Financial reports: Good news about Beacon, health plan, fundraising

UUA Financial Advisor Dan Brody reported at the end of Friday’s plenary session that “the recession has had a severe impact on UUA finances,” but he pointed to several encouraging trends.

Dan Brody, UUA Financial Advisor

The recession and stock market declines over the last two years have especially affected the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund, which pools UUA assets with the assets of congregations and other UU organizations. The total value of that fund fell $14 million in FY2008, and fell another $24 million in FY2009. In the past 11 months, however, the fund earned 17 percent. “The fund’s performance is in the top quarter of similar endowments,” Brody said, and he urged congregations to consider investing their funds with the UUCEF rather than trying to manage their endowments independently.

Beacon Press, the UUA’s independent book publishing arm, is finishing FY2010 with a surplus for the eighth consecutive year, Brody said. The press’s net assets have grown $1.2 million, and Beacon now has a reserve of $2.7 million.

Brody praised the board’s decision in May to replace Fidelity Investments with TIAA-CREF as the record-keeper for the UUA pension fund, following several years of pressure from the UUA on Fidelity to divest from companies that do business in Darfur. Brody said that TIAA-CREF, which has divested from Darfur, had joined the UUA in 17 of the 18 shareholder resolutions it has filed, whereas Fidelity voted with the UUA less than one-third of the time.

Brody also shared good news about the UUA’s three-year-old health insurance trust for ministers and other congregational staff. The health insurance program now covers 1,300+ employees, retirees, and dependents, and has generated reserves of $2.5 million. He called the trust a “a resounding success.”

“More than 90 percent of eligible employees now have health coverage,” he said, and he urged delegates to push their congregations to provide coverage to more in the coming year.

(Brody also discussed the potential financial impact of a UUA boycott of Arizona in 2012, which I’ll report on in a separate post.)

Read the financial advisor’s 12-page annual report (pdf) to the General Assembly.

Paul Rickter, chair of the Board’s Finance Committee, reported the UUA’s total expected incomeĀ in FY2011 (which begins July 1, 2010) is $22.6 million. The UUA expects $6.6 million from Annual Program Fund contributions from congregations; $1 million from Friends donations from individuals; and $1.3 million from bequests.

“Giving to the UUA is holding steady,” Rickter said, “which is very good news. Bequest income is trending higher than expected, and we expect it to be considerably higher.”

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