Fair Share Giving Guide is stewardship aid

Looking for a way to help congregants understand responsible levels of giving now that it’s time for the annual stewardship campaign? Share the UUA’s Suggested Fair Share Giving Guide with them.

It suggests a minimum financial commitment of 2 percent for congregants earning up to $25,000 and goes up from there, all the way to a full tithe of 10 per cent at the other end of the scale.

The guide can be especially helpful for new congregants who may be accustomed to different giving styles. Those who have been unchurched will appreciate knowing what appropriate levels of giving are. The guide can also be a reminder to longtime congregants who make small financial commitments that one of the responsibilities of membership is appropriate giving.

The amounts on the guide are suggestions only, of course. Congregants should also be made to understand that these are not goals to necessarily be achieved in a year, but goals to work toward.

Eliminating financial barriers to participation

Does your congregation impose unspoken financial barriers to membership, leadership, or simply to participation? That is, if you want to have a social life within the congregation do you have to buy it at the annual auction? What about those who can’t afford to do so?

If you want to be on the governing board, does that require taking time off from work for meetings? If someone takes on a volunteer task, are they expected to pay for any needed materials themselves? In a blog post, the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke notes, “For those who don’t have much—or any—disposable income, some norms can create a financial barrier against potential involvement.”

The full post, “Financial Barriers to Leadership,” is on the UUA’s Growing Vital Leaders blog, for which Ruchotzke is one of the primary authors.

Setting a minimum pledge the wrong approach

Q. At our congregation we are working at establishing a minimum annual financial commitment policy for a voting member. I am wondering what other UU congregations have been doing in that regard?

A. Asking friends and members for just a minimum contribution is not a good idea, says Dr. Wayne Clark, the UUA’s Director of Congregational Stewardship Services. “Having a minimum financial commitment tends to lower the bar for congregants who might be able and willing to make larger commitments. It can lead them to expect that their congregation won’t ask much of them in any area. If you ask little of people, that’s usually what they will give. It’s often much less than what they would give if they’d been asked differently.”

Clark recommends giving people the UUA’s Suggested Fair Share Giving Guide as soon as they join or become involved on a regular basis. “That lets them create their own definition of a fair share gift by placing themselves on the guide,” he said. “Then it’s the congregant who defines fair share, not the minister or other leader.”