Understanding How Much to Pledge

Understanding How Much to Pledge

A message from Laurie Coltri, 1st Vice President of UUCC’s Board of Trustees:

What does generosity mean, as a practical matter for pledging? Here is one way to think about it.

We strive to be a diverse, welcoming, anti-racist, multicultural Beloved Community. One facet of diversity is financial — the income resources of our community are highly variable. We leave the pledge amount up to individual conscience, unlike some denominations that set and require tithes.

It might help you decide how much to pledge to think about our collective responsibility.

In 2023-24 we had a total expense budget of roughly $745,000, serving a congregation of over 620 congregants. Here’s how money was allocated (roughly):

Amount%PurposeDescription
$498,00068%Staff payDown $45,000 from 2022-23. We eliminated our RE Director position & cut our Music Director’s hours 25%.
$210,00029%OBICExpenses of owning & occupying the building
$22,7003%Operating fixed costsPhone, internet, postage, insurance, professional services, bank fees, office supplies, etc.
$12,2002%Program expensesSupplies for greeter tables, worship, children’s programming; costs of participating in/hosting community-wide events; curricula, musical scores; guest musicians & ministers, etc.
$4,500<1%DuesUUA & regional denominational dues (10% of our actual dues — we chronically underpay!)

The lion’s share of our dollars goes to staff. Even a substantial part of our Owen Brown Interfaith Center (OBIC) costs is for OBIC staff. This makes sense in light of what we are:  a community grounded in human beings, relationships, and caring service. But we have difficult choices. If pledges fall short, UUCC staff compensation is what we often have to cut. Other non-fixed expenses are so tiny that they don’t make much difference. Staff cuts are extremely painful and destructive.

The coming year’s pledge goal is $700,000—an increase of $55,000 from last year. This figure is the result of the Board working with the Stewardship Council to make a realistic projection of UUCC’s financial needs. Last year we budgeted a transfer of $34,500 from our rainy day fund, the operating surplus, which needs to be replenished—not further depleted. And it would be in keeping with our values and mission to bring staff compensation levels up and plan for restoration of staff losses following the pandemic. We know that additional funds will also be needed to bring on our interim minister. And we need to consider our $40,000 underpayment of our denominational dues in light of our values. We can’t do all of these things for $55,000, but we can start.

Last year, 341 UUCC congregants made pledges. If the same number pledge this year, to fulfill a $700,000 pledge budget, each individual would need make, on average, an annual pledge of $2,053 ($4,106 per couple). For some, this amount is a stretch too far. Others are newcomers, who are in a testing phase and may feel that a full financial commitment is not something they’re ready to do. Still others, whose resources are abundant, pledge more to help meet our need, and to ensure that the congregation remains a healthy, flourishing community for all. The goal is for everyone to pledge to their ability and situation. Each additional pledger makes things a little easier.

We strive to care for everyone, support a diverse congregation, and affirm each person’s right of conscience in selecting a pledging amount. We hope this information helps you to do just that, in keeping with your own abilities, situations, and values.

3 Comments

  1. Richard Wachterman

    Laurie – Thanks so much for all the helpful information you have provided. One detail I’d be interested in seeing, if you were willing and able to provide it at this time, is a comparison of the projected costs of bringing on an interim minister with (the offset) of Paige’s compensation.

    Thanks
    Rich

    • Laurie Coltri (Author)

      Richard, thank you for the question.
      We don’t have details yet, but we do expect to add roughly $15,000 in expenses, more or less, including relocation expenses and possibly some additional benefits and professional development costs.

  2. John Guy

    Good Morning First VP Laurie – A great big ATTAGIRL for this budgeting message . It is very clear ;it is most timely ;and it is a valuable aid to congregants as they deliberate over their generosity with the institution UUCC . And most of all it reminds us congregants how difficult it is in recent years for the Board to construct a meaningful budget for the upcoming church year .

    I hope the Board adopts your messaging annually as a regular way for the Board and congregation negotiating early in the budget process for meaningful pledges going forward .

    Bless you Laurie as you prepare UUCC for the forthcoming year . Regards John Guy

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