Stewardship Circles: Year-Round Pledging at USSB
When we pledge our financial support to USSB, we express gratitude for those who came before us, hope for those who will come after us, and sustaining support for each other today. We become part of a beloved community that shares time, talent and treasure to deepen our connections with each other and with life. We find our place in the circle of congregational life at USSB.
This year we announced something new was coming to USSB. Starting this spring, we no longer ask everyone to pledge at one time. Now it’s year-round pledging and we encourage you to practice year-round giving.
USSB now has 12 Stewardship Circles, one for each month of the year. Each pledging or contributing member or friend at USSB is a member of one these Stewardship Circles. Each month the members of that Stewardship Circle will be asked to individually review and/or reaffirm his/her/their pledge. That means we will all be asked to reconsider our financial commitment to USSB at different months throughout the year. Be on the lookout for a letter in April which will identify your Stewardship Circle month. It may be July of this year, or it might be May of next year, but you will be asked to review your financial pledge in the next 12 months.
How will this work? A couple of weeks before your Stewardship Circle month, you’ll receive a letter with information about USSB’s past accomplishments, our goals and aspirations for the future, and a Fair Share Contribution Guide. You will also be asked to review and increase your financial commitment to USSB, as you are willing and able to do so, to help us reach those goals.
We will also ask you to make a continuing financial commitment to USSB. Set up your monthly, weekly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual gift to USSB as an automatic funds transfer with your financial institution and you’ll never have to worry about writing that check when you’re out of town or miss a service. And USSB will be able to rely on your future financial gifts. As with any pledge of financial support to USSB, your commitment may be increased or decreased at any time as your circumstances change.
Once you respond, either online or in print, you’ll receive a thank you call from one of our Stewardship Circle Callers. If we don’t hear from you, starting the first week of your Stewardship Circle month, you’ll receive a contact asking if you received the information, if you have any questions and if everything is okay. It’s a call to encourage you to pledge, but it is also a call of caring concern, connecting one congregant with another as part of our beloved community, keeping our USSB circle strong.
We hope this new approach will help us be more connected and more caring with each other. It allows us to encourage and exercise generosity throughout the year instead of focusing solely on pledge activities for a few months every spring. And it should help make our financial planning easier.
We are excited for what this new approach to pledging can mean for USSB. We look forward to answering your questions. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your questions or comments. And thank you for your continuing commitment of time, talent and treasure to our beloved community.
Together in service,
Your USSB Stewardship Team
PLEDGING & GIVING FAQ
WHAT IS A PLEDGE?
A pledge is promise to donate money to the congregation.
WHY DOES USSB ASK MEMBERS AND FRIENDS TO MAKE PLEDGES?
USSB is completely self-supporting. The financial health of our Beloved Community at USSB is determined by the generosity of our members and friends. Almost 50% of all USSB expenses are paid by the continuing pledges of our members and friends.
WHAT IS A CONTINUOUS PLEDGE?
The salaries we pay our ministers and staff, our building expenses, and our program costs don’t stop at the end of the year. To help pay these expenses, we encourage everyone to agree to make financial support for USSB a regular, ongoing activity, and we ask that your pledge be open ended, with no expiration date. USSB is always there for you, and we need your financial support to keep USSB a strong and vibrant voice for liberal religion, equality and justice.
WHAT IF I NEED TO END OR AMEND MY PLEDGE?
We know your circumstances might change, and your pledge can be changed at any time. If you have a financial hardship or leave USSB and need to reduce or end your pledge, just contact Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration, at email@example.com. And if you get a salary increase or win the lottery, you can email Erin and increase your pledge! All pledging and contributing members and friends of USSB will be contacted once each year to review their continuing pledge.
WHAT’S A STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE?
Because USSB has moved to year-round pledging, all of our pledging and contributing members and friends are now divided into 12 groups, one for each month of the year. These groups are called Stewardship Circles. Each month, members of that Stewardship Circle receive printed information about USSB’s activities and finances and are contacted by Stewardship Circle Leaders to review their pledging plans for the next year.
WHY DID USSB MOVE TO YEAR-ROUND PLEDGING?
Year-round pledging should help even out the staff and volunteer time needed to help make generosity a normal and customary activity at USSB. And as an extra benefit, since we no longer conduct a massive pledge campaign in the Fall, it clears USSB’s calendar for other happenings and activities. Several other large UU churches have adopted year-round pledging, and we thought it was worth a try.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I PLEDGE?
That’s a question only you can answer, but we encourage you to think about what USSB means to you and then review the Fair Share Generosity Guide to help you decide. We’re encouraging everyone to give 5% or more of monthly income, if possible. When congregations are supported at this level they have the financial foundation to meet their financial responsibilities to ministers and staff, to keep their buildings and grounds safe, accessible and attractive and to be responsive to the needs of their members, friends, visitors and the wider community through worship, programs and outreach.
I JUST MADE A PLEDGE IN THE SPRING, AND I’M BEING ASKED TO PLEDGE AGAIN. DO I HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLEDGE NOW?
You can change your pledge now or keep it as it is – the choice is yours. Just indicate the monthly amount of your new pledge on the online or printed pledge form, and If you’d like to change your pledge now but wait until January or some other month to actually start paying the new amount, you can indicate that on the online or printed pledge form (deliver the printed form to Erin Wilson in the USSB Office).
I MADE A PLEDGE FOR THE 2016-17 FISCAL YEAR (ENDING JUNE 30, 2017), BUT MY STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE LETTER TELLS ME I WON’T BE CONTACTED UNTIL LATER IN THE 2017-18 FISCAL YEAR. WHAT HAPPENS TO MY PLEDGE AFTER JUNE 30 OF THIS YEAR?
Because we ask everyone to make a continuing pledge of support to USSB, we anticipate the pledge amount you selected for the current fiscal year will continue into 2017, 2018 and beyond unless you tell us otherwise. You can always amend your pledge by contacting Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing a new online or printed pledge form (deliver it to Erin Wilson in the USSB office).
OOPS, MY STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE MONTH JUST PASSED AND I DIDN’T COMPLETE AN ONLINE OR PRINTED PLEDGE FORM WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Because we ask everyone to make a continuing pledge of support to USSB, we anticipate the pledge amount you selected previously will continue into 2017, 2018 and beyond unless you tell us otherwise. If we don’t hear from you by the end of your Stewardship Circle Month, we’ll send you correspondence that confirms your monthly pledge amount will continue. You can always amend your pledge by contacting Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration, at email@example.com or by completing a new online or printed pledge form (deliver it to Erin Wilson in the USSB office).
THE PLEDGE FORM ASKS FOR A MONTHLY AMOUNT. DO I HAVE TO PAY MONTHLY?
We encourage everyone to pledge and to pay monthly, when possible, since USSB has salaries and other expenses to pay every month. But you can make you payments in any increment you want: weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Just check the payment frequency box on the pledge form or online that works best for you.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MAKE PAYMENTS ON MY PLEDGE?
We encourage everyone to set up an automatic payment plan using your checking account with your financial institution. You can do this online using USSB’s website (click here). Or you can contact Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll help you set it up. Or you can log into your financial institution’s website and set up your USSB pledge payments as an automatic bill payment. The choice is yours.
CAN I PAY USING CHECKS?
Yes, but if you go on vacation or an extended business trip, you might skip a check and USSB can’t skip paying its ministers and staff their salaries. Consider setting up an automatic payment plan instead (see above).
CAN I PAY USING MY CREDIT CARD OR DEBIT CARD?
Sure, automatic payment plans or single payments using your favorite credit or debit card is possible, but USSB incurs service charges when you choose this option. Please increase your pledge by another 3% to cover these fees, if you decide to use your credit or debit card to make pledge payments.
CAN I DONATE STOCK?
Yes, electronic transfers of stock are welcome. But you’ll need to complete a transfer form and contact Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration at email@example.com to make this happen.
CAN I USE DONOR ADVISED FUND OR SOMETHING ELSE MY FINANCIAL ADVISER TOLD ME ABOUT TO MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS?
Alternate funding sources may be used. Contact Erin Wilson, USSB’s Director of Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org to consider these options.
I ALREADY HAVE AN AUTOMATIC PAYMENT PLAN IN PLACE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
When it’s your Stewardship Circle Month, you will need to either (1) use USSB’s online pledge form or (2) complete your printed pledge form and check “Please have USSB initiate this process” or (3) contact your financial institution (if you set up your payments as automatic bill pay) to make sure your payments are the amount and frequency you want them to be. If you initially specified an end date for your payments, either extend the date or delete this option so your payments will continue until you decide to change or end them.
I WANT TO CONTINUE MY CURRENT PLEDGE AMOUNT FOR NOW AND THEN CHANGE SOMETIME NEXT YEAR. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you don’t know the amount for your new pledge, then list your current monthly pledge amount and current date in the blanks on the pledge form. When you’re ready to change, complete a new online or printed pledge form (deliver it to Erin Wilson in the USSB office). If you do know the amount of your new pledge, then list that amount and the delayed start date (month and year) on the online or printed pledge form (deliver it to Erin Wilson in the USSB office). We’ll anticipate your current pledge will continue until the delayed start date, when your new pledge amount will begin.
I’VE ALREADY PAID MY ENTIRE PLEDGE FOR 2016-17. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
First of all, thank you! Please complete your online or printed pledge form (deliver it to Erin Wilson in the USSB office) and indicate the month and year you plan to start your new USSB pledge payments.