Ethical Society of Austin
We are continuing to enjoy our new home in central Austin. It has served us well in our three major goals: 1) to increase membership growth; 2) to teach ethics to children through a Sunday School Program, and 3) to strengthen membership relationships through social activities.
Our membership has grown with the addition of seven new members over the past two quarters. We are also encouraged by the number of new and repeat visitors that have been attending our Platforms. In part, this can be contributed to our advertising team, lead by Adam Gravois, extending the reach of our advertising audience from local paper ads to Facebook. The increase in attendance is also a reflection of the exciting speakers the program committee has selected this year, both in house and out! In response to the Board’s concern over retention of new members, Hugh Taft-Morales will be conducting a workshop to address these issues during his visit to Austin in April.
Our newly established Sunday School is also growing, with three or four children attending on a regular basis. Board member Rebecca Fisher has committed an extensive amount of time and energy into hiring/supporting our Sunday School teacher, Brittney Benton. We are attempting to establish a broader commitment to the children by requesting adult “aides” to volunteer to assist Brittney as her class size increases. It was such a joy to have our Sunday School children participate in our Winter Solstice Ceremony this past year!
Our effort to accomplish our third goal of increasing connectedness among our members has been made possible by holding a Movie and Game night in our new space during alternating months. Between 8 and 10 members have been attending on a regular basis. Of course, relationships have also grown through our social action endeavors, including serving dinners at Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and making life-changing decisions regarding the reinvestment of our KIVA funds. We also have the luxury of not only holding our Board and team meetings in our new premises, but have been able to offer our space to community support groups (e.g. PFLAG).
On the negative side, we have found the rental expenses are too rich for our meager budget, causing us to rely heavily on the principle, as well as the interest, of our endowment. We are currently reexamining our rental space options, weighing the pros & cons of a move to a Sunday only rental unit. Though we have experienced a small increase in membership, the increase has not been reflected in contributions. [Note—This is neither surprising nor unique, given the state of the U.S. economy at the moment.—Ed.]
Susan O’Dell, President
Ethical Society of Austin