YACHT Fundraising Campaign – Some Questions and Answers

We launched our ambitious YACHT Campaign in September 2014 and since then have been encouraging members of the Greenbank congregation to make a donation through one of a range of options. Here we answer some of the questions which have arisen, reaffirm the purpose of this Campaign, which we believe to be fundamental to our future, and encourage you to pledge support.

Why does Greenbank need a Yacht?

Greenbank doesn’t need a yacht! The yacht is merely a symbol that we are using for the appeal, based on the phrase “Youth At CHurch Today”. As a yacht needs to be “steered” and be on a “steady course”, and so on, it gives us an image and a metaphor that can be applied to our youth ministry in Greenbank.

Is Greenbank short of money? Aren’t we quite a wealthy congregation?

Relatively speaking, the Greenbank congregation does contribute more than many congregations are able to. But our commitments are also very high: for example, more than 50% of our givings go to ‘Ministry and Mission’ – to 121 George Street to support the wider work of the Church of Scotland, principally funding ministers for poorer congregations. (Our M&M contribution was over £140,000 in 2016.) The Treasurer’s Report, presented at the Congregational Business Meeting in March each year, goes into detail about our income and outgoings.

For a number of years we were able to pursue projects and initiatives largely based on a small number of generous bequests; the refurbishment of the sanctuary and the initial employment of the Rev Bill Stone are two examples. However, we cannot rely on such bequests: if we are to plan for the future, as we must, it has to be based on givings from the congregation.

Our current annual commitments exceed our annual income. We must either reduce our commitments or ask the congregation to contribute more to support the work of the church. The Kirk Session has decided on the latter course.

Why do we need a Youth Minister?

We see all around us declining attendances at churches, of many different denominations. Many families and youngsters are just not connecting with the traditional model of the Church. We need to find new and creative ways to reach out and nurture faith; give youngsters a foundation for life; and support them in their spiritual development. That will provide a sense of community, allow others to be engaged and so introduced into the Church. Good examples which have been developed in Greenbank are Messy Church and the Holiday Clubs which reach out to families and youngsters in the Parish. These events are well attended and form small congregations of their own. Messy Church has averaged fifty attendees over the last two events. With inbuilt service and teaching these are meaningful Christian events in their own right.

But that needs staffing. It needs a Youth Minister to get out into the Parish and create and develop these links and events. And that needs a sustained commitment over a number of years.

And what is the alternative? A typical pattern is of families with young children not attending, and not attracted or encouraged to do so, with the inevitable result that the average age of the congregation goes up. Soon there are no young adults available to take on leadership roles of church organisations. As the numbers attending dwindle, congregational activity dwindles, and before long the church is being joined to another congregation or closed down altogether.

Greenbank may seem a long way from this dismal scenario. But our membership is declining year on year and indeed in this sense we are already facing a fight for survival in the future which the Session is determined to address now.

So we simply must focus on our youth ministry. We must attract young families willing to play an active part in the congregation, and the best way to do this is to have a member of our ministry team with the particular skills and responsibilities to do that.

How are other congregations faring?

Declining church membership is a widespread problem. Some churches are doing better than others, but much depends on local circumstances. However, there is no real merit in comparing ourselves with other congregations, whether in other parts of Edinburgh or elsewhere. We should focus on serving our local community, and on ensuring that our Christian witness is faithful in inviting people, including young people, to join and play an active part in the life of our Church.

Does this focus on youth mean that the older members will be ignored?

No, we are not planning to reduce other congregational activities ‘for the sake of the young people’. We want to expand the congregation and the church’s life – this applies to all ages. Our focus on youth ministry will not be at the expense of other members of the congregation.

I am currently giving money to the church by Standing Order.
Shall I just increase the amount to contribute to the YACHT appeal?

Thank you for your willingness to increase your givings to Greenbank. But we would like you to complete the reply slip that came with the YACHT brochure, copies of which can be found on the shelves in the Vestibule, and take out a new Standing Order (if that is your preference). This is because the Church has a separate bank account specifically for the YACHT fundraising campaign; the YACHT reply slip references the new account. (Please don’t forget to complete the Gift Aid declaration on the back of the slip.)

Why do you want to raise £500,000? That seems a lot for one minister.

The total of £500,000 is our target for a fundraising project of five years in duration. If we succeed in reaching this target, we should be able to fund the Greenbank youth ministry for almost twenty years, i.e. until end 2033. That is what we mean by the long haul. We would then be able to make long-term plans for our youth work secure in the knowledge of what we could afford. And, of course, we would not have to ask the congregation for further support for this work within that timescale.

We do not wish to budget further ahead than that, as it is impossible to know what will then be the congregation’s priorities.

How much of the total do you expect to raise in the ‘week in September’ each year?

The fundraising events during the designated week in September will enable members of the congregation and parish to come together with a shared purpose. Such events in the past – for example, those associated with our Centenary Project over 15 years ago – served to bring the congregation closer together, and were much enjoyed. We hope the same will apply during our YACHT fundraising weeks over the next five years. That was certainly our experience in September and October 2016. We aim to have further events in 2017.

The fundraising events during the annual week thus far have been well supported, and each year have raised a few thousand pounds. (The events in Autumn 2016, with subsequent sales of the Calendar and Recipe Book, raised over £2,000.)

But it is clear that the amounts raised by such fundraising will only be a small proportion of the total target sum. The main means by which we will approach our target will be by Standing Orders (or other regular giving), augmented by Gift Aid, from individual members of the congregation.

How much do you hope to raise in each of the years 2015–2019 of the campaign?

We look for £80,000 per annum for 4 years and an extra push of £115,000 in 2019, the final year of the campaign. Of course, in that period it will be necessary to pay our Youth Minister and so some of the funds raised each year will be needed to meet that commitment.

How are we doing?

By end October 2016 £213,500 had been raised, with a total of £300,000 pledged. So we have a long way to go – we clearly need further pledges of yearly giving.

Will the money raised just ‘sit in the bank’?

No, the contents of the fund (less what is required in the short term) will be invested, to yield more income.

How will we spend the money?  What happens when it has all gone?

The main item of expenditure is the Youth Minister’s salary. If our projections are accurate and the campaign reaches its ambitious target, then the fund will not be exhausted until 2034. So the aim is to be able to pay for a Youth Minister until then. It is hard for us to know what the challenges facing the congregation will be so far ahead. It is up to the Board and the Session of that time to decide how to proceed.

What happens if we don’t manage to raise £500,000?

We would operate as best we could with what had been raised. But we would have to keep coming back to the congregation in the short term to ask for further financial support for our youth ministry. Our ability to make long term plans would be limited.

Are we planning to raise money for any other causes during the five years of the YACHT appeal?

We will continue to give our full support to Christian Aid, in our regular Advent appeal and during Christian Aid Week. The handsome sums realised for Christian Aid in the Advent appeals during the years of the YACHT project to date demonstrate that this campaign has not diminished that appeal. Furthermore, as has been our practice, the congregation may be asked to support emergency appeals as they arise.

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