United Thank Offering 2018 Triennial Report
By Wendy Grace | Delegate, The Episcopal Church in Vermont
One of the most important organizations to come out of The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) work is the United Thank Offering. Established in 1889, the United Thank Offering has been supporting missions and ministries of the Episcopal Church through its grants programs. In recent years, the ECW Triennial gathering voted to expand grants to offer scholarships to seminarians and to provide grants for young adults with visions of new ministries.
The UTO recognizes that people who practice a personal spiritual discipline of gratitude are happier and healthier people.
Over time, the UTO has grown from its initial collection of a few thousand dollars to the $1,069,512.49 collected in 2017. That, coupled with interest earned from endowment investments, provided for $1,257,778.18 in grants for 2018. Jack Karn of the Diocese of Vermont was the recipient of a UTO young adult grant. The United Thank Offering recognizes that people who practice a personal spiritual discipline of gratitude are happier and healthier people.
At the 2018 ECW Triennial, the UTO offered delegates a number of workshops to learn more about the process for collecting funds and for applying for grants. At their booth at the General Convention Exhibit Hall, the UTO unveiled their new “Blue Box App.” You can now access the UTO on your smart devices through an app. The app offers stories of gratitude from all over the Episcopal Church. It allows you a place to log you own instances of thanksgiving and even gives you suggestions for how to find gratitude. You can choose to share your story and to contribute directly to the UTO for that particular thanks giving. The app also provides resources that might come in handy. It still has some tweaks that need to be made. For example, it should allow one to log a gratitude without having to respond to a preset question. And perhaps there should be a donation option without having to log a gratitude. That said, however, the goal of the app is to foster a daily practice of giving thanks; it is not designed to ask people for money. Still, if you log something every day, you’ll have a handy record when it comes time for your parish ingathering.
Training UTO coordinators (both parish and diocesan) is one of the UTO’s 2018 goals.
One of the workshops coordinators were encouraged to attend discussed parish level ingatherings. One of the suggestions for ingatherings was to collect not just the blue box contributions, but to collect samples of gratitude and to share them aloud as the collection is being taken. The UTO is developing tighter tracking methods for accounting contributions so that better records of donors at the individual, parish, diocese and province are kept. In the past, individual donations made directly to the UTO would not be credited to a parish or diocese. Sometimes parishes sent their ingathering to their diocesan office and would not be recorded as a parish contribution. The UTO would like to acknowledge and give thanks for all contributors, recognizing the individual as well as their parish and diocese. This is a goal that will take a little time and training to make happen. Training UTO coordinators (both parish and diocesan) is one of the UTO’s 2018 goals.
Ideally, every parish would designate a UTO coordinator to serve as a liaison for information and connect with the diocesan coordinator. Wendy Grace is the Vermont Diocesan Coordinator for the United Thank Offering. Please call her or email her at (802) 775-4368 or firstname.lastname@example.org with contact information for your parish coordinator. Wendy will connect with that person with any assistance needed. Exciting times are ahead for the United Thank Offering!
You can now access the UTO on your smart device using the “UTO Blue Box” app. (Available in the App Store and Google Play. See https://www.utoblueboxapp.org/)