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Giving FAQ

 

Sustained Giving FAQs

How is a sustaining gift different than a pledge?

A sustaining gift is a commitment to make a continuous financial contribution to the fellowship's operating budget.  Sustaining gifts are ongoing and do not come with an automatic expiration date of one year. The financial contribution you make this year will automatically carry forward to subsequent fiscal years. Changes to the amount of the gift may be made at any time, and members are encouraged to increase their giving annually. Annual pledges are a promise to make a financial contribution toward the operating budget for a specific fiscal year. Our fiscal year runs from January 1 to December 31.

Often sustaining gifts are made through a monthly Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), but other methods of payment may be used. Sustaining gifts and annual pledges may be paid by check or credit card, or with a donation of appreciated securities from a donor advised fund or a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA.

Why should I become a sustaining giver?

There's a practical reason why organizations like public radio encourage sustaining membership: stability. Monthly sustaining gifts offer the fellowship a steady, predictable income. They are a safe, efficient, and trackable means of giving, and monthly contributions are often easier to fold into a personal budget than a larger one-time sum.

Because sustaining gifts are ongoing, they also reduce time spent on a traditional pledge drive, which requires significant planning, coordination, and follow-up. Sustained giving allows staff and volunteers to focus less on annual campaigns and more on what we do best and what inspires us most.

Can I change the amount of my sustaining gift?

Absolutely! Changing the amount of a monthly EFT can be initiated any time of the year with a phone call or email to the congregational administrator. In fact, members and friends are encouraged to increase their giving annually when possible. We also realize that financial circumstances can change and contributions may need to be reduced.

Will I receive a reminder or chance to review my sustaining gift?

Yes, a reminder  of your giving will continue to be provided annually in fall, and your monthly EFT may be changed or terminated at any time by contacting the congregational administrator. You will also receive a summary of your giving in January for tax purposes. In the spirit of simplicity, UUFA sustaining gifts through Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)  do not come with an automatic expiration date of one year.

How much should I give?

We encourage you to consider what the Fellowship means to you. Silvio Nardoni, treasurer for the Pacific Southwest District of the UUA, stated, “Charitable giving should change your life in some way.” Stewardship is an expression of our religious or spiritual values. When viewed as an integral part of ministry, acts of stewardship allow us to grow in faith and gratitude. Stewardship includes sharing a portion of all of our resources, including time, talent, and treasure. It is how we become who we are and what we are called to do as people of faith. We recommend taking a look at the Fair Share Giving Guide to consider how much you might pledge.

This chart provides a breakdown of gift amounts by pledging household in 2021. Each color section represents 25% of our income.

What are our funding priorities for 2022?

The UUFA board of directors has shaped the following priorities based on  member input from the congregational survey:

  • Take advantage of our upgraded audio-visual setup and new technologies introduced during COVID to enhance learning, collaboration, and worship. This includes expanding options for hybrid and shared programming.
  • Begin developing a lifespan religious education program. This includes exploring options for engaging a full-time director of RE to coordinate and expand opportunities for religious study and spiritual development for all ages, not just our youth.
  • Prioritize  membership development with a focus on reaching out to a younger demographic, strengthening connections among families, and actively engaging new members in Fellowship life and leadership opportunities.
 

General Giving FAQs

Why are we expected to make a financial contribution to the Fellowship?

The UUFA is a bit different than most churches in that the yearly financial contributions from our members and friends comprise 98% of our total annual budget. We alone fund our day-to-day operations, and our mission and vision. Your financial support is vital to planning the great work we can do in the coming year! Our Finance Committee begins preparing next year's budget in early October  to accommodate two Board readings prior to the annual meeting in December, when it is brought before the congregation for approval. Your financial contribution is private, but the Fellowship's needs are public and important.

How is my money used?

Sustaining gifts and annual pledges support the annual budget of our congregation, providing worship and music, lifespan religious education, social justice projects, pastoral care, Fellowship events, and much more. This income also pays the salaries of our minister and staff, and for the operation and maintenance of our facilities. 

Do I need to be a member to make a sustaining gift or annual pledge?

Anyone can make a sustaining gift or annual pledge to the Fellowship, member or not. We have many people in our congregation who are not (yet) members and who contribute in this way, as a reflection of the value the Fellowship holds in their lives. We encourage you to make this commitment and also to join as a member to deepen your connection to the UUFA.

Do I have to pledge to be a member of the Fellowship?

Our bylaws require that we have a record of a sustaining gift or annual pledge 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, stand for elected office, and serve as a committee chair.) However, there is not a required pledge amount. If your financial situation does not allow you to make a financial contribution, please visit with the minister to discuss the possibility of a waiver and other ways in which you can contribute to the life and work of the Fellowship.

How do I make a financial contribution?

We encourage members and friends to make a sustaining gift, which is an ongoing monthly payment by electronic funds transfer ("EFT," initiated by the UUFA) or direct deposit from your bank account. An EFT can be initiated by contacting the UUFA office at any time. If you choose to make an annual pledge, you may pay by check (write "pledge" in the memo line) or cash, brought to the UUFA office so a receipt can be issued, or by some other method (like stock transfer or qualified charitable distribution). It is very helpful to indicate how and when your pledge will be paid - whether monthly, annually (please specify what month), twice a year, or some other time frame - for budgeting purposes.

Will I receive giving updates and statements?

Reminders are sent out quarterly upon request, and automatically to those who are behind in their pledge fulfillments or who have not made a contribution towards their annual or sustained gift (unless specific information was received –“One check in December”, for example).  For tax purposes, we provide a statement in January showing your contributions for the previous year.

When do I need to pay my pledge?

You may make a sustaining gift or payment towards an annual pledge at any time, but for your contribution to be considered for our annual budgeting process, we will need confirmation of your sustaining gift or intended pledge each autumn.

How can I find out where my money goes?

Budgeting is completed in the autumn months and is a process that includes open "hearings" where you can review the upcoming year's budget and ask questions.  The budget is then approved by the congregation at the annual meeting in December.  The Board receives monthly expense reports, which are available for review via request to the office.  Questions can be answered through the office, treasurer, or finance committee.

Is it possible to earmark a financial contribution for a specific purpose?

As a democratic community, our budgets are created to serve the whole of our work together. All operating financial gifts (sustaining gifts, annual pledges, and one-time gifts to the operating fund) support the entire Fellowship. Contributions to the UUFA's endowment or a specific fundraising or capital campaign are welcome and encouraged, but are outside of the operating budget.

What about non-monetary gifts to the Fellowship?

Stock may be donated directly to the UUFA, and there may be certain tax advantages for doing so. Please contact the UUFA office to obtain instructions and necessary documents. The Fellowship does not accept donations of objects (e.g. lawn mower, furniture, kitchen equipment).

Time and talents are another vital means by which you can contribute to the Fellowship.  Want to get more involved?  Contact the office today and we'll connect you!

How does a sustaining gift or annual pledge relate to the weekly collection at Sunday services?

The money received in the in-person offering is split equally between a local or national cause and our Fellowship's annual budget. Online contributions are not split, but remain as designated. A slate of monthly recipients is voted on annually by members. 

However, some people may wish to pay their sustaining gift or annual pledge by a check into the weekly collection plate. In this case, it should be identified as a pledge in the memo line of the check.

Why do we pay dues to the UUA?

We pay dues to our national and regional UU associations to support the work of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which includes: ministerial settlement, building loans and grants, RE curricula and training, UU World magazine, and many other efforts. Please take this into consideration as you consider your financial contributions.

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