Project Updates

This section of the UUFN website contains a lot of information about the movement towards a potential major building project.  Click around the tabs above to learn about the history of the discussion, current updates and information about a potential capital campaign. 

10/21/2023:  We have retained Langer Construction and LHB Architects to review our prior design ideas and create  concept designs for building expansion. They will provide options that allow us to create low, medium, and high cost scenarios for our financial feasibility study (scheduled for January 2024). We are planning to hold a congregational meeting in December to review the design possibilities with the congregation. 

Here is the presentation we did in April which gives context on prior thinking around the imbalances between our congregational needs and limitations of our current space. You can also see the presentation and the report provided by church consultant Rachel Maxwell from her visit in May. 

August 10th Update:
How is money for a building project raised?

It would be absolutely lovely if we could just find someone to give us a huge grant! We may be able to get some very small grants such as for solar panels, or a Chalice Lighters grant from the UUA MidAmerica Region. We will certainly go for those. We could decide to take on a small mortgage to supplement what we can raise, but a mortgage too large is not a good idea as it impacts the money available for programming. The reality is that most of the money needs to come from congregants through pledges in a special capital campaign.

Our congregation’s annual budget is mostly supported by the pledges we make each year. A capital campaign would ask for an additional pledge that could be paid over a period of three years. The amount of money that congregants can afford to pledge varies tremendously as our financial situations vary. There are some people who can reach into their “other pot of money” that they don’t need for living expenses and they can make a gift from that. But many don’t have another “pot of money”. The money they have is the money that comes each month through working, retirement or Social Security. And so as people look at what they might be able to give, there will be tremendous variation. We would need gifts of all sizes.

First we will need to develop some plans as to what we might want to build. Then the congregation could decide to have a capital campaign. And based on that it could make a decision whether to build and how much.

August 3rd Update:
What are we looking for in a building addition?

The Building Vision Team has sent out a Request for Proposals seeking a firm that could work with us in designing and eventually building the addition. The extent of what we might build will depend on how much money we could raise. But before it is time to raise money we need to have congregational discussion of what it is we are hoping for. Our plan is to have a preliminary design prepared for discussion this fall. This design will change based on feedback and eventually based on a clear understanding of what money we have.

One of our needs is to have space that can be used for socializing – potlucks, receptions, coffee hour for example. We also want to have a real kitchen and have it close to the social space. We’ve talked about having an unfinished basement with electrical rough-in that the congregation could finish room by room as money, energy and need arises. This space could greatly expand religious education space as well as provide office space or small meeting rooms. From this contractor we’d need to have the roofs solar ready and there are various programs we can use to install solar panels. There are many other considerations, such as heating and cooling, acoustics, environmental efficiency, floor surfaces and storage space.

What is a Financial Feasibility Study? UUFN had a Next Steps Weekend with consultant Rachel Maxwell in May. She gave us several recommendations to help us move forward towards a potential building project. One of them was to develop proposed building plans that could show what we could build if we could raise $350,000 or $550,000 or $1,000,000. She felt certain that we could raise at least $350,000 based on our annual giving amount and based on what she has seen in other Unitarian Universalist congregations. But she said that the amount we might raise could vary tremendously and encouraged us to think well beyond the minimum. A decision on whether to build and what we build won’t be made until after we know what has actually been raised.
We have contracted with Rachel to conduct a Financial Feasibility Study in January, after the congregation has had a chance to see and react to various potential plans. She will come to UUFN and conduct 18 interviews with individuals and couples and then prepare a written report. The interviews will cover ideas and opinions of those interviewed as well as a question about a potential capital campaign gift. Each interview is confidential, but the trend of thinking of the interviews as a group will be shared. This report will give us good feedback as to whether we are ready to engage in a capital campaign. From those interviews, Rachel
will be able to make a closer prediction as to what we would be able to raise, both from making projections based on information from the interviews and by having uncovered knowledge of specific major gifts. Any congregational decision as to whether to even have a capital campaign will come after that report.