Frequently Asked Questions
Why pledge and how is my pledge used?
Pledges support the annual budget of our congregation, providing worship and music, lifespan spiritual development, social justice work, pastoral care, congregational events, and much more. Pledge income also pays the salaries of our ministers and staff, and for the operation and maintenance of our facilities. Our pledges allow us to project the funding for our operating budget for the coming year.
Do I have to pledge to be a member of First Unitarian Church?
Our bylaws require that we have a record of an identified financial contribution during the current fiscal year in order for you to retain status as an active member of the congregation (an active member can vote in congregational matters, or serve on the board or nominating committee). Most members choose to do this with a pledge, which is also the most helpful choice for the congregation to be able to financially plan. However, there is not a required pledge amount. If your financial situation does not allow you to make a financial contribution, please reach out to one of the ministers to discuss the possibility of a pastoral waiver.
Do I need to be a member to pledge?
Anyone can make a pledge to the congregation, member or not. Non-members who choose to pledge are usually considered “friends” of the church.
What is the difference between pledging and automated giving?
A pledge is a promise to contribute a certain amount of money within our fiscal year (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021). Automatic giving is one way to fulfill your pledge – you set up a monthly automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you have already set up automated giving but haven’t made a formal pledge, please still make a pledge so we officially know that you plan to continue giving this way.
How do I fulfill my pledge once I’ve made it?
- Automated giving: you can set up secure automated giving on Vanco, our payment processing system by clicking here. Most people choose monthly giving, but some choose weekly. And some people choose to set up an auto-payment with their bank instead. Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 563-3980 if you have questions or need help getting set up.
- Single gift: you can choose to pay your pledge in one or more lump sums with a check sent to the church office, or securely online on Vanco, our payment processing system by clicking here.
- Other types of payments: we can help you set up stock transfers, or work with your schedule to make paying your pledge as convenient for you as possible. Reach out to us at email@example.com or (215) 563-3980 to talk through options.
How does a pledge relate to the weekly offering at Sunday services?
The money received in the weekly offering also goes towards our congregation’s annual budget (and is sometimes shared with outside justice organizations), but does not count towards a pledge unless specifically designated by the giver. If you wish to pay your pledge during the weekly offering, log into Vanco and designate your gift as a pledge payment (at the moment, we cannot easily use our text giving system to receive most pledge payments). Once we are back together in person, you can also put a check or cash in a special envelope in the collection plate that designates a pledge payment.
How is this year working compared to a normal year?
We postponed our traditional pledge campaign this Spring due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, but are now hoping to go through our campaign during the month of October, 2020. Some people have already made pledges, some people have been giving monthly or weekly through the summer but haven’t officially made a pledge yet, and some people have been waiting for the campaign or will be making a pledge for the first time. As our fiscal year goes from July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021, we ask that people make a pledge through that time.
So, for example, if you plan to give a lump sum pledge payment at some point during the fiscal year, pledge the amount of that payment. If you have been giving monthly and plan to continue, add up what you have given since July 1, 2020 with the remaining monthly payments you intend to make before June 30, 2021 and pledge that amount for the year (we will count your automated giving towards this year’s pledge). If you are planning on starting monthly automated giving in, say, the month of October, 2020, multiply the amount per month by the number of months between October and June to determine your total pledge for the year. We recognize that this is more complex than usual, and are grateful for your flexibility!
Can I change my pledge if my circumstances change?
Yes! We understand that things change, especially in these unprecedented times. If you need to adjust your pledge down or up, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 563-3980 and we will take care of it, no questions and no judgement!
How much should I give?
Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, but we ask that people pledge an amount that feels generous within their means. It costs about $2,000 per adult to sustain the church for the year, but that number is far beyond the means of some of us, and for others of us with greater means, $2,000 wouldn’t feel generous. If you are looking for a guide based on income, the table below might be helpful.
May I volunteer instead of pledging?
Our volunteer gifts and financial gifts both make this church powerful and sustainable. We depend upon both to live out our mission.
What is this year’s pledge campaign goal?
This year’s pledge campaign goal is $280,000, which accounts for the growth in our membership over the past couple of years and our commitment to pay our staff according to fair compensation guidelines.
Should I pledge alone or with my partner/family?
We track pledges from “pledge units” which can mean individuals, couples, or families. Some couples choose to pledge separately, though most pledge together. The choice is yours!
Is it possible to earmark a pledge for a specific purpose?
As a democratic community, our budgets are created to serve the whole of our work together. All pledges support the entire congregation.
Are my payments to First Unitarian Church tax-deductible?
To the extent you itemize deductions, yes. Donations to Churches are the same as donations to any 501c3 charity – fully tax deductible.
Who do I contact with questions?
For most questions, our dedicated administrative staff will be able to help. Contact them at email@example.com or (215) 563-3980. If you want to speak to a member of the stewardship team (Melody Bergey, Amelia Longo, Scott McCarthy, Ted Newill, and Rev. Abbey Tennis) email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all happy to help with any questions you have!