work.

Our endowments are invested in a wide range of asset classes designed to reduce risk and provide moderate returns. A tangible expression of living into our values, the investment committee, with support of the vestry, adopted a socially responsible investment policy for our endowment funds in 2015.

Our near-term future

While challenges remain on how to grow our operating budget, Trinity is on solid financial footing. We have laid important groundwork for our next rector to build on our past successes, and are deeply committed to this continuing journey as we explore new and deeper pathways toward being faithful stewards of God’s abundance.

Trinity parishioners wish to partner with our new rector to:

  • review our endowment policies,
  • analyze our investment performance,
  • consider alternative structures for managing our finances,
  • determine how and articulate why we are called to grow our operating budget,
  • decide on the focus and form of our 2018-19 stewardship effort.

We look to our financial future and the leadership of our next rector with faith and confidence.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
© Copyright - Trinity Episcopal Church Santa Barbara