Fuel Our Flame, UCM’s Annual Budget Drive for 2019-2020

Fuel our Flame

Annual Budget Drive 2019-20

Stewardship: (noun) An ethic that embodies the careful planning and management of resources considered worth caring for and preserving.

What would you do if our beloved Church did not exist? Where would you find folks who cared about the migrant workers who support our dairy farmers, who care about the refugees who come to Vermont to start a new life,  who work hard to save our environment? Responsible stewardship helps to brings all these loving, caring people together. The time is here to show how important UCM is to you. The time is now to ensure that UCM will continue to advocate on behalf of those in need, on behalf of our troubled environment. The time is here to act on our priorities, to act on what is most important to us. It is time to give generously during the upcoming annual budget drive. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is so to speak. Show how important our beloved community is to you  Be loving. Give generously.

If you’re feeling ready to pledge, please see this year’s brochure or go straight to our online pledge card.
If you have questions about Stewardship or this year’s Pledge Drive, please read on to see some FAQs!

What is the annual budget drive?

The Budget Drive is your opportunity to participate in the holy practices of stewardship in order to provide a foundation for the Unitarian Church of Montpelier to exist in community and enact our mission in our world. It’s during this time that we reach out to you, our loving community, to Pledge a financial commitment for our next fiscal year. Pledges in particular allow us to plan for our budget each year, and are the foundation of our programs’ stability and development.

The Unitarian Church of Montpelier is financially autonomous. We have no diocese or umbrella organization to support us if we fail to meet our annual operating budget needs. We are it – we are in effect a co-op.

We pledge in order to ensure our Board, Minister, ET, and Finance Committee can confidently and responsibly plan for our Annual Budget. Our pledge totals are entered directly into the input side so we can plan for the output side – our beautiful facilities, amazing staff, and wonderful programs. While we gratefully receive all gifts, it’s the pledges we count on and use for our budgetary planning purposes. Pledgers are our foundation.

Please check out this year’s stewardship brochure and pledge card for more information or reach out to our Stewardship Co-chairs Charlotte Root at root.charlotte@gmail.com and Joel Dennison at joel.dennison@gmail.com.

What are six easy ways to submit a pledge?

Who is supposed to pledge?

Members. Friends. Parents. Newcomers. Each of us who is connected to the Unitarian Church of Montpelier is asked and expected to make an annual financial commitment to support the livelihood of our community and the mission of our church.

In addition, pledges can be and are made throughout the year by new members and friends as they realize the value they find here.

I’m not really ready to become a member of this church, so why am I getting asked to make a pledge?

We are very grateful to have many non-members of the church who pledge financial support to our community. We call them friends of the church. We invite everyone who is regularly participating in church activities to make a pledge to support the continuation of those and other church activities.

How much should I pledge?

We ask everyone to consider making a pledge to the church that is both responsible and significant based on each person’s own financial situation. For those who have not yet incorporated the Fair Share Guidelines, we ask you to consider the place of the church community in your life, and work towards a goal for yourself that falls in these guidelines in the place that feels right to you. We ask that everyone give until it feels good – we emphasize that this is not simply a donation to yet another charity, but a spiritual act of commitment, responsibility, and reciprocity for all that this amazing community brings into your life.

We ask that you consider your personal budget and determine an amount you can contribute to the church on a weekly or monthly basis.  We believe that our standard of giving should reflect our standard of living, and your commitment should demonstrate the importance and significance of the church community in your spiritual and intellectual life. For newer members and friends, we ask that you consider pledging an amount that reflects a significant commitment to the place you have chosen as your spiritual home.

Here are some resources on how to interact with the Fair Share Guidelines:

Suggested Fair Share Contribution Guide
Answers to Your Questions about the Suggested Fair Share Contribution Guide

I’m doing well – what should I pledge?

If you attend Sunday services, participate or organize our myriad programs and activities, if you have children in R.E., OWL, or Youth Group, and these connections are important in your life, then please consider pledging at a level that will reflect all that the church and the church community brings into your life, and demonstrate your commitment back to them with the significance of your pledge. Please use these Fair Share Guidelines to help you gauge your level of engagement and pledge.

I have a limited income – what should I pledge?

Please know that you are always welcome at our church. If you’re out of work, have a modest income, or are facing demands on your resources, then just pledge what you think you can give to the church relatively regularly throughout the next year. Your pledge should still reflect the significance of your relationship with the church, at your financial level.

What if I have a hardship situation that prevents me from making a financial pledge?

If you cannot make a financial pledge due to hardship, and wish to remain an active member in the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, please take some time to discuss your situation with our minister. You can reach her through email at ucm.revjoan@gmail.com.

How is pledging different from putting cash in the offering plate?

Pledges give us a good idea of the funds we can expect during the year so we can plan our operating budget. While unmarked donations via the weekly offering are greatly appreciated and are used to help support the church and the Community Pouch, they are inherently unpredictable, and thus we cannot rely on them in planning our budget.

Pledge payments may be placed in the offering plate, and we ask that they be made by check with a notation on the memo line that they are for your pledge. If you want to place cash in the offering basket toward your pledge, you can place it in an envelope with your name on it – this will provide us with the information we need to track these cash contributions.

What about the time I contribute? Do you just care about money?

Your volunteer efforts are highly appreciated!

Our community runs on a combination of everyone’s time and monetary contributions. We still have to have some focused time each year (usually in March) where we ask for, discuss, and honor the monetary contributions that keep our facility, staff, and membership to the UUA possible. The stewardship drive is the only time of the year we talk more about money than other things, because we need to make sure our financial house is in order so we can do more with and for our members and the community.

We could not survive without the generous donations of our members’ and friends’ time and talents. If you are eager to know more about our volunteer opportunities, committees, and other areas where your energy is needed, please read our weekly announcements or talk to Rev. Joan or any committee leaders about the options open to you.

Where does my pledge go?

Our pledges are used to pay salaries for our wonderful staff, historic building maintenance and seasonal costs such as heating, administrative costs, and the costs of our ministries, programming and committees and teams.

Our budget, developed by the Finance Committee based on submissions from church leaders, approved by the Board and then by the membership, details the inputs of pledge donations and outputs of the amounts budgeted for each of these programmatic areas. There is a visual graphic showing the distribution of expenses according to our Mission in our brochure, and if you’re interested in seeing the short or even the full budget, please reach out!

Can I designate what I want my money to go to?

Not specifically, in conjunction with the Budget Drive. If you are a member of the church, you have a voice – when considering the budget – in deciding how the overall church pledge income will be used. And if you get involved with the Board, ET, or other committees you’ll have even more contact with the development of our budget. However, it is not possible to earmark specific pledges to pay for specific things. That’s because it’s important we stay aligned and unified in both fundraising and budget development, which is why the process is so collaborative, and accounts for all the church needs, according to our Mission.

If you’d like to make a donation outside of your pledge to a specific cause, please contact the Stewardship Coordinator, Charlotte, at root.charlotte@gmail.com.

How can I change my current pledge?

If your financial circumstances change and you want or need to change your pledge – either up or down – simply contact Church Administrator Sam Rossier and tell him what you need to do.

A pledge is a promise – it is not a contract – but letting us know of your intention if you need to change your pledge helps us anticipate our cash-flow and manage our budget.

What if I have questions not answered here?

You can direct additional questions to our Stewardship Co-chairs Charlotte Root at root.charlotte@gmail.com and Joel Dennison at joel.dennison@gmail.com.

Adapted with permission from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia’s website.