Noteworthy Decisions from the October 2016 Board of Trustees Meeting
By Judy Van Cleave, Trustee, Secretary, Urantia Foundation, Idaho, United States
1. Community Relations
Urantia Foundation opened up its Chicago headquarters to leaders from Urantia Association International and the Urantia Book Fellowship to discuss issues of organizational unity. While Urantia Foundation has a policy not to interfere in the internal affairs of social groups, we are “all in” for social harmony and loving relationships between those working to advance the purposes of the Urantia Revelation.
A joint press release stated: “On October 3-5, 2016, representatives from the Association and the Fellowship met in Chicago to consider organizational unity. An atmosphere of goodwill prevailed throughout our time together. All of us wholeheartedly agreed that we desire unity. A unity proposal was drafted and will shortly be submitted to both organizations. Further information will be shared as available. We thank Urantia Foundation for hosting our unity meeting. As always, we felt so welcome, well fed, and looked after in mind, body and spirit. And finally, our heartfelt appreciation goes to all for your prayers and support.”
Book sales are up 15% for the year. Spanish and Portuguese book sales have been very strong, but English sales have been slightly down. We are hopeful that sales will be positive by year’s end. Seeding the actual book, physically and digitally, into the world remains a top priority at Urantia Foundation.
The first publication from Urantia Foundation’s imprint label, Urantia Press, is The Parables of Jesus―Complete Teachings from The Urantia Book. Sales of this book started off with excellent sales and should help reacquaint bookstores and readers with these beautiful stories from The Urantia Book. Nearly 500 books were sold in the first month. This book is a perfect gift to give others during the upcoming holiday season. Once you buy it, please write a review. While you are at it, if you haven’t written one already, please write a positive review of The Urantia Book itself.
To write a review of the parable book visit: http://amzn.to/2e9qwaa.
To write a review of The Urantia Book visit: http://amzn.to/2ewj8US.
The 2016 fiscal year continues to be a difficult fundraising year. Last year there were extraordinary gifts of $204,000. If these donations are deducted from last year’s amount raised, $58,000 will need to be made up. We have kept our expenses as low as possible, but donations are currently behind expenses.
A handful of generous donors will contribute $250,000 if we can raise the same amount by December 31, 2016. This is a “must raise” because of this financially challenging year. We need the winter fundraising match to come in strong and move forward to greater service in 2017. This is an opportunity to double your donation, dollar for dollar, and to support one of the most important projects on earth.
Although we have reached significant milestones over the past years, much remains to be done. The text of The Urantia Book has been preserved inviolate, and its teachings have spread across diverse geographies and cultures. There are fourteen translations in print, sixteen at www.urantia.org, and more on the way. You can find Urantia Books and study groups around the globe. But today’s resources are insufficient to meet the needs of an expanding international readership.
Please act now. Helping to seed the Urantia Revelation is one of the greatest gifts you can make to uplift our world. Please click here to donate: http://www.urantia.org/donate/online-donations. Thank you!
4. Board Goals and Strategies
The board reviewed goals and strategies suggested as priorities over the next five years. Discussion will continue to ensure that the proposed goals and strategies to accomplish them are aligned with our vison, mission, and values.
5. Sherry Layton Joins As a New Associate Trustee
The Board of Trustees appointed Sherry Layton as an associate trustee to serve the first of two possible three-year terms. Sherry has a long history of service to the movement and an outstanding career in non-profit organizations.
6. The 2017 Budget
The board passed an operating expense budget for 2017 that shows a 9.5% increase above 2016 but only 3.2% above 2014. For the last few years we have held our expenses basically flat while simultaneously increasing program activities. In 2017 we want to increase translation work, outreach, book programs, website improvement, and education. Realizing the difficulty in fundraising, we will watch the income very closely to make sure it covers operating expenses. While there are a number of important programs that need funding in 2017 we will remain fiscally careful as the year progresses to make sure we do not outspend our income.
7. Improvement of urantia.org in 2017
During the last few years, traffic patterns across the internet and to Urantia Foundation’s website have changed. There has been—especially among young people—a dramatic switch from visiting websites via computers to visiting sites from mobile devices. Mobile visits are now nearly 50% of all traffic to urantia.org. While the Foundation’s site is somewhat mobile friendly, it is a long way from being very mobile friendly. The challenges to transform the site to accommodate the increasing mobile traffic are twofold: first, the Foundation’s site is translated into 16 languages, and second, the combination of cost and digital-video expertise stretches the Foundation’s capabilities. Nevertheless, this must happen. Urantia.org is the most visited Urantia website in the world and needs to stay current. Money was allocated in the 2017 budget to improve the site.
The board adopted a resolution to form an ad hoc committee to redesign the website that includes Richard Jernigan, Víctor García-Bory, Tamara Strumfeld, Lu Schanfarber, and Angie Thurston.
Back row: Chris Wood, Michael Challis, Share Beasley, Steve Dreirer
Front row: Merindi Belarski, Geoff Theiss, John Hales, Susan Owen, Paula Thompson
Audio Urantia Book
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Urantia Foundation History