Some changes are coming to the Northern Lights Chalice Lighter Program, an important fundraising program supporting Canadian UU congregations. A special CUC committee has been looking at Northern Lights and the Sharing Our Faith fundraising program and has made the following changes:
- The deadline for applications for a Northern Lights project will now be once a year, on March 31. In the past, there were two deadlines, Jan. 15 and Sept. 15.
- Although there is only one deadline a year, up to two projects may be selected from applications received by March 31.
- Northern Lights project sizes will be over $5,000. Sharing Our Faith grants will be $5,000 or less.
The committee was tasked with streamlining the processes used for major funding programs, to make sure they fit together and don’t require major administrative time from our limited CUC staff or our busy UU ministers. One such streamlining move is to give Sharing Our Faith and Northern Lights the same March 31 deadline for applications, and to distinguish the two programs by the amount of grants possible.
While the committee admired the crowd-funding approach used by Northern Lights last year, it concluded crowd-funding is not possible given our limited CUC staff. The committee rejected the idea of merging Northern Lights and Sharing Our Faith into one fundraising effort.
Northern Lights projects are supposed to be grassroots and transformative. Congregations whose project is selected will contact UUs who are on a national list of donors called Chalice Lighters. The congregations then provide tax receipts directly to the individual donors. Sharing Our Faith raises money from an annual Sunday morning collection by congregations within the CUC.
In 2015/2016, Northern Lights piloted a crowdfunding platform which resulted in support for 4 different projects: creation of a Truth and Reconciliation curriculum; a community choir run by Lakeshore UUs; a music ministry in Toronto; and an online resource for creation of rituals.
The Northern Lights-Sharing Our Faith review committee is CUC board vice-president Jane Ebbern (team leader), UUMOC president Samaya Oakley, and CUC board member Susan Ruttan, with huge help from CUC president Keith Wilkinson.
More information on Northern Lights is at www.cuc.ca/northern-lights. Please consider going to this page and signing up to be a Chalice Lighter donor.
Sharing Our Faith information can be found here.
Have you had opportunity to use resources from the CUC in the past year? Had your questions or concerns addressed by CUC staff? Or maybe you’ve attended a CUC conference, regional gathering, webinar or roundtable and strengthened connections with other UUs. Perhaps your congregation has found value when a CUC staff member has walked with you through transitions, conflict, or governance matters.
The work of CUC staff in service to our UU congregations and communities is made possible largely through the financial commitment of your congregation to the CUC, the Annual Program Contribution, and through direct contributions from Friends of the CUC. Sadly, over 2015 and 2016, a significant portion of these funds have been diverted to legal costs.
When Canada Revenue Agency supplied notice that the CUC would be audited for 2012 and 2013, the decision was made to seek top legal advice. This decision has helped the CUC navigate the uncertain waters of an audit, and to reach a reasonable compliance agreement. However, the cost has reached tens of thousands of dollars, and last year, the budget was stretched to cover the 2015 legal bill. This year, extra help is needed, and we are turning to you – Canadian UUs and congregations – for this help. Continue reading
Every year the Canadian Unitarian Council encourages UU congregations across the country to hold a Sharing Our Faith service, celebrating our interconnectedness. Sharing Our Faith is an opportunity to share a common worship service with Canadian congregations, engage deeply with a shared theme, and support one another. At Sharing Our Faith services, congregations are requested to take up a special collection for the SOF Fund, which provides grants to congregations and communities working to enhance ministry, outreach, and our UU impact in the world.
We invite worship teams to create a service using the 2017 Sharing Our Faith packet, created this year by Rev. Fiona Heath, with the support of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada. The packet offers options for readings, hymns, and homilies on this year’s theme of Love and Justice. The Sharing Our Faith packet will be available in January 2017, and we encourage congregations to plan a Sharing Our Faith service for February, during CUC month, when we look outward to all the interconnected communities with whom we collectively create our Canadian UU Movement.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s audit of the CUC is in the final stage. A Compliance Agreement has been signed, which outlines the corrective measures the CUC has to take. We have 6 months from the signing of the agreement (until February 21, 2017) to implement these measures. CUC Executive Director, Vyda Ng, has already begun the implementation.
The CUC has obtained top notch legal advice during the audit process, which began in January 2015 – this legal advice has helped us navigate the intricacies of the process with confidence and has led to a constructive outcome. The legal advice, however, has come at a high cost. We have been guided well, but legal fees in 2015 amounted to $38,000; in 2016, they will be in the vicinity of $25,000. This expertise includes advice in general on charity law and international agreements, all of which have resulted in resources to benefit our congregations – check out the Congregations, Charities and Best Practices series, as well as on-going webinars like the upcoming one on Reviewing and Updating Charitable Purposes.
Many Canadian UUs are committed to supporting the work of our international partners, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) and the UU-United Nations Office (UU-UNO). You have been waiting patiently while the CUC has been working through compliance with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines for Canadian charities to function internationally. During this period, we have held on to contributions to these partners, and have asked you to do the same.
We are now pleased to inform you that the CUC, in consultation with our legal advisors, have worked out specific agreements, in accordance with CRA requirements, to further the CUC’s work of supporting the growth and development of UU communities internationally with both ICUU and UU-UNO, and to provide necessities and resources to those in need. We will work with ICUU to develop leadership potential and skills for UUs in African countries, and with the UU-UNO with the Every Child is Our Child (ECOC) program in Ghana. Continue reading