Urantia Foundation Annual Report 2004

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From the President

The revelators bequeathed us an extraordinary task, global and epochal labours that will absorb readers of the teachings for generations and centuries. Do we have the dedication, the patience, the stamina? Let me be totally candid:Although Urantia Foundation has been active for over half a century, I believe that we have taken just the first few strides on the arduous trek that mainly lies ahead. During this extended quest of a millennium or more, theTrustees and staff of the Foundation will always welcome the assistance and companionship of other sincere students of the teachings.

As readers contemplate our current and future challenges, I believe we can benefit from a key insight of the Midwayer Commission’s:

Jesus chose to establish the kingdom of heaven in the hearts of mankind by natural, ordinary,difcult,and trying methods, just such procedures as his earth children must subsequently follow in their work of enlarging and extending that heavenly kingdom. [1521:1]

On a very personal level, this sentence has a special significance for me. If I apply it to the work of today and tomorrow, I conclude that I must consent to “natural” and “ordinary” and must also say yes to “difficult” and “trying.” Since all four words are surely a statement of fact, a faint and rather rueful smile seems appropriate and apt.

A Mighty Messenger tells us:

One of the most important lessons to be learned during your mortal career is teamwork.The spheres of perfection are manned by those who have mastered this art of working with other beings. Few are the duties in the universe for the lone servant. [312:1]

In the day-to-day activities of the Board of Trustees, our diversity of personal views and backgrounds makes us keenly aware of the need for practical cooperation and spiritual unity amidst significant differences of emphasis and approach. From our own experience and for many other reasons, we know that pursuit of the Father’s plan must not and cannot be limited to persons who share any single set of beliefs, perspectives, or organizational affiliations. We hope that readers throughout the world will pursue mutual goals by carrying out a wide range of positive projects, acting in the spirit of cooperation and teamwork that honours our joint destiny and the Father’s creative intent.

TheTrustees and staff are doing our best to honor these principles. I assure you that we have been laboring in the vineyard, not just sampling the fruit of the vine.

  • The audio version of The Urantia Book is now available in MP3 format and can be purchased from the Foundation’s online store (seven MP3 CDs for $39.95).
  • The Lithuanian translation was printed in August 2004.
  • The final editing of the Portuguese text is complete. Funds are needed to print the book that the Foundation staff is currently preparing for publication.
  • The Italian translation was completed in May and is likewise in need of funding as it is being formatted for publication.
  • The German translation is finished but needs final editing to ensure consistent wording and fully accurate spelling.The printing expenses for the German translation have already been raised.
  • The Romanian translation was published in 2004 on CD, but as a draft that needs final editing. The Estonian and Swedish translations are also nearing completion and may likewise be ready for formatting by the end of 2005.
  • Professional translators have made substantial progress on the Chinese translation, which we expect to be finished in 2006 or 2007.
  • Other translation projects are in earlier stages (Bulgarian, Czech, Farsi, Greek, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian, and Polish).
  • Another 10 or 15,000 copies of the Spanish translation will be printed in 2005. By the end of 2005, more than 120,000 copies of the Spanish translation will have been printed.

2004 was also a year during which the Foundation bade farewell to members of the staff who contributed many years of faithful and devoted service. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to former Executive Director Tonia Baney and former International Office Manager Mindy Williams. James Woodward (reader services),Víctor García Bory (Spanish desk), Steven Baney (distribution and maintenance), Sheila Schneider (executive assistant), and Marcia Lansu (accountant) also made important contributions. We hope and believe that in their work for the Foundation, all of these friends and former colleagues acquired a deep reservoir of spiritual satisfaction and achievement that will enhance and stimulate personal growth in this life and in the next.

We know that the ascendant life will be an often stormy sea of adaptations and advances. A Perfector of Wisdom tells us:

But long before reaching Havona, these ascendant children of time have learned to feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difculties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable. [291:3]

In much the same spirit, colleagues here on Urantia come and go, but the Foundation’s mission advances and endures. The Midwayer Commission urges:

Be not discouraged; human evolution is still in progress, and the revelation of God to the world, in and through Jesus, shall not fail. [2097:1]

With your help, my friends and fellow readers, it will certainly succeed. – Seppo Kanerva

Distribution

Urantia Foundation Distribution 2004

Sales and distribution of The Urantia Book in 2004 were slightly less than in 2003.The significant number of books placed in Latin American libraries included in 2003 figures make up much of the difference. Booksales in the United States were softer in 2004 than in previous years. The steady sales of The Urantia Book during this industry-wide downturn demonstrate the staying power of the Book within the book industry.

Even during a year of lackluster sales, Urantia Foundation had successes in its distribution efforts in 2004. At BookExpo America in Chicago we secured three additional distributors in Latin America. Coupled with the 3,200 books placed in libraries and other key centers of learning in Central and South America—a program generously funded by the Northern Light Urantia Association of Canada—the expanding distribution of the Spanish translation continued unabated in 2004. Urantia Foundation also secured a distributor in Lithuania for the recently printed Urantijos Knyga.

While 2004’s figures are certainly not exciting, in a world where new books come and go seemingly overnight, The Urantia Book’s demonstrated ability to sell consistently over the past fifty years is one of the Foundation’s greatest assets in our continuing efforts to disseminate the teachings.

Dissemination of the Teachings

Traffic to Urantia Foundation’s website www.urantia.org is nearing 100,000 unique accesses per month, which is a record. This is over 3,000 individual visits per day! Our Spanish, Russian, Finnish, French, and Portuguese pages, and especially the HTML versions of the corresponding translations, continue to be very popular, with almost as much traffic to the Spanish translation as to the English original. The Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS) was launched on Urantia Foundation’s website in 1999 and is now in its sixth year of presenting courses to the readership around the world. Over 800 readers have taken more than 50 courses.The UBIS is an educational-outreach project of the Foundation, directed and administrated by volunteers under an eight-member Board. Its staff of teacher-facilitators offers courses in English, Spanish, and French. Sixteen courses were presented in 2004: ten in English and three each in Spanish and French. The English teaching staff is growing. In 2004 four new teacher-facilitators were added increasing the teacher core group to ten.

Reader Services

Urantia Foundation’s Reader Services Department acts as an initial contact for readers, provides opportunities for social networking, and encourages individuals to form study groups around the world. Our staff is committed to providing services that enhance effective study of the teachings and provide the social bonding of friendship among readers. Our thanks go to the volunteers who already assist us in this service. However, we still need more key contacts around the world to enable a smoother and more efficient referral process. If participating in this rewarding opportunity for service interests you, please contact Urantia Foundation's Reader Services Department.

Finance and Administration

Fundraising

Urantia Foundation received over $500,000 in 2004 from almost 800 donors. Reflecting the general trend of non-profit giving for last year, we received less money from large donations than in previous years, but our overall number of donors increased. Donations to non-profit organizations are not expected to rise in 2005.

Urantia Foundation concentrated on “belt-tightening” in 2004 and will continue in this frugal mode in 2005. Book sales remained steady this past year, but because our net revenue from sales is small compared to our budget, an increase in sales in 2005, while helping us to fulfill our mission, will not significantly affect our bottom line. We rely on our donors to make our work possible.

Less than 6% of those on our active mailing list give us money in any given year.To help improve these numbers, in 2004 we began the “Dollar-A-Day Club” drive, with the goal of individually calling as many people on our list as possible and asking for at least a dollar a day towards our annual campaign. Our goal is to increase the number of donors per year to 2,500. If this many donors gave at the “dollar-a-day” level our annual expenses would be met.

The Matthew Project Committee, our long-term fundraising team, held a regional gathering in Santa Monica, California last May. Many new contacts and friends were made, and some old friendships rekindled. A gathering near Dallas,Texas is planned for May 2005.The Matthew Project Committee members donated over $248,000 to Urantia Foundation in 2004.

Finances

Due to restrictions placed by donors on their donations both in 2004 and in the past, and due to the lower levels of unrestricted giving this last year, the cash available to us for general operating expenses was reduced. To meet the challenge of a reduced cash flow, while continuing to translate, print, and distribute The Urantia Book around the world and in several languages, we reduced our staff by 50% and rented the 3rd floor of 533 Diversey.

While our 2004 finances have not yet been audited, we can report the following: Our total revenue from all sources, including net sales from books and net investment income as well as donations, was nearly $700,000. Our total expenditures were approximately $890,000.Therefore our net loss for 2004 was in the range of $190,000.This shortfall was covered by our investments.

Our 2005 budget proposes a trimmed-down enterprise, including continuing with a reduced staff, renting space at 533, and a sober fundraising projection. Excluding legal costs, which are funded separately, we are planning for a total income of $689,000 and expenses of $739,000 – a net loss of $50,000 that will be made up from investments. We are planning to reprint our English and Spanish books and print new editions in German, Italian, and Portuguese. Our on-going translation work is detailed elsewhere in this report; the most significant costs will be for the Chinese translation. We will continue our work in maintaining our trademarks and international copyrights, and in assisting individual students and reader groups with their studies of The Urantia Book through our reader service, free book, library placement, and internet outreach activities.

Fifty Years in Print

This October will mark the 50th anniversary of the first printing of The Urantia Book. Those still alive who remember that important event recount the excitement and anticipation of receiving their first book, or box of books, and sharing them with their family and friends. Until then they had to visit to 533 W. Diversey in Chicago to read the papers. Now they were free to share the Revelation with whomever they chose.

Many of those early readers expected the book to quickly become a bestseller, grabbing the attention of the world. One of these readers told me that she and her husband bought a box of ten to store in their basement, believing that the books would become so valuable that they could sell them in 20 years and use the proceeds to send their children to college. [A first edition in very good condition might sell for $1,000 today.] Books were sent to well known personalities and world government figures. The world was at peace for the first time in years, and the post-war economy was booming. Enthusiasm for the future was high.

Things did not work out exactly the way those early believers had hoped, of course. Sales of the books were slow at first. In one early year only 3 books were sold! Gradually distribution and sales increased, and the book was reprinted. Money needed to be raised for each printing, and translating began in earnest. The growth curve of sales of The Urantia Book has been more logarithmic than arithmetic, with the greatest increase in sales coming in the last few years. With the internet, exposure to the teachings of the book has a powerful new medium. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are discovering the book on-line, many in their native language. The process of spreading the teachings of the book to the world has turned out to be a pattern of mostly slow but steady growth, rather than sudden and spectacular success.

What will happen to The Urantia Book and its teachings in the next fifty years? The first generation of readers has mostly passed on now, and the second is nearing retirement age. Who will carry on the torch when we are no longer able? At Urantia Foundation we take these questions very seriously. Please consider joining us in 2005 as we work to ensure the future of the fifth epochal revelation. –Jay Peregrine

The Trustees and Staff of Urantia Foundation

Trustees:
Gard Jameson
Seppo Kanerva
Richard Keeler
Georges Michelson-Dupont
Mo Siegel

Associate Trustees:
Carolyn Kendall
Jane Ploetz
Nancy Shaffer
Kathleen Swadling

Trustees Emeriti:
Patricia Mundelius
Neal Waldrop

Foundation Staff:
Christine Bailey
Connie Gutierrez
Jay Peregrine
Matthew Viglione
Tamara Wood

Foundation Info

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