Funding Funding! Where Art Thou Funding!?

13 Jul

Today’s blog post is a little bit different, in that I am going to actively solicit your feedback.  As I think our blog’s audience is largely campus ministers, I am asking your feedback on that topic that likely occupies more space in your thoughts and day-to-day work than you would like it to occupy:  how do we find the ongoing funding to keep our ministries viable?

Speaking from my own experience, starting in my eleventh year at United Campus Ministry at The University of Tulsa, I must admit that finding the funds to keep this ministry viable causes me more stress than any other part of my job.  When I began at UCM in 2002, at least 85% of our funding came from congregations and denominational sources, with 15% coming from individual donors.  Fast forward to 2012, and those percentages have changed dramatically.   In this year’s budget, 30% of our funding will come from congregations and denominational sources and 70% will come from individual donors.  At meetings over the past decade with other campus ministers, I have found that our situation is not unique.  The Board of Directors of UCM has spent a great deal of time on strategic planning, as we anticipate that these types of percentages are the “new normal.”  But the board has also been asking itself, “Do we have other options for fund-raising?”  This, my dear fellow campus ministers, is where you come in today.  At regional gatherings, I’ve heard of ministries that have considered going into the student housing business (with mixed results it seems) to support their campus ministries.  I’ve heard of ministries that have consolidated or partnered with other organizations.  Sadly, I’ve heard of ministries that have been forced to sell their buildings and/or dissolve because they have not been able to stay viable.  So friends, here are today’s questions:  What are you doing?  What has been successful?  What has not been fruitful?   What are you considering?  What would you like to add to the discussion?

I find one of the great advantages to being in involved with NCMA is that there is a great deal of wisdom amongst its members;  I don’t always need to recreate the wheel, as there is likely someone who has had the same challenges, and might be willing to share their wisdom and experience with me.  So please, consider this an invitation to join the discussion.

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A graduate of St. Olaf College and Yale Divinity School, Nancy Eggen is a United Church of Christ minister who has served since 2002 as campus minister at United Campus Ministry at The University of Tulsa,  an ecumenical and interfaith ministry committed to the pursuit of peace and justice.   She lives and works in Tulsa with her husband, 8 year old daughter, and an ever-revolving cast of quirky, committed, passionate, empathetic, strong, tender, enthusiastic, and inspiring college students and alumni.

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One Response to “Funding Funding! Where Art Thou Funding!?”

  1. Linda Carter July 16, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Nancy- I am a full-time staff member at Vanderbilt University and a long-time volunteer with our Presbyterian Campus Ministry. I am starting part-time studies at our Divinity School next month because I want to do more in support of campus ministry. My question to you is when you say individuals are giving the most to your program who are they? Are your donors members of local congregations, parents of current or former students, or alumni? Or, all of the above? At Vanderbilt, our ministry is registered as an affiliated student group and as such we have access to the alumni database to keep our mail and email list up to date. We are working to educate current students of our financial needs so they can share the need with their parents if they feel so called and so they will hopefully want to give back when they graduate. I think young alumni are the next great hope of supporters for us!

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