Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church
Jerald L. King
Unitarian Universalist Fundraising Consultant
Feasibility Study Participants
The following individuals participated in the interview process for the Feasibility Study.
John and Dorothy Amberger
Mark Babcock and Charles Mekaru
Tim and Nancy Beckett
Randy and Margaret Block
David and Jen Bowden
Ralph Bruechert and Diana Kohler
Don and Ronnie Caley
Chris Doozan and Beata Lamparski
Bud and Anne Felton
David and Lisa Fry
Morris and Sally Goodman
Paul Manzella and Mary Lynn Treppa
Colleen McInerney and Mary Mueller
David and Xina Stewart
Doug Whitehouse and Amy Bachelder
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church
This study was conducted at the request of the Board of Trustees of the Northwest Unitarian
Universalist Church, in Southfield, Michigan. It is designed to determine the level of interest in
and financial support for a capital campaign to renovate and expand your congregation’s home,
to better provide space for your congregation’s programs and activities.
To gain a perspective on where the congregation stands concerning a capital campaign for this
purpose, a series of twenty-five (25) interviews was conducted from a representative sample of
the congregation. As interviews were open to both partners in a household, a total of thirty-nine
(39) individuals’ responses have been included in this report.
The feasibility study sought to answer the following questions concerning a possible capital
What is the level of awareness among congregation members and friends of the projects outlined
above? Is there awareness that undertaking these projects will require a capital campaign?
What is the level of awareness among congregation members that repair of the roof, renovation of
existing space, and expanded space to meet programs are the topics under consideration for this
What questions remain about the specific nature of space to be renovated as a result of the
proposed capital campaign?
How familiar are people with the fact that, if the congregation decides to proceed with the
proposed renovation and expansion, a capital campaign will be necessary?
What priority level do people place on conducting a capital campaign to address the structural
integrity of your building and its expansion to provide space for your programs and activities?
What is a feasible financial goal to be raised over a three-year period to meet the needs of this
The Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church has taken major strides in its stewardship in the last
four years. I am impressed with increases in the annual stewardship giving of the congregation. There
are not only more members, but individual members are making some significant increases in annual
giving. It is important to mention this as a key item in this report because healthy annual giving is
central in a successful capital campaign. Members do not appear to be wealthier here than in many
other congregations I have worked with – you are just giving generously.
On the basis of the responses to this survey instrument, it is feasible for the congregation of the
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield, Michigan to set a financial goal for a capital
campaign to fund the project described in this document of between $325,000 and $365,000. These
figures assume that individuals will have three years to complete their pledge payments. There is a
broad understanding that annual stewardship pledges that support your congregation’s operating
budget cannot be reduced to make a financial commitment to the capital campaign.
If some of the following conditions are met there is a possibility that the goal for this project could be
1. A clearer understanding of the project may provide increased commitment from members and
friends of your congregation. As the design phase progresses, people see exactly what will be
covered in the renovation of your current building, and what will be involved in the new
construction phase – excitement can increase. If people are excited by what they see, as the
design of your project takes shape; the congregation is likely to raise funds toward the upper
end of the range and could possibly exceed your goal. There is commitment and excitement
about a new space, both from people who were here for your last campaign that moved you to
this point, and from newer members who have been here only a few years. The work that has
already been done on the restrooms to make them accessible, and dividing the large meeting
space has helped to fuel initial excitement.
2. Your “alumni group,” those who were active in the congregation but have moved
from the immediate area, is a potential source for some funds. Some of these people
may have an ability to contribute to this campaign if approached in the proper
manner. Understand that although they may now belong to another congregation,
they may still help your cause as their finances permit, because this congregation
holds a special place in their hearts. Their support is not available for an annual
campaign that supports your operating budget, but some funds may be available for
this special fund raising effort. It is important that these individuals be contacted and
asked for their help in making your dream a reality.
How long have you been a member or a friend of our congregation?
3 1 year or less
2 1 to 2 years
0 3 to 4 years
0 5 to 6 years
4 7 to 8 years
4 9 to 10 years
4 11 to 12 years
4 13 to 14 years
0 15 to 16 years
4 17 to 18 years
0 19 to 20 years
1 21 to 22 years
2 23 to 24 years
0 25 to 26 years
3 27 to 28 years
3 29 to 30 years
0 31 to 32 years
0 33 to 34 years
1 35 to 36 years
0 37 to 38 years
1 39 to 40 years
0 41 to 42 years
2 43 to 44 years
0 45 to 46 years
0 47 to 48 years
2 49 to 50 years
1 More than 50 years
What activities or programs at our congregation are most important to you?
23 Religious Education program for children /youth
23 Friendships/People/Extended Family
21 Sunday Service/Sermon
11 Religious Community
11 Kimi is great!
10 Social community/Have fun
9 Working together with other UU outreach programs
7 Outreach/Social Justice Programs
7 Discussion groups
7 Religious Education Program for adults
7 Personal support
6 Like minded people
5 Small groups
5 Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes
4 Working together
4 Feel greeted/welcomed by everyone
3 Intergenerational mix of people
3 Informal conversations/Discussions
2 Treated my daughter/son like their own
2 Feel cared for and needed
2 Welcoming Congregation
2 YAC for my kids
2 Coffee hour
2 Keeping things running
2 Life long affiliation
2 Whole thought process
2 Chance to speak openly
1 Democratic process
1 Not much
1 Expand/grow/build strong ministry
1 Opportunity to grow
1 Meditation Group
1 Membership Committee
1 Involved with sound system
1 Helped me grow
1 Board Work
1 High School Groups
Are you familiar with the proposed capital project to expand and upgrade our current building?
The individuals who responded to the survey indicated overwhelmingly that they were at least
somewhat familiar with the proposed project that would be funded by a capital campaign. All of
the respondents said they knew at least what they felt they needed to know. Everyone is in
agreement that the roof and related structural repairs are and should be the first priority for this
The overwhelming majority of the individuals interviewed reported that they are generally in
favor of the project and felt that it was a high priority. While some people have concerns about
the ability of the congregation to fund a project of this magnitude, most said that they would like
the project to be undertaken if the money is available.
Do you believe this project is a high priority for our congregation at this time?
Yes, for me, but . . . . 23%*
* Those who said “Yes, for me, but” – personally people felt the project was a high priority for them,
but they did not feel comfortable speaking for the congregation.
The following is a representative group of comments that people made in their response to whether or not
this was a high priority for the congregation now. Not all of the comments are printed here. This is just a
sampling to help you understand the range of feelings that people expressed. Nothing is implied about
the number of times that people made these comments; the thoughts may represent the only comment of
its kind, or several individuals could have echoed it.
I think there is growing energy for this project, it seemed like we were held back by a lot of
negativity, Kimi has helped us move beyond that.
The roof is the top priority!
I wish more people from the neighborhood attended.
This is the priority!
Some vocal people are projecting a “negative energy,” but I think we are actually moving
ahead – there is a sense of new energy.
I have been disappointed in the past with all of our projects on this building! We have
improved the condition of the building, but we have never added any new space – our programs
are overflowing. I want some new space, we have talked about it forever, it is time to do
something besides talk. Kimi is helping us move beyond our old limits.
Our kitchen needs to come into the 21st century.
It is a priority for some people more than for others, however, I feel that it is more and more
becoming the priority of the congregation.
I would like to do this, but I am very discouraged about the money – there is no money here.
I am blown over by the energy of some of these new people. It is great!
We have tried to add space before but we did not raise enough money and all we could do is
paint up and fix up. We really need the space now and to not be able to get any new space will
only confirm the negative feelings that have been here for so many years. We have started to
move beyond those feelings and we must keep moving in that direction. We cannot go back!
The roof is a high priority and must be addressed.
The economy here in Michigan is not good, I feel it is the wrong time to do this from the
financial perspective. On the other hand, maybe there are some people here who will be
generous with what they have. The ideas that I am hearing are innovative. Maybe we can do
Thirty years ago, I was a part of the campaign we did. The result of our efforts was only
enough money to do renovations – we have never been able to expand our building.
We are urgently in need of “growing” this church and must at least cater to such comfort to
hold on to prospective members.
I have no desire to grow!
The programs here are the most important things, but I think we have to take care of the
building and provide the space to do the things we want. The accessible restroom was a good
start, but it is still more of the same.
This project is a high priority in people’s minds, but I do not think it is a high priority in
The issue here is that if there are any people here who do have money, they do not give it
because they do not want to offend the people who are here who do not have any.
I have no real sense that this project is a burning issue here for anyone.
I think we should do this campaign but I am still concerned about our annual operating
This is starting to be a high priority here. I am impressed by all of the new members here, our
congregation is getting younger!
We have talked about this for the past 9 years, now is the time to do something. I am ready!
I have no way to measure what the feeling in the congregation is – I just do not know.
I think the highest priority is salaries for our staff. If we cannot keep them, a new building
does not matter.
I think people will give what they can. I am excited by all of the new people, maybe we can
even pull this off!
I do not think it is quite real yet, although interest in the project seems to be growing. The
drawings have helped me think of this as a possibility.
Take a few moments to consider your support for this project. Please indicate the range in which your pledge
might be found. This is not a pledge; it is a number that will help in our planning for an achievable goal.
When you make your pledge, you will have up to three years to fulfill your commitment. This pledge will be in
addition to your support of our annual canvass. It is important to the health of our congregation that your
annual pledge not be reduced to make your commitment to our effort to raise capital funds.
a. $ 50,001 or more 0 g. $ 7,501 to $ 10,000 7
b. $ 40,001 to $ 50,000 0 h. $ 5,001 to $ 7,500 2
c. $ 30,001 to $ 40,000 0 i. $ 3,001 to $ 5,000 3
d. $ 20,001 to $ 30,000 1 j. $ 1,501 to $ 3,000 3
e. $ 15,001 to $ 20,000 1 k. $ 1,001 to $ 1,500 1
f. $ 10,001 to $ 15,000 0 l. Up to $1,000 5
m. $3,000 to $9,000 1
n. Unsure/will give 1
o. Nothing 1
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
After considering the size and number of pledges that people indicated that they would make in a
Capital Campaign, I recommend that you proceed with your campaign. The goal of your
campaign should be within the indicated range ($325,000 to $365,000) and raised for the purpose
of repairing the roof, upgrading your existing space, and expanding your building to address the
current level of programming for your congregation.
The timing of the campaign is the next issue that the congregation will face. It is my opinion that
the campaign can be done either in the fall or the spring. If in the fall, ask for pledges to be
completed by Thanksgiving 2004. If you select that option there will be considerable work that
will have to be done during the summer so that you will be ready when you return to the new
church year in the fall. There may be some advantage to an earlier campaign in terms of the
funds that you will be borrowing to replace your roof. An early campaign may produce enough
funds to retire any debt you incur by the close of the calendar year.
It is also possible to conduct your campaign in the spring. The advantage to the spring campaign
will be two-fold:
1. A spring campaign will reduce, but not eliminate, the work that will need to be done
this summer and it will give the congregation more time to consider the plans before
they are asked to give.
2. A spring campaign will also allow the combination of your annual stewardship
campaign with your capital campaign. The major benefit to this process is that in the
next 13 months you will ask people for money only the normal two times, not three times
(two annual campaigns and one capital campaign). Combined campaigns save volunteer
time and allow the congregation to spend less time talking about money. The downside
is that you may be paying a bit more interest on your roof money.
There is always something that makes the time to proceed with a project seem less than perfect. In
deciding to proceed it is important to make sure that you look at all of the options and decide to move
ahead or not based upon all of the conditions. Working together, congregations can make miracles if they
decide as a group to make something happen.
The economic conditions nationwide and in Southfield are looking better, but they are not yet all that one
might hope for during a capital campaign. It means that many members and friends of the congregation
will not be able to give as much as they might like. Therefore, your goal is lower than it might be under
more robust financial conditions. However, there are two important characteristics about capital
campaigns that take place in less than desirable economic conditions:
1. These economic conditions have produced the lower interest rates than might “normally” be
expected. Rates have increased some, but it will probably still cost less to finance your project.
2. Although there are some positive signs in the economy, the construction trades have not yet seen
the changes and many contractors may still be willing to make a bit less profit personally just to
be able to keep their crews busy. That way when the economy really turns around they will be in
a position to jump right in and take advantage of any boom in construction. That means you may
get more work on your building for a lower cost.
Weighing the necessity to replace your roof and make repairs to your building and provide the space for
the programs you want, as expressed in the financial support from the members of your congregation, I
recommend that you proceed with your capital campaign.
Jerald L. King
Unitarian Universalist Fundraising Consultant