Before you scroll down, check out this short video where Erin and I announce and explain a big change that is coming in January 2023.
OK, so now that you've heard the big announcement, you can read on for some of the financial context if you want to know more about how The Commonwealth is funded and what it will take to keep us going into the future.
Who Funds The Commonwealth?
When this community was started in 2018, it began with some generous grants from the local Pittsburgh Presbytery, the regional Synod of the Trinity, and the national 1001 New Worshiping Communities program. About thirty individual sustaining supporters signed up for monthly donations. And we also had some support from our partner church, the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community. Here's a snapshot of our income streams in that first year.
Having these grants allowed us to hit the ground running with two full-time staff people with complementary gifts and skills. However, the grants are a limited resource and in order to continue on in the same manner we need to develop other streams of income.
In 2019, Third Presbyterian Church came onboard as a church partner and in 2022 we gained support from Sixth Presbyterian Church. These are congregations who not only share our values but also believe that a healthy church ecosystem includes established churches and new ones.
Our network of sustaining supporters has also grown over the last four years so that, together, the sustaining supporters and the church partners now provide about one quarter of our income. Here's a snapshot of our income streams in 2022.
So you can see that giving to The Commonwealth has grown significantly and also that there is quite a way to go in order for this community to continue without grant support.
What Do We Spend Our Money On?
Here's the breakdown (if you'd like to see a copy of the entire budget, just send me a message). About 85% of our budget is for our staff which means salary, health insurance, and retirement benefits for Erin and myself. About 10% is for our programs which includes things like our worship gatherings, campus ministry, LGBTQIA+ ministry, and the Wild Goose trip. About 5% is for administration and financial services.
In addition to increasing giving to The Commonwealth, another way to approach the situation is to reduce expenses. Because our programs already run on a shoestring, our leadership team decided that more harm than good would come from cutting their budgets. Our primary investment is in our staff and that is where the most savings come from. Which is how we decided to reduce the staff positions for Erin and myself to 3/4 time in 2023.
Support from sustaining supporters has grown quite a bit this year. Here's a snapshot of individual giving since we began in 2018.
As you can see, we are on track to receive about $30,000 in 2023, a significant increase from 2022.
Last month, I sat down for conversation with several sustaining supporters because I was curious about what inspires people to give. It was a gift to hear about what you all value about this community. And it was so affirming to hear how much you value the staff and the care, creativity, and education that we bring to our work. Erin and I feel appreciated.
I also heard repeatedly that you give because The Commonwealth is a unique ministry. One giver summed it up this way: "I’m so into what The Commonwealth is doing and I want it to continue existing in the world. And it feels vulnerable. Like it might extinguish without help."
But together we can keep this flame going! If you haven't yet become a sustaining supporter, please consider signing up in the new year. Here's the link! And if you are already a supporter, please consider whether you have the capacity to increase your giving. Would an additional $5 a month fit in your budget? And whether you're currently able to give or not, you may have family and friends who would also be glad if The Commonwealth continued being here for other people. What would it be like to talk to them about including us in their charitable giving?
If you've scrolled this far, thank you for giving your time to thinking about the future of The Commonwealth!
I'm so glad to be in this together,