Under the watchful eye of Jeff Matsuoka, the BCA treasurer, and the BCA Budget and Finance Committee, we are currently in the process of making the BCA budget for April 2022 to April 2023. The resulting budget that is created will determine what the per member dues will be for BCA members.
During our current pandemic, the BCA knows that many temples remain closed. We have seen that more temples were able to have some type of fundraiser this year, but most were done in a virtual format and the amounts raised were less than a non-pandemic year.
Many temples have been able to keep up with paying their BCA dues during the pandemic. We are truly grateful for the support that the temples have been providing while they struggle to pay their own bills.
The BCA was fortunate to have received another Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan from the federal government this year. This loan money was used to pay for salaries of the seven full-time BCA employees and our eight part-time employees. The bishop’s salary is part of the salaries that BCA is responsible for. We are currently in the process of trying to have the loan forgiven, just like last year. Some temples were able to obtain PPP loan money, too.
As we look to the next budget year, we are assuming that more in-person meetings may start to take place. The fact that almost all BCA committee meetings and national meetings have been virtual thus far has saved the BCA needed funds. And, the BCA December National Board meeting and next year’s National Council Meeting (hosted by the Central California District) will again be virtual meetings.
A major yearly budget expense has been the allocation that is given to the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS). But even here, the IBS is continuing with their plan to ask for less allocation money every year. The IBS wants to become more independent from the BCA’s largesse and continue getting donations on their own. To that end, the funds that the IBS receives through the Dharma Forward campaign will help fund the endowments for their professorial chairs and will allow the IBS to be able to pay their faculty a competitive salary.
However, our biggest concern with the BCA budget is our membership count. Our membership count has decreased steadily over the past several decades. Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada is making it one of his goals to turn around the decline in our membership count. Having a pandemic that has closed our temples and made fundraising difficult is not helping our temples increase their membership. BCA is keenly aware of this and has tried to increase membership by promoting our individual membership and our under age 30 membership.
BCA is also in the process of trying to hire more staff to help us with our virtual programming. We have found that we are holding more activities and seminars for the public online. To that end, we are finding a greater need for people with technical skills who can help us provide that online content. Rev. Jerry Hirano, director of the Center for Buddhist Education, notes that we have more people attending our seminars online compared to when they were all in-person events before the pandemic.
Lastly, we now have a new tenant in the BCA headquarters building in San Francisco. The Japanese Community Youth Center occupies the second floor of the building and pays us rent. We are currently in the process of renting out the former bishop’s parsonage in Belmont. These rental agreements help BCA with new sources of revenue that did not exist prior to the pandemic.
Therefore, Jeff Matsuoka has to keep all of these things in mind as he and the Budget and Finance Committee try to predict how much the BCA will need to conduct business in 2022-2023. We still have recurring payments to make, like the debt service on the BCA loan from the Endowment Foundation on the Jodo Shinshu Center (JSC) building. We also have major maintenance projects ongoing, such as the elevator in the BCA headquarters building and the parking lot at the JSC. This year, the per member BCA dues were less than the year before. We will try to do that again, although it will be difficult.