WES Blog — Vision, Values and Giving

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden.
As WES continues to grow, it becomes more important that our members pledge enough to sustain our community. As I prepared to present information at our recent Vision and Budget Summit, I learned an important number:
Any idea what that number means?
It is the amount that it takes per member to operate and maintain the WES community. each year. From the coffee and cookies each Sunday to the roof over our heads, from the brilliant staff to Sunday Ethical Education for Kids, that is what it took per member this past year to keep our doors open. Of course since not every one of our members can give that amount, some of us are called to give more than that amount.
My pledge to WES is an investment not in any WES single item or experience. It is much bigger than that. It is an investment in a community and individuals who live into our shared values and who carry those values out into the DC region and the world. For me, those values include social justice, anti-racism and anti-oppression, and a belief in the worth of every person. My investment in WES is an investment in a brighter future within and outside our walls.
As we move into pledge season, it’s a great time to reflect on the values that drive WES and that motivate each of us as individual members of WES. This year the board has partnered with the Stewardship Committee to revamp our planning and pledge process so that your pledge ties more directly to our annual community goals and the budget it will take to accomplish those goals.
The process begins with the development of our Focus Goals. These are the 12 month goals that drive our key priorities each year as we strive toward our aspirational “Ends.” Earlier this month, the 2018-19 Focus Goals were determined by a group of WES lay leaders along with the Board and staff at the Mid-Year Planning Retreat, now renamed our Annual Strategic Saturday. (Really.) Our new Focus Goals, unveiled for our first-ever Vision and Budget Summit are:
  1. Increase awareness of the financial resources required to sustain and grow WES, empowering members to act as dedicated custodians of WES’ future, as measured by an increase in pledges and financial contributions.
  2. Dedicate the time and resources required for WES to become an increasingly anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural, inclusive congregation, in alignment with the results of the multicultural, anti-racism assessment and plan developed through the 2017-2018 focus goal.
  3. Enhance engagement initiatives to inform and connect all WES members, feeding their spirits and sparking their connections to the community under the direction of a new, dedicated membership coordinator.
The purpose of the Vision and Budget Summit is to offer all WES members the opportunity to imagine new, creative and additional strategies to accomplish our 2018-19 Focus Goals before the 2018-19 budget is finalized. The staff, and Amanda in particular, will then use your ideas to finalize the 2018-19 budget which we will share with you before our annual pledge dinners.
Why the change? When we are asked to make a financial commitment to WES, it’s reasonable to want to know where our money goes and how it will make a difference. Our annual giving is an opportunity to live out our values through investment in our WES community. This year we are starting with our giving process with a centering of WES’s values and creating a transparent, member-informed throughline to the budget and your pledge opportunities. In the words of Joe Biden, we are creating a budget that reflects WES’s values, our values. And we are asking you to invest in those.
Margaret Conway, WES Board Member