I am putting this post up on my personal blog, rather than the IAmUU.net blog, because this isn’t really about the I Am UU project, except that it is, because it decides whether and how that project can continue. That is probably confusing to some of you, but I need to lay out some facts in order to clear it up.
I started the I Am UU project in 2010 because I was a stay-at-home care giver who was using social media as my social outlet. I had gotten involved with the local UU congregation and my Facebook feed was starting to fill up with UU links and posts. I was told I was getting “too churchy” for some of my friends. So, I dove into social media a little deeper, and I started a page where I could continue to share my UU links and thoughts with the people who opted in for them. In 2010, I never would have believed that 4,000 people would ever opt in to see my posts about Unitarian Universalism.
It certainly didn’t happen all at once. Even now, there are days when more people click “unlike” than “like”, and the net count goes down just a little. On the other hand, there have been amazing days when 70 people joined the community because their friends invited them.
There are now several volunteers who help me because they believe in the mission of the project. There are 17 people who have pledged cash every month to make sure that I can cover the expenses of the project, as it is now. The office supplies, PO Box,and other expenses are covered by those supporters, leaving enough for occasional paid Facebook promotion.
There are dozens of congregations who share my writing and digital art with their own communities. It hasn’t happened all at once, but it has become a ministry that really helps people, and I am honored.
My desire is to be able to keep learning, to grow as the work is growing and continue to provide more and better resources. For that to happen, I need to be able to attend workshops, training sessions, maybe some classes on graphic or website deign, and eventually to get better software and equipment. I’d like to start with the UUA’s Renaissance Modules for Religious Educators, since religious education has become such an important part of what I do. With topics like “Philosophy of Religious Education”, “UU Identity”, and “Multicultural Religious Education”, I could both broaden and deepen the appeal of my work, and make Unitarian Universalism even easier to share with a broader population.
The problem is that as much as I love what this project has become, I am still just a volunteer. I spend 30 to 60 hours each week researching, designing, writing, and moderating the page. I have made this a full-time job, because it clearly serves a need. While I love what I am doing, I am not independently wealthy and cannot continue to give away my services indefinitely.
That being the case, I am looking into launching a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for training and travel expenses, as well as to offset my personal living expenses. This is entirely separate from the Partreon campaign, which funds the I Am UU project, paying for the expenses incurred directly from the operation of the project website, Facebook promotion, and subsidizing my rent for the office. The idea is that I will collect money directly from the people who feel served by my work, which puts off the trouble and expense of incorporating the I Am UU project and spending time and money on that instead of designs and new writing.
I welcome any thoughts you all have that will help me refine this campaign so that it reaches the people who can help and so that my commitments help the people who need this project the most.