On March 4 at 1pm SLT after the service copious quantities of cake were provided by Cady. The Leadership Team met with members of the community to share information about what is happening in our ministry and to listen to comments, suggestions and questions. I shared some details which are reproduced below and are also available at the moment in world.
We have two issues: to raise the tier for May this year and to build a sustainable model of fund raising for the future. We are not on our own in struggling financially since the non-profit reduction in tier was discontinued in 2010. We managed to raise the money we needed to pay the 2011 tier due to some very large individual donations. We can’t rely on that each year.
Our budget is made up of: our tier, payment for the Leadership Team discussion forum, allowance for items to be bought for the sim, provision for inflation of prices, the gathering of some extra income to prevent us living from hand-to-mouth. The discussion forum is paid for each month as a donation. The next essential is the tier. If we can’t pay it, we lose the sim.
We have currently raised $2659 and need $3540 by the end of May to pay our tier. So we need approximately $880 more. Payment via Paypal has increased and may generate around $400 in the two months but that still needs $480 (approximately L$ 125,000) raising in world, about L$60,000 each month. In February we only raised L$30,000.
If we assume a slight increase in tier next year we can work on a figure of $70 (L$18200) a week needing to be generated just to pay the tier, nothing else. We can break that down as:
7 people paying $10 (L$2600) a week
10 people paying $7 (L$1820) a week
14 people paying $5 (L$1300) a week
20 people paying $3.50 (L$910) a week
28 people paying $2.50 (L$650) a week
40 people paying $1.75 (L$455) a week
Obviously not everyone can pay even a small amount. However, some of our members would need to pay something if we are to survive in our current form. I know some are very generous indeed and we are very grateful to all who help us. All we can do is ask you to prayerfully consider what you might be able to give to support this ministry. If you have fundraising ideas we would like to hear them.
We receive a lot of positive feedback about what we do here. I know that all the Leadership Team and the members of the community are committed to our ministry. If God wants us to continue there will be a way forward and together we can find it.
We hope to have more items in our Marketplace. If you are creative and would be prepared to sell items and make a donation to our ministry, this would be very helpful.
On the suggestion of a community member, we are going to offer the opportunity to remember loved ones on a memorial plaque. We hope to arrange the system so that you can pay the fee (L$1000 a month) and insert the information yourself. Cady is working on this now. The plaques will be put in the Cathedral opposite the Joseph Chapel and in the Meditation Garden.
We are exploring the possibility of having performers come to the sim. If you know of anyone suitable, do let us know.
We would also like to spend more time together socially. We really enjoyed visiting different places during the Posada in December. On Saturday March 10 we have a chance to visit an art gallery together. We will gather here at 2pm and then go for the visit. I shall also send out a notecard with details. Would you be prepared to take some of us to your favourite places in SL? Or would you like to throw your home open for others to come and visit and chat? Please do let us know.
Epiphany Island is often visited. It would be wonderful if any visitor could always find someone here to welcome them. The task is not onerous. It simply needs people to have some familiarity with the sim and what we offer. Please consider volunteering. There is a notecard with details on it if you would like to ask for one.
If you want to volunteer in any other capacity, do let us know.
Patapon Monday took a sabbatical and has decided not to return to the Team because of RL commitments. We’re grateful that she continues to support our ministry where she can. Cady is now looking after the Treasurer role as well as being Church Warden.
The Leadership Team is low on numbers and should be increased at some point in the future. Before we do that, we are trying to clarify the roles within it.
We plan to continue with services as they are now plus special ones where appropriate for the season or for any occasion such as a healing service. We are happy to consider new ideas of course.
Spreading the word:
We have an information kiosk available which you can place on your land if you would like to let visitors know about Epiphany Island.
Questions for you:
The numbers attending services here rose substantially while we were redesigning the Cathedral but have dropped a little now. Have you any suggestions as to why that might be?
Do you think we send out too many notices each week? Response: The number sent out seems ok.
What would you like us to do/provide that we don’t now?
Over to you:
Questions and comments welcome.
Below is an overview of the conversation which followed:
Question: What has happened to the blog? Those who read it miss seeing new items and being able to keep up to date with what’s going on.
Response: Cady continues to update the changing information about services every week. Helene apologised for not posting sermons and updates on our ministry regularly. She will work at rectifying that. (There were no suggestions for anything else on the blog but anyone is welcome to contribute.)
Question: Do we get any income in world apart from donations?
Response: We have donations and the Marketplace on the sim. It was pointed out that in world commerce is declining in favour of SL Marketplace. We have no support from outside agencies, RL church. The Leadership Team are not paid for their efforts .. everyone’s time and talents are freely given.
Question: Could we raise anything by offering land to rent?
Response: To keep the sim safe we restrict scripts which could be a problem for anyone who rented land here. We have talked about sharing our sim with others. There is plenty of room, both times and spaces, for other ministries to use the facilities we provide. There have been some discussions with others but none has so far borne fruit.
Question: Is it possible to cut back on the amount of land we own here to reduce the amount of the fees owed?
Response: If we have less than a full sim, we lose a certain level of control over what we do with the land. Each sim can hold 40+ avatars. If we half a sim, we might have problems with busy neighbours etc. It would be possible to rent land instead of owning a sim but we would have less control over the land.
Suggestions for activities/fundraising:
A weekly open air market
Easter egg hunt which could be promoted. (We’ve had one in the past).
A place on the blog for further suggestions.
Something for April Fools Day – booby trap the sim, bubbles in all the water
A birthday celebration with fireworks as we had last year.
Hijack avatars and turn them into angels.
Have a Dalek day.
Suggestion: Our financial position could be announced every two weeks after the services. So people may really get a sense of how this ministry is at risk financially.
Response: That would make more work for Cady though it could be done. Helene usually says the in world donation % should be twice the number of the day of the month so it’s easy to see our financial position at a glance. Attention could be drawn to this.
Suggestion: It sounds like finding some more people to share the load is going to be a priority.
Response: Ideally we need more people but people are busy in RL of course. Keeping a ministry like this going is hard work.
Question: How many hours a week do you each spend on it?
Response: It’s hard to quantify.. Helene’s hours are between 10 and 20 a week. There is always something that needs doing.
Question: And do you divvy up the workload and time between you or is it all done ad hoc?
Response: We each have responsibilities like leading Bible studies, services. Cady looks after the sim and now the finances. There are discussions which we are all part of. We can end up in pastoral conversations or praying with people (Comment: all crucial parts of the ministry.) So we have behind the scenes stuff and in world things, some seen some hidden. Helene spends time putting services together. Cady does all manner of things and no one sees it going on, but sees the results. (Comment: Iceberg stuff.) Although we are in a different situation from RL, certain tasks are necessary to keep us functioning and some stuff is integral to our ministry as Christians, prayer, listening etc.
Comment: Can I just say thanks for all the effort everyone is putting in; I for one, really have appreciated this place.
Comment: The thing is, there’s something very worthwhile going on here
Question from Helene: Do you think meetings of this sort are useful?
Responses from community: Definitely. I think it’s very helpful to hear from you guys. Helps to give some sense of it as a functioning community, not just a church. (Helene: We don’t want anyone to think we are setting ourselves apart, secretive. We are just part of the community like everyone else. We happen at the moment to be on the Leadership Team.) And it helps to make one feel more involved and less of a parasite. Otherwise it becomes a little like school – if you were spoken to by the headmaster, you were in trouble. (Able: I think it helps if community members realise we do listen and try and represent your views on LT.) Oh I know THAT, but we don’t know what you do.
Question from Helene: Would a monthly meeting be about the right frequency?
Response: Monthly seems about right.
Comment: Thanks for hosting this, it’s been very insightful.
Comment: One of the information notecards is out of date.
Response: All our notecards need to be checked regularly; that’s the trouble with information, it goes out of date. It’s a big job to keep all this up to date – more hidden work of course – so many details to keep track of. It’s good if you tell us of any mistakes.
Question: Does the LT have someone who does clerical stuff like that?
Response: Cady would normally do that but we might note the changes needed as a group. If we change the info we usually discuss it if it’s major changes. (Comment: It’s the sort of thing that it helps if people just generally check. With small things like that, it shouldn’t be one person’s job to go and check EVERYTHING.) If we always think someone else has done it, that can lead to no one doing it but it could be that we could ask another LT member to check, or we just need to remember to update whenever personnel changes. We did so much work rearranging the info that I think we forgot it would still need changing.
Question: How many welcomers do we need?
Response: As many as possible; we have 24/7 to cover. If people find themselves welcomed they are more likely to return.
Comment: It doesn’t help if we’re all sat round chatting like a clique.
Comment: But even if you are gathered as a group, you’re pretty good at welcoming people who appear, in my experience.
Comment: It’s not a huge job, I spend a sizable amount of time lurking here while studying, or sorting my inventory, etc.
We would be glad for the conversation to continue here with any comments you may have.