Treasurer's 2020 Annual Meeting Financial Report

February 04, 2020


by Paul W. Thompson, Treasurer



As I finish my 8th year as our treasurer, I’d like to extend my thanks to the Wardens, the Chapter, the Assistant Treasurer, the Finance Commission, the members of the Investment Committee, the Audit Committee, the Count Ministry, the Ushers, and to the Staff. We all work on this together. I thank you.

I turn your attention to the Financial Reports in your binder. These represent unaudited results, and certain post-close, pre-audit adjustments have not yet been made. Speaking of audits, our audit occurs in late spring and summer each year. We received a clean report from our auditors for 2018, and we expect another clean audit for 2019. But please remember that these are preliminary numbers.  

I have three broad topics I would like to touch on today: Operations, Investments, and Restricted Funds.


The operating financial results for 2019 are astonishing.

Pledges: We had astounding growth in “pledges pledged” for 2019 compared to the prior year, and when compared to the past several years. We even pledged more than we budgeted, for the first time in many years ($664K vs. $630K). The great news is that most of those pledges were fulfilled (99.1% of the budgeted amount, and 94% of the pledged amount). The figure for “pledges fulfilled,” $624,454, is the highest level of pledge giving that I am aware of, ever. This is thrilling, and you all are to be congratulated. To me, pledge fulfillment is the true hallmark of a dynamic, committed congregation.

Offerings: We booked the highest figure I can remember for offerings during 2019, $130,312. Much of that came at year-end, some due to generous folks giving above and beyond their pledge amount! Frequently this took the form of appreciated stock—you can please do that at any time! It’s quite easy to get the routing information from Canon Robert Black, and you avoid capital gains taxes—please check with your tax attorney, but that is my understanding.

Line-item operating expenses on our $1.6M budget were slightly over budget for the year, by $21,206 or 1.3%. Staff did a tremendous job of spending according to plan this year.  “Invite Welcome Connect” was an overage from budget of $8,463, because it wasn’t budgeted at all! The idea for it emerged after the budget was created and approved, but Chapter embraced it and I think we all are thrilled at how it unfolded. In a related item, Coffee Hour expenses doubled this year, by $8,020. Chapter also approved a one-time $10,000 donation to the Cathedral Counseling Center. Those three line items alone account for more than the variance from budget.

Effect of the Orville Taylor Fund for Operational Support on our Operating Budget:
Remember that this is a $1.3 million bequest that came to us entirely unexpectedly in 2015, from the will of a parishioner who passed away in 1969. 2017 was the year we decided to use Mr. Taylor’s bequest in a three-year plan of operational support, beginning in 2018. So 2019 was the second year of that three-year plan, which is designed to help cover the gap between our typical sources of income and our operating expenses.

We spent less of it that we budgeted (due mainly to the year-end surge of offerings). The Taylor Fund was expected to provide us with just under $393K in operational support, but we needed only $374,545. And there is plenty left for 2020, the third year in this plan. There is $531,570 remaining, but we are budgeted to need only $453,231.

During the last two years, what have we been able to do that we could not have done (and probably would not have tried) without this true gift from heaven? I believe that the Taylor Fund has allowed us to create three new staff positions, which have resulted in considerable parish growth, those being:

  • Curate -- who has fostered significant growth in Young Adult Ministry, Meals Ministry, and Summer in the City
  • Director of Children's Ministries -- who has fostered significant and unprecedented growth in the Sunday School
  • Organ Scholar -- without whom we could not have created the new Chorister and Junior Chorister programs

Also, thanks to the Taylor Fund, we have been able to expand our communications output; develop new Adult Faith Formation programs like the parish retreat; and restore our full common mission share to the Diocese, which was $196,000 in 2019 and is $215,000 in 2020. It is my understanding that we are one of only a handful of parishes in the diocese that pay their full common mission share. 

2020 Operating Budget:
Our budget for 2020 was recommended by the Finance Commission and approved by the Chapter at a level of $1,755,231, an increase of 8.6% over the 2019 budget and 7.2% over 2019’s unaudited results. We are relying on an increase in pledge giving and the $80K increase in utilization of the Taylor Fund to pay for this new year’s activities.

Effect of Taylor Fund:
What is the effect of the Taylor Fund for 2020? In addition to being able to sustain the areas I just mentioned for this year, the additional Taylor dollars that we will need will provide for three key areas of program growth and change. These are:

First of all, the new Youth Ministry has been discussed today and is already underway. It has received a line item budget of $15,000.

Secondly, staff Sabbaticals are scheduled to begin on a staggered basis, with the Sub-Dean receiving Sabbatical time this year. These are important for targeted staff development needs as well as for staff recruitment and retention. Note that several staff will have these in subsequent years, and in future budgets we will anticipate these needs, in order to smooth the budgetary impact.

And third, there is a new plan in place regarding our maintenance, security, office space and building reception needs, spearheaded and now implemented by Canon Black, our Sextons and Front Desk staff. As part of a long-range plan developed in coordination with the Diocese, our costs in these areas will rise by around $45,000 this year, but St. James Cathedral will have both greater and more flexible direct control over the ways we utilize these buildings; and, the types of costs that we pay to individuals, service firms and the Diocese will be based more directly on actual costs than in years past. I don’t have time today to fully explain the evolution of the plan we’ve adopted, but I’m sure you’ll agree that a plan that puts us more in control of our physical space and more in touch with direct (vs. indirect) costs represents good non-profit management and sound operational risk management practices. And, as a result of these changes, Canon Henry Leach is now listed on the back of every Sunday bulletin!


The Investment report in the binder was written by Alan Gunn. The Taylor Fund that I’ve mentioned is part of our investments at Vanguard.

Vanguard investment update:  
It was a great year for our investments held by Vanguard. Invested assets placed in four exchange-traded funds grew by an annual Rate of Return of 21.6%, which is fantastic for a diversified portfolio with an eye toward management of risk. Even after $700K in draws to cover our cash needs, our balance at Vanguard rose from $5.4M last January to $5.8M at year end.

Because our investments are held mostly in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)1, Chapter voted at mid-year to consolidate the legwork of its investment oversight function within the Finance Commission, which I chair as Treasurer. And it created the position of Investment Officer, which Alan Gunn agreed to fill. The role of the Investment Committee as a working committee, meeting with investment managers and reviewing individual stocks as in former years , is obsolete now. The Finance Commission now reviews investment results, investment cash flows, risk management, trends in investment instruments, etc., alongside its other duties regarding budgeting, accounting, banking, revenue and cost analysis, audit interaction and advice to staff and treasurer. I do thank those parishioners who volunteered their time and expertise to the evolving nature of the Investment Committee over these many years.


Bequests as Restricted Funds:
The Taylor Fund is a Chapter-designated restricted fund, as it came to us with no donor restrictions. But the largest fund in our list of restricted funds, showing $4.3M at year-end, is the Sarah Kitchen Otis Fund, dating from 1973.  If you are familiar with this fund, you realize that this figure is much larger than we have shown in prior years. This is because of a change in General Ledger treatment of the Otis Fund due to a recommendation from our audit firm.

The auditors did extensive research into this issue at our request, and came back with a recommendation accepted by the Chapter. We now treat these dollars as “Beneficial Interest in a Trust,” which is a new term for us.

We control some of this permanently restricted gift and its derived yield, but so does the Diocese. That’s been true for decades. We are now recording all of the portions of the fund in a unified way on our balance sheet, without any change in where the investments are housed or who directs them. There is about $1.5 million that we control, and about $2.8 million that the Diocese controls, all for our exclusive use. In prior years, the old methodology was discussed in a footnote to our audit report, but it is now an integral part of our General Ledger. That is why the totals you will see are higher than they were in past years.

Other Bequests:
Three of our beloved friends and long-time parish members died recently and left bequests to the Cathedral which they desired to be in perpetuity: Elsa Vaintzettel, Canon Miriam Hoover and Chuck Hamilton. You see their names on the list as well.

These three recent bequests include two with program area restrictions, and two that are expected to have additional gifts arrive in the future. These are all invested not with Vanguard, but with the Diocesan Foundation, for ease of tracking and for safe, long-term growth. These funds total about $210K. We did take $3,000 from the Vaintzettel Fund into operations this year, as budgeted. We will take $4,500 in 2020.

Restricted Funds for Off-Budget Program Activities:
These include Summer in the City, Choir Tours, Treble Festival, Flowers for Worship, Cathedral Arts, Charitable Collections, and New Employee Searches.

Restricted Funds for Capital Expenditures:
There are no capital expenditures are in the Operating Budget. These are handled through restricted funds which include Meal Ministry, Children’s Choir, Interior Fund (for building furnishings), Memorials Fund (for the altar guild and acolytes), Columbarium and Memorial Garden, and Deanery Renovation.

Restricted Funds for Capital Campaign Planning:
We have two funds that we have used during the planning phase of a possible capital project: Capital Consultation and Planning, and New Organ.

Restricted Funds for Capital Project:
New in 2019 were accounts set up for the upcoming Capital Project. We have already received $50,000 for the Project, which has earned $665 in interest from short-term bond investment through Vanguard, and which will be used for the Project as well. 


An exchange-traded fund is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, commodities, or bonds and generally operates with an arbitrage mechanism designed to keep it trading close to its net asset value, although deviations can occasionally occur.

Author: Robert Black