Several stories about the Cathedral’s fiscal year 2011 budget have appeared in the media recently. These stories, while generally balanced, were not accurate in every detail, and may have created a false impression of the Cathedral’s current financial situation. We offer this information to clarify any misconceptions that may have arisen.
What is the size of the Cathedral’s budget and staff in fiscal year 2011 (which begins July 1), and how do these figures compare with fiscal year 2010?
The Cathedral Chapter (the Cathedral’s governing board) recently approved a balanced budget of $12.9 million for fiscal year 2011, a 12 percent reduction from 2010. The approved budget required the elimination of the equivalent of six full-time staff positions, reducing the size of the cathedral staff to 70 FTEs.
How does this compare with previous years?
The Cathedral undertook significant budget reductions in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. During that time, the annual operating budget dropped from $27 million to $14.7 million, and the staff was reduced from 170 to 76 FTEs. The most recent, 2011 cuts were much smaller, and driven by fiscal prudence and a recognition that the Cathedral needed to refocus its energies on its core mission priorities.
What are the core mission priorities?
• To serve as a spiritual home for the nation;
• To be a national landmark and treasure;
• To be a living faith community in the Episcopal tradition; and
• To be a convener and a catalyst for reconciliation and interfaith dialogue.
How does the Cathedral fund its mission?
Despite the perception created by its name, Washington National Cathedral receives no financial support from the federal government, or from the national Episcopal Church. Approximately 60 percent of the Cathedral’s annual operating revenue comes from charitable gifts; event income, retail sales, and other miscellaneous revenue provide 22 percent. The remainder comes from a modest five percent draw on the Cathedral’s endowment.
What is the status of the Cathedral’s fundraising efforts?
Current projections are that contributions to the Cathedral in fiscal year 2010 will be 14 percent higher than in 2009.
Is it true the Cathedral is selling its assets, including rare books and artwork?
No. The Cathedral’s goal in considering selling, loaning or donating some of its rare book collection is to ensure that those books are properly preserved and made accessible to scholars and to the public. See more questions and answers about the rare book collection here »
Why is the Cathedral eliminating the conservator’s position while one of its primary areas of focus is preservation?
The Cathedral staff, in conjunction with an independent historic architecture firm, has just completed a survey of the Cathedral building. The survey’s principal finding is that the building is structurally sound. While the survey did identify several projects requiring our attention over the next five years, these projects are dependent upon further financing that at this time the Cathedral does not have. Because there are very limited resources for special preservation work this year, the Cathedral made the difficult decision to do without a conservator for the time being. Joseph Alonso, the Cathedral’s head mason, has perhaps more hands on knowledge of the Cathedral and its fabric than anyone alive, and will continue to provide daily oversight and care of the Cathedral fabric and facilities. In addition, the Rev. Timothy Boggs, our new provost, has particular expertise in Gothic architecture and will help lead our preservation efforts and participate actively in the planning and execution of fundraising campaigns.
In the midst of these cuts, the Cathedral also hired two new senior staff members and plans to hire another. Why?
In 2009, the Cathedral underwent an appraisal by a distinguished Visitors’ Committee of experts in the church and the business world. The committee made it very clear that the work before the Cathedral as a church, as a destination for pilgrims and tourists, and as an organization that relies heavily on its fundraising capabilities, is too varied, too complex, and too voluminous to be handled by our current leadership team. Hence, a decision was made to strengthen the senior staff by hiring the Rev. Boggs as provost and Steven M. Schwab as director of external relations. The Cathedral plans to hire a senior staff member to lead its visitors’ service department in the near future.