PLEDGING, DONATING, GIVING
Honor our history. Enrich our present. Anticipate our future.
What’s it all about?
At First Parish, we know financial stewardship and generosity are important components of our worship and church community. Giving is a way to ensure the legacy of our church continues for the next generation. Pledging is a tangible way to support the values and beliefs our Unitarian Universalist church embodies. When each of us gives as we are able, together we fund ministry within our church, the community, and the world.
Pledging Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a pledge?
A pledge is a promise to make a contribution to the church. The total amount pledged by everyone is used by the church leaders to plan programs and set a budget for the next fiscal year (July through June).
How does a pledge differ from a gift given either in the offering or at another time?
A pledge is a promise of financial support for the upcoming year and is critical for the church to budget. Pledge payments are actual funds given to fulfill a pledge and are tracked by household.
A gift is unpledged and perhaps one-time. Texting to or putting cash in the offering plate is a special kind of generosity. Cash is not tracked, but texts to the plate and checks in the offering plate are tracked by household. Plate collection funds help First Parish and Share the Plate recipients and are gratefully received.
For what time period am I pledging?
Your pledge covers a budget year–July through June. Since our pledges cover one year, we each need to revisit our pledge every year. A budget year is the same as a church year or a fiscal year.
Who should pledge?
Our goal is to obtain pledges from 100% of the active Members and Friends (non-Members) in the congregation. This goal is based on fundamental fairness. We are a community of people with a vision. We cannot achieve our vision alone. We rely on each other. Everyone is welcome to attend services at First Parish in Concord, Unitarian Universalist, whether formally a Member or Friend, with no financial obligation.
How much should I pledge?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of pledge amount. Our congregation has Fair Share Pledging Guidelines which offer different levels of pledging for different household situations. This means giving generously according to our commitments and means. We are grateful for every pledge commitment and every gift.
When do I pledge?
We need your pledge, your promise, before we begin creating our budget for the next fiscal year. The pledge deadline this year is April 16, 2023. This will ensure your pledge is included in our budget process as revenue that we can use to cover next year’s expenses. Pledges are over 60% of our annual income so knowing what we will have is essential in building our budget. Each year we do a Pledge Campaign in March and then begin budgeting in April. We review priorities in May and vote on the final budget in June at Annual Meeting. Please pledge early and certainly before the deadline so your pledge is incorporated in the budget.
Why do we need your pledge?
Pledges fund our programs–the “pillars” of our church life: Worship, Congregational Life, Music, Religious Education, and Social Action. They pay salaries of the professionals who run these programs and the costs of operating and maintaining the building.
Our pledge is our promise to each other of financial stewardship. The amount pledged is an important factor in determining the annual budget. Your pledge helps us plan.
What is the average pledge amount at First Parish?
The average pledge for 2022-2023 (the current year) is $2,993. The median pledge is $1,138. This means half of our 2022-2023 pledges are higher than $1,138 and half are lower.
How many people pledge at First Parish?
For our 2022-2023/current fiscal year we have 326 pledges or pledging units. A pledging unit is usually a household, so often contains more than one adult Member or Friend.
What is the total membership of First Parish?
We currently have 566 Active Members, 203 Active Friends, 481 active households, and 326 pledging households. This means 155 active households did not pledge for 2022-2023.
What is the cost to First Parish for each member?
It costs more than $2,300 per active household and over $3,400 per pledging household per year to run First Parish. We all share in covering the fixed operational expenses of the church. These expenses include staff salaries and benefits, utilities, office supplies, building maintenance, heating oil, landscaping, etc. In addition to these fixed costs, we currently pay a total of about $128 per active Member per year to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Annual Program Fund.
How are financial recordkeeping and budgeting handled at First Parish?
Please read the Financial Policies of First Parish.
What will we lose if we don’t pledge?
Pledges are nearly three-quarters of the church’s revenue. If our revenue isn’t enough to cover anticipated operating expenses, difficult decisions about cuts to our expenses will be required to achieve a balanced budget. If we need to make large cuts to First Parish’s operating expenses, the Standing Committee, in collaboration with the Senior Minister, will hold congregational meetings to gather input and present options to the congregation. These input and options would be incorporated into a proposed budget to be voted on–first by the Standing Committee and then by the congregation at Annual Meeting in June.
What is a Legacy Gift?
Legacy gifts are donations made by an individual through a will or bequest. They are investments in First Parish and live on to support the church’s future. Legacy gifts reflect the values of the donor. The long-term financial security of First Parish is dependent on this vital method of financial support. Legacy donors work with an attorney or financial advisor to determine the size and type of bequest with which they are comfortable. All levels of pledgers can help in this long-range legacy effort! To learn more visit our Legacy Giving webpage or contact Fifi Ball, email@example.com.
What if I need to change, or cannot fulfill, my pledge?
You may change your pledge any time during the year. If you find your life taking an unexpected turn, a call to the ministerial staff might also be a good step. Whether you’re adjusting your pledge up or down, we will always be grateful for the information, which helps us budget and manage the budget. Know that every gift is valued. To change or discuss your pledge, please contact Fifi Ball, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about financial stewardship or pledging, Fifi Ball, email@example.com, will be happy to talk with you.