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Seasons of Giving, Spring 2019: Tax law changes, updates from BLUU leaders, and more.

Seasons of Giving
Spring 2019

In this Issue

Opening Words

Tax Law Changes

Updates from BLUU

Stewardship and Development at General Assembly

News bits from 24 Farnsworth

Opening Words

A note from the Rev. Lauren Smith:

In Just-spring, the world is mud luscious and puddle wonderful….

That’s one of my favorite images from a poem by e.e. cummings to which I have returned often over the years.

It describes perfectly the state of my yard in Northern New England just now. It’s messy and wet, and the trees are just beginning to bud.

The gifts of the season have been a welcome antidote to the stresses of tax preparation in my house—the other rite of early spring in New Hampshire.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included changes that affected our family, and many of the individuals and families we serve in the UUA The process of sorting out the implications of the changes is messy—not unlike our sodden yard—but I have faith that time will bring greater clarity. 

Read more

In the meantime, we have prepared a resource for any of you that have personal questions, or wonder about the implications of the 2018 Tax Act for your congregation or organization. It is not meant to be financial advice, but we do hope it will help you get your bearings.

Please use it and share it—and let us know whether it was helpful to you. We, on the Stewardship and Development Team, are invested in doing our work in ways that advance and support your work as UU leaders and institutions.

Enjoy your spring!

In faith,

Rev. Lauren Smith
Director, Stewardship and Development

Rev. Lauren can be reached at

Charitable Giving and the 2017 "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"
  Jay Pacitti.

By Jay Pacitti, Legacy Gifts Officer

The UUA has received questions about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ("2017 Tax Act") and how it affects UU congregations and individuals as they being to feel its impact. We have created a memo that highlights some key changes to the tax code, suggests ways congregations and other UU entities may engage with donors in light of these changes, and lists resources for further education and reading.

The 2017 Tax Act made many sweeping changes. All tax rates (except the lowest) were decreased, the standard deduction nearly doubled, personal exemptions were eliminated, and certain itemized deductions were either capped or eliminated.

One thing that did not change is that contributions to charitable organizations may be still deducted by taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax returns.

Another significant change that will affect many congregations and religious professionals is that moving expenses reimbursed by an employer are no longer deductible, except under certain circumstances for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Read more

If those expenses are paid directly by an employer, they must be included in the income reported to the employee. This change will affect congregations and other UU entities who reimburse moving expenses to newly settled religious professionals—as well as the religious professionals themselves.

Change begets uncertainty and uncertainty sometimes begets anxiety. Congregations and other charitable institutions can help defuse that anxiety by sharing facts and working with donors to accommodate new forms of giving.

There are tax-savvy giving strategies that can still help many donors, including “bunching” donations, utilizing qualified charitable distributions from IRAs for donors 70½ and older, and making gifts of appreciated stock. Donors should consult with their tax advisors or other financial professionals about how these strategies can work for them.

The full article can be downloaded here (PDF). Questions should be directed to Jay Pacitti in the Office of Legacy Giving,

Updates from Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective
  BLUU logo

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective Sets Organizational Vision - published January 31, 2019

The Black Lives UU OC Board is proud to share our vision as an organization. Over the last four years we have developed a clear mission:

  • Expanding the power & capacity of Black UUs within our faith
  • Providing support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists.
  • Justice-making and liberation through our faith

We have also created a deeply personal set of working agreements which lay out the values we bring into this work together - we invite you to read those working agreements here.

As we continue to grow and develop, we get clearer about our role in our faith and in a broader movement for justice and liberation for Black people. Toward this end of continuing clarity, at the winter 2018 BLUU Board Retreat we tackled the question of what a vision for this unique organization should be.

Today we share that vision with you because it is and has already been a guiding light in our work since we created it together in December:

“BLUU harnesses love’s power to combat oppression and foster healing as a spiritual and political imperative. We know the power of love to be life changing, inclusive, relational, uncomfortable, unconditional and without end.”

Spring 2019 Babies & Bailouts: End Money Bail Live Panel Watch Parties and Donation Drives

UPDATE - the Babies & Bailouts webinar from April 28 can be viewed on the Black Lives of UU Youtube channel. Donations to the National Bail Out can be made here.

Article from 4/25/19 is below:

Babies & Bailouts is a chance for communities to come together to learn more about the money bail system and also gather much needed baby supplies for women and families being impacted by mass incarceration.

BLUU Community organizers will host Babies & Bailouts “End Money Bail Facebook Live Panel” Watch Party + Donation Drives in their local community. The End Money Bail Panel will be streamed live on BLUU’s Facebook page and website and feature a diverse range of voices active in the fight to change the money bail system.

Read more

This campaign will include a facilitated post-panel discussion & donation drive where funds for a regional bailout and/or items for a local partner organization that supports women and families will be collected. You can donate online here.

This form is for anyone who wants to host a Babies & Bailouts Watch Party & Donation Drive in their local areas on Sunday April 28th or soon thereafter. This will be an opportunity for folks to come together and learn about the cash bail system and it's impact on pregnant people and caregivers. You will be provided with an End Money Bail primer with discussion questions to have an in-person discussion following the panel.

Important: anyone can host a watch party - this is a solidarity action open for white, non-black people of color. You do not need to be a UU to host a watch party.

After you sign up to host a watch party, we will connect you to a #BLUUMicro30 regional team if you aren’t already a part of one. #BLUUMicro30 Regional Leads support you in hosting a successful watch party.

We hope that you will join us for this groundbreaking project documenting our history for the future.

Sign up now to participate, and visit for the latest updates.

Stewardship and Development at General Assembly 2019

At General Assembly in Spokane, WA, your UUA Stewardship and Development staff have several opportunities planned for learning and collaboration. 

GA regulars should note the changes to the schedule this year. According to UU World, business sessions have been scaled back to just four hours so there is space for thirteen hours of thematic presentations and workships.

While opening and closing ceremonies will help attendees enter and exit as one body, the first and last thematic program blocks will provide for role-based conversations and trainings. Having attendees start and end with the same group gives some continuity, and offers role-relevant content to utilize in their unique context. There is one Stewardship and Development-led role-based track as well as one workshop.

Read More

Role-based Track:

Stewardship: Where Our Resources, Values, and Integrity Meet

Stewardship teams are encouraged to come explore the spirituality of stewardship, trust as the foundation of a generous culture, and how we can empower the alignment of our resources and our highest values. We will have ample time for sharing of congregational best practices.

Led by Rev. Lauren Smith, Director of Stewardship and Development, UUA; Rev. Vail Weller, Director of Congregational Giving, UUA; and Connie Goodbread, Acting Co-lead, UUA Southern Region

Thursday, June 20, 2019 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2019 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM


Unconscious Bias: A Roadblock to Fundraising Success

Preferences can become “biases,” a tendency to make decisions based on what we believe will happen. These affect our fundraising success. Participants come away with an increased capacity to recognize how unconscious bias works in their individual and congregational lives as they gain tools to shift their fundraising practices.

Led by Woullard Lett, Acting Lead, New England Region, UUA; Elizabeth Ann Terry, Congregational Giving Specialist, UUA; and Halcyon Westall, Project Manager, Faithify, UUA.

Scheduled for Saturday, June 22 from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. More information on Facebook.

For more information about General Assembly, please visit

News from 24 Farnsworth 

To stay updated on these and other UUA news stories, please visit or follow the UUA on Facebook or Twitter.

   Logo reads, "Wake Now Our Vision: Collaborative Campaign Legacy Challenge"

Legacy Challenge is Now Complete

Thank you for being a part of the Wake Now Our Vision (WNOV) Collaborative Campaign Legacy Challenge.

The Legacy Challenge will strengthen the future of Unitarian Universalism through legacy giving. Your legacy gifts support our institutions and congregations in bringing people together as we work toward a world with more love and justice.

The generous Legacy Challenge grant from the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock has been completely allocated at this time.

While the matching aspect of the Legacy Challenge is at an end, we encourage you to visit for more resources on the many ways you can transform the future of Unitarian Universalism through legacy giving.

Latest from the Commission on Institutional Change

Recent updates from the Commission include "The Joy in the Spiritual Work" by member Mary Byron:

"My UU faith has been an important part of the spiritual journey of my life. I believe in our principles and our way of expressing them publicly, advocating for the world of justice, equity and compassion we know is possible. And we know this world is not yet here which calls us into doing the work that is needed to create it..." Read the rest here.

Appointed in 2017, Commission on Institutional Change was given a charge by the UUA Board of Trustees to conduct an audit of white privilege and the structure of power within Unitarian Universalism, and analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA.

Matching Gift Challenge Opportunity - extended through May 31

Gifts to Friends of the UUA now through the end of May will be matched dollar-for-dollar, thanks to a generous grant from the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock. You can make a gift online here, or see the letter arriving in your mailbox soon!

Seasons of Giving is the quarterly e-newsletter from the UUA's Stewardship and Development Office. Questions should be directed to Suzanne Murray at or (617) 948-4392.