Investing in Liberal Religious Outreach

My name is Thomas Earthman. The I Am UU project is my ministry. I am not an ordained minister. I’m not trained to do the work of a parish minister. I do have, as the UUA puts it, “gifts to share with [my] faith community and the wider world.” My commitment to community ministry has been acknowledged with admission in the Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries.

I came into this project around 7 years ago with computer skills and the ability to write. I’ve picked up a great many other skills “on the job”; skills that include community management, graphic design, a lot of information on theology and Unitarian Universalist history, and the ever-changing needs of Facebook and social media. These are specialized skills that are not widely useful and so not taught or written about.

Lay-led does not mean unprofessional.

These are skills that took time to develop. They take time to use for the benefit of Unitarian Universalism. They are not skills many people have, and no one is more prolific in creating Unitarian Universalist content for you to share and enjoy. I don’t believe any one person is working harder to make Unitarian Universalism visible on our terms; in ways that show the best of what we offer to the world. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 5 years.

Like a lay-led congregation, this project still has expenses and requires a huge investment of time and talent. I have been lucky to have some great content offered up by people who value what we are building. It still takes a lot of work to create the art, curate the links and the quotes and manage the comments and emails for the project. Additionally, I have committed to several hours a week in personal study to be better at the job. From online classes to in-person workshops and lots of reading, I am giving so much of myself to this project because it fills a need, and I don’t feel anyone else is doing it as well. It has become a responsibility, and one I take seriously.

You are already a vital part of this project.

You all are already part of this project by liking and sharing posts and giving me your feedback. The community has shaped what I am creating, and it is better because of the diversity of the community. Since the beginning of December, we have reached no fewer than 10,000 people a day, and almost 24,000 on Monday alone. This work matters. We make Unitarian Universalism easy to understand and share, and that means that people are learning about us for the first time every day.

We need just a little more, if you can do it.

Unitarian Universalism does not have a built-in way to fund community ministry. Those who want to be ministers outside of a congregation either need to partner with a congregation that has a huge budget or to sign up to a hospital or residential facility as a chaplain. Those are amazing callings, but they do not apply to the work being done here. More like PBS, we put out the work for the world to see, hoping that funding will follow. We need you, our audience, help fund our work.

We are asking you to make a year-end contribution to the I Am UU project. I need your help to keep going. The project needs you to free my time for the service of Unitarian Universalism. Help make it possible for me to focus on this work. I need you to invest in outreach and art. We need to know that what we do matters in real terms. I am asking you to invest in growing Unitarian Universalism, not just in terms of numbers but in its engagement in the world and the interfaith community. We hope that you see this project as something worth supporting.

 We need a small investment from a lot of people.

What we need are a lot of people contributing a small amount; We have nearly 11 thousand followers on Facebook, and if we could get just $4 each on average, we could fully fund the whole project for the year. We are asking: the I Am UU project is worth 50¢ a month to you?  Maybe even 75¢? If so, then you can make a huge difference in our ability to create more content, better content, and to promote UU values by supporting the worth of the person doing all of this work. We’ve set up a Faithify campaign to take your one-time contributions. (It launches Wednesday, so come back for an update with the link!) 75¢ a month is a one-time contribution of just $9! If a few hundred people made that pledge, we’d be able to fund a year of full-time employment!

OR: Give Sustainability

If this work is worth a whole number of dollars, we ask you to pledge a small, sustainable amount to our Patreon campaign. With nearly 10,000 Facebook fans, it wouldn’t take a large percentage pledging $2 or $3 a month to make this project infinitely sustainable. You can alter, suspend, or cancel your pledge at any time, and you will get extended access to me and the workings of the project as well as membership in the deeper community if you so desire. Only a few hundred more dollars would mean that I can keep doing this part-time for the foreseeable future; there are artists making a living on Patreon. There are ministries and bloggers talking about religion making thousands a month. I believe that this community could raise 3,000 or more a month to fully fund this project fully and make this a true profession.

We really do need community support. I welcome your comments and constructive feedback. As always, I am grateful for the reach and impact I have; it exists because you all have given me your trust. It is an honor.

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