Annual Pledge FAQ
Here are some common questions about First Unitarian Church’s pledging and donation process:
What is a pledge (also called a financial commitment)?
A pledge is simply a statement of intention to make a financial contribution to First Unitarian Church. We ask that new members fill out a pledge card when they sign the membership book. During our Annual Every-Member-and-Friend Canvass, which takes place in the fall, we ask all members and friends of First Unitarian Church to fill out a pledge card for the following year. Members and friends generally need to fill out a new pledge card each year. The Annual Budget Drive Committee earnestly requests everyone to pledge online or return their pledge cards as soon as possible once the fall budget drive begins.
What is so important about a pledge?
First Unitarian Church, like many other organizations, draws up a detailed spending plan, or budget, for each year. It helps tremendously for us to have an accurate picture of how much income we can anticipate. When our members and friends fill out pledge cards, we are better able to balance income with expenses.
What is a Fair Share Pledge?
The Board of Trustees has defined a Fair Share pledge as three to five percent of household income, as defined by the member.
I have made a pledge to the church. When should I make my contribution?
Many people divide their pledge into twelve parts and write a check to the church each month for one-twelfth of their total pledge. For example, if your pledge is $1,500 per year, you might write a check to the church each month for $125. However, some people prefer to make quarterly contributions, and some prefer to make one annual payment.
How do I make a pledge payment?
There are several options for making your pledge payments.
- Online: You may make your payment online. You may pay your pledge automatically by credit card payment or by Electronic Funds Transfer through the church’s secure processing vendor, Breeze. These transactions incur a small cost to the church. Please contact the Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance with your online payment.
- By Mail: You may send a check to the church office at 605 Morewood Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
- In Person: You may bring your check to our Sunday Morning Service or drop it off at the church office.
- Automatic Withdrawal: You may set up an auto-withdrawal from your checking or savings account, or an auto-payment from your credit card account. Paperwork for auto-withdrawal is available at the church office.
What is the preferred mode of payment?
Most people contribute by writing a check to the church and either placing that in the offering plate on Sunday mornings or mailing it to the church office. You may set up an automatic Bill-Pay from your bank account.
What if my financial situation changes and I cannot follow through on my pledge?
Your pledge is a statement of intention, not a legal contract. If your financial situation changes and you cannot follow through on your pledge, we simply encourage you to contribute what you can. It would be helpful at some point to communicate with the Treasurer about your change in plans.
How much am I expected to pledge?
We are an economically diverse congregation. Each household has its own particular financial situation. Thus, we do not expect everyone to pledge the same dollar amount. However, we have set a standard of three to five percent of annual household income as a general pledge expectation for members and friends of First Unitarian Church. Many households can manage three to five percent or even more for their annual contribution to the church. Some households are steadily working their way up to this standard. Others simply contribute what they can. Obviously, the greater our financial resources, the better able we are to fulfill our mission (1) to provide a satisfying and worthwhile experience for everyone who is part of this religious community, and (2) to promote our religious values in the larger community.
Are my contributions to First Unitarian Church tax-deductible?
Yes, financial contributions to First Unitarian Church are tax-deductible, and each January the church sends out a contribution statement to every individual who has made a contribution during the preceding year. However, your contributions will appear on your statement only if the office staff can identify you as the contributor. Thus, if you simply place cash into the offering plate, the office staff will not know the source of your contribution. Therefore, we recommend that you write a check or use a contribution envelope, making it possible for the office staff to identify you as the contributor.
I understand that First Unitarian Church has an endowment. Why not use the endowment to cover church operating expenses instead of asking the members for contributions?
We are fortunate that perhaps fifteen percent of our annual budget comes from our endowment (in the form of investment income) and from rentals. This revenue helps stabilize our budget and allows us to include some things in our budget we would not otherwise be able to afford. However, we definitely want to resist the temptation to become too dependent on our endowment. We believe that our church is much healthier when the members and friends of First Unitarian Church derive a sense of shared ownership of what happens here through their generous and sustained giving.
First Unitarian Church asks for money for many different causes. Am I expected to give to everything?
We do offer many opportunities for you to put your dollars to good use, and we can all be glad that so many people want to accomplish so many wonderful things here! But please do not feel that you must be highly generous with each and every fund-raising activity. Your pledge to the annual church budget should be your basic priority for giving to First Unitarian Church; but beyond that, we simply encourage you to choose which fund-raising activities will fit your personal priorities and your household budget.