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Shaping the 2013 Diocese of Vermont budget

The Budget and Finance Committee of Diocesan Council thanks the 88 individuals who participated in our initial survey soliciting feedback to help us shape our Diocesan Budget priorities for 2013. The survey was sent to nearly 500 and a link posted in the Mountain E-news. We hope that even more will will participate in the next steps in forming our 2013 budget.

The results of our mission visioning survey are below, along with next steps in the budget-building process. We have a follow-up survey questionnaire at Survey Monkey that focuses on new opportunities for mission, and we invite all in the Diocese of Vermont to participate. The survey is here.

Summary of findings from the April 2012 survey

1.  Questions about awareness/involvement in our budgeting process

a.  Aware of diocesan budgeting process:  51% yes
b.  Aware of how priorities are named:  40% yes
c.  Were involved in the process:  19% yes
d.  Know how diocesan budget reflects priorities:  41%

2.  Questions about perceptions of the budget process

a.  It is fair to both larger and smaller parishes?   22% agree (57% unsure)
b.  Everyone was invited to the table?   31% agree (44% unsure)

3.  Question of where funding should be directed. The survey question read: What do you think about the suggestion before The Episcopal Church that funds for mission might be more faithfully applied to local ministry outposts, congregations and diocese rather than to the larger organizational structures of The Episcopal Church?

a.  38% strongly agree 

b.  24% agree
c.  26% somewhat agree
d. 12% disagree
Comment:  (We recognize the above question is fuzzy and will be working to find greater clarity about directing funds through the 2013 budgeting process.)

4.  Questions about perceptions of how we are living our present mission

a.  How are we Praying the Prayer, Doing the Deeds, Learning the Mind of Christ?
1.  good or fair:  69%
2.  very well, poorly, or not sure: 10% each

b.  How are we living the themes of our diocesan mission?
1.  Percentage responding good to fair:  Liberation (50), Formation (50),
Connection (67), Communication (69), Celebration (75)

5.  Questions about collaboration

a.  Collaboration in fund-raising
1.  Important/very important to collaborate as diocese:   67%
2.  Important/very important to collaborate at provincial level:  33%
3.  Important/very important to collaborate at Episcopal Church level:  37%

b.  Collaboration in overall operations
1.  Important/very important at diocesan level: 85%
2.  Important/very important as provincial level:  44%
3.  Important/very important at Episcopal Church level:  50%

6.  Questions about mission priorities and funding preferences

a. Seven mission priorities emerged from your survey responses:
(Note:  the way we asked the question did not allow us to rank responses,
so these are not listed in any particular order.)
1.  Congregational support and development
2.  Formation of Christian disciples for their ministry in daily life
3.  Communication of the Good News of Jesus Christ and what is happening in
the Diocese of Vermont and beyond                                                                     
4. Outreach to human need present in our Vermont communities and the world       
5.  Rock Point:  Supporting the property/programs at Rock Point
6.  Bishop, diocesan Ministry Support Team, and The Episcopal Church
The preceding six mission priorities support and reflect our ultimate priority – Mission – thus:
7.  Sharing in God’s reconciling mission in our diocese and globally.

b.  Ways we see/prefer to effectively fund the diocesan mission
1.  Diocesan assessment:  64%
2.  Direct Giving:  64%
3.  Fund raising:  32%
4.  Planned Giving:  36%
5.  Grants: 12%

The next steps we envision in building the 2013 budget

1)  Synthesize responses to the follow up survey (participate here)
2)  Share results of the survey and the new opportunities named; develop and share several budget scenarios and solicit input
3)  Communicate ways to participate through E-news, and offer ways for delegates to be in conversation prior to pre-convention hearings.
4)  Finalize proposed budget and name some new opportunities for ministry in response to #1-3 above.

Meeting the challenges and opportunities of our 2013 budget process

At this time, our diocesan budgeting process presents significant challenges. Some reasons are:
1)  A 2011 deficit budget of $46,000 was addressed by using all carry-overs from previous years and by using some of the “accumulated gain” in non-restricted investment funds from the Diocesan Unit Fund, a precedent our Trustees caution is imprudent to continue.
2)  Our 2012 budget is brought into balance only by additional voluntary sources of revenue, that is, the second Diocesan Annual Appeal and the first income line item for diocesan fundraisers and additional pledges from congregations sharing of their bounty. ($75,000 total).
3)  2012 budget shows a decrease in the income from parish assessments, reflecting decreasing parish budgets and the effect of the reduction in the Diocesan Assessment formula voted by Convention in 2006.
4)  For the past ten years, Diocesan Council (supported by comments at Diocesan Convention) has been working toward meeting our full asking share in support of the budget of The Episcopal Church as adopted by General Convention. The current percentage asking is 19% of our diocesan operating income and in 2012 we are at 17.5%.  Assuming the General Convention Budget continues the 19% asking, we are close to reaching that goal in 2013. In contrast, our survey indicates a clear preference to direct resources more to parishes and diocese, as opposed to the wider-church budget.
5)  Our Capital Campaign Discernment process identified a strong feeling of “disconnect” within our diocese, and then our response to Tropical Storm Irene revealed a wonderful sense of connection in mission.  How do we build on the awareness Irene provided of our connectedness and how might that translate in terms of our diocesan budget?
6)  Many in our diocese are taking great interest in the literature and emerging practices of those who are exploring “fresh expressions” of ministry.  Given the reality of the “post-Christendom” era we are navigating, how might those “fresh expressions” breathe life and vitality into our diocese and congregations?  What budgetary implications might result?
7)  Income from investments in the Diocesan Unit Fund has decreased with the market trends and the infrequency of new gifts to increase the investment portfolio.
8)  Unsettled medical insurance issues loom with unknown financial costs.

Opportunities for Mission

We have many opportunities for mission as well.
The survey responses reflect strong interest in developing new ways for us to join in God’s mission. Please help us name some opportunities that you see (and are willing to support) by filling out the follow-up survey here.

We are counting on your participation and the resources of your time and talent and leadership to help our diocese forge a new way of being Christ’s church.

Thank you for your participation.  And keep your eyes peeled for the next calls to help us shape our 2013 diocesan budget.

Budget and Finance Committee Members:
Wallace Good, Treasurer and Chair, Thomas Ely, Thom Rock, Craig Smith, Peter Galbraith, David Veale, Paul Leduc, and Lynn Bates, with support from Angela Emerson and Julie Giguere

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