Stewardship: Financially Supporting the Church
For more information contact the Stewardship committee.
Pledging Sunday, March 14
By now most of us have received our pledging envelopes and our marching orders for pledging. As I was writing your names on the commitment card, I was wondering about the spiritual practice of giving. I remember two distinct experiences. The first was when I was in Jr. High and had made “ lots” of money babysitting and then spent it all on great Christmas presents for my family. I remember feeling elated. For the first time, I was truly on the giving end. The second experience was when I first came to this church in 1978. During services no one passed a collection plate. No one asked for money. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the asking for money felt too improper, too personal, too pushy. Years have past and I look back and wonder if we robbed folks of the spiritual opportunity of giving, where you don’t give to get but to be part of something. And that feels good. My pledge will contribute to the growth and well-being of a place I call home, a spiritual home. Financial giving is part of a spiritual practice. I am thankful that I can contribute and join the spiritual journey.
Please take time to consider what the church means to you, your family and to others who have yet to walk through our doors and discover their spiritual home for the first time. And give as generously as you can. Please, please, please, bring your commitment card to Pledging Sunday, March 14—or mail it earlier—or give to one of your Stewardship Committee members. The Board needs to know the pledging total for next year so it can plan the programs/ budget. (We don’t want to track you down, but you know we will!) Thank you.
Stewardship Committee: Rory McGregor, Pat McDougal, Bill Peyton
From the Stewardship Commitee
The Stewardship Committee is busily preparing a letter to the community at large (Sharonites who have given to the MeetingHouse Preservation Fund, groups who have used our Meeting House, past members/friends), advising on the scope/status of the AIM Project and welcoming financial contributions if so motivated.
Next on the docket for Stewardship is planning the All Member Canvass, which takes place in March of 2010. The canvass provides the opportunity for everyone to decide what they can give financially to the proposed operating budget for the next church year (July 2010 to June 2011). While that seems far away, organizing must begin now. Ideas for how to grow the congregation in our new space will be considered. Proposed budgets get put together. Priorities are established. And a team of visiting stewards will be established.
Anyone interested in the activities of the Stewardship Committee is welcome to participate. Contact Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks, Pat McDougal, Rory McGregor, Bill Peyton for more details.
Results of Stewardship Drive
This year’s annual Steward Drive was phenomenal! We raised an additional $220,000 for the building project, and our pledges for next year’s operating budget, beginning July 1, 2009, increased over last year by $7,000 to $161,000. Many people increased their giving level, and likewise new members contributed for the first time. Such results beg the question, why do we give? Wayne Clarke, the Director of UUA Fundraising Services, lists six reasons:
1. Out of a sense of gratitude. We give because we acknowledge that we are fortunate to have already received many gifts. Giving can feel like an act of worship, a celebration of abundance.
2. To add meaning to our lives. Giving is one of the great joys of life. Giving provides a depth of purpose and helps us to focus beyond our personal boundaries.
3. Because we like to help people. We are, by nature, predisposed to be helpful. If we believe in the case that is being made, we will be motivated by the benefit that others will receive from our gift.
4. In response to people we trust. We give our gifts, call, and spiritual vocation to people we admire, to people who have a high level of integrity.
5. Because we believe in an organization’s mission. When we are passionately connected to a strong mission-driven case, we give.
6. Because someone asks. Many of us find it hard to ask others for gifts, but we often give willingly to someone who musters the courage to ask.
Thank you to all for your many gifts, your call, and your spiritual vocation, and thank you to the twenty-two visiting stewards who helped with this year’s annual pledge drive.
Philip Conover, co-chair, Stewardship Committee
Giving is not always easy, particularly during turbulent economic times. But, as in the past, we realize that giving is a form of spiritual practice and we adjust our lifestyles to make it possible. Through our pledges we commit to generosity as a way of life while declaring our service towards others, both within our beloved church community and elsewhere. This year is much like every other; we need to speak powerfully through our pledges. As Lauriel Amabile, Director of the UUA Annual Program Fund says, “Every gift breaks the barrier between the mundane and the extraordinary.”
March is a busy time for stewardship. On Saturday evening, March 7th, the annual pledge drive kicks off with a festive evening of fellowship and food. Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. and come hungry. If you need childcare, please inform a member of the Stewardship Committee. Then, on Sunday the 8th the pledge drive commences and continues for the next two weeks. During this time, much like last year, visiting stewards will meet with you to provide information about church programs as well as listen and bring back any thoughts you’d like to share. They will provide guidelines for giving and accept your pledge for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.
When your visiting steward calls to make an appointment, we hope you will welcome this opportunity to reflect on what our church and its congregation mean in your life and respond to the call with generosity.
Your Stewardship Committee: Philip Conover, Rory McGregor, Tim Monroe, David Schoenfeld, Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks, and Colleen Tuck.
Read an inspiring stewardship testimonial given at a service in March.
Building Community Together
We build our beloved community in many ways – through service, in worship, and by contributing financially. As we approach our annual Stewardship Drive, the Stewardship Committee asks you to especially consider your financial support of all that we do together.
We have two goals this year. Our first is to fully fund the budgets requests made by the church committees to support the good work of our church – music and worship, religious education for all ages, outreach to the larger community, and support for the denomination and the work they do. We also hope to close the gap in our capital fundraising to minimize – or eliminate – the need for a mortgage.
A delicious dinner and congenial fellowship on Saturday evening March 7 will kick off the campaign, followed by a special stewardship worship service the next morning led by our Interim Ministry Tricia Brennan. Before then, members of the Stewardship Committee will be asking many of you to help as Visiting Stewards. Our approach will be similar to last year’s, and we’ll offer training on both Thursday evening, March 5 and Saturday morning, March 7. Child care will be available for those who need it. So reserve these dates in your calendar and, when one of us calls to enlist your help, please respond, “Yes, I can!”
Together, our efforts will fund all our programs for the year beginning July 1 – an historic year as we complete construction and move into our new addition, enlarged and modernized to accommodate all we do together and fully accessible to everyone.
Your Stewardship Committee: Philip Conover, Rory McGregor, Tim Monroe, David Schoenfeld, Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks, and Colleen Tuck.
Capital Campaign Update
It brings me great joy to report that the capital campaign fund has over $300,000 in its account and is projected to raise over $700,000 by the end of December. Please keep those capital campaign pledges coming in, expenses will be accruing soon as the project gets further underway, and the earlier we receive your gifts the less we will need in a bridge loan as we wait for pledges. Meanwhile, the Stewardship Committee is pursuing other fundraising efforts in order to reduce the amount of long-term financing required. Not until final bids are in will we know how much of a mortgage loan is needed, stay tuned.
I recently finished paying my first year’s installment to the Capital Campaign. The words of Wayne Clarke, director of Congregational Fundraising Services, reverberated with me as I made out my check: “People are not born with a giving gene.” It was hard for me to fork over what was, for me, a large sum of money. It caused me to pause and twinge and reflect. I asked myself many times, why am I giving my savings to this project, particularly when there are so many other things I could spend the money on? Wayne Clarke offered some answers when he said, “We give because we acknowledge that we are fortunate to have already received many gifts.” He goes on, “Giving provides a depth of purpose that peels away several layers of our day-today superficiality. Giving takes us away from navel gazing and helps us to focus beyond our personal boundaries.” He concludes, “Giving can feel like an act of worship, a celebration of abundance.”
To all who made annual, or capital campaign, or both pledges – Thank you very much. As the calendar year is coming to a close, you may want to consider the tax implications of making your payments before the year ends.
Many of you pledged to contribute by the end of this calendar year (particularly to the capital campaign). We hope you will be able to fulfill these pledges.
If however, your circumstances will not allow you to do this, please, please let us know. We rely very heavily on the scheduling of pledges for managing both the church’s operations and the AIM project. If you have to revise either pledge in terms of the schedule of contributions or the total, we ask that you notify Susan Allison, Treasurer, about changes to annual pledges, or one of the members of the Stewardship Committee (David or Ellen Schoenfeld, Philip Conover, Rory McGregor, Colleen Tuck, or Tim Monroe) in the case of the capital campaign.
If you have not yet made a pledge to either the annual or capital campaign but are now in a position to do so, we would be most grateful to receive either or both. Please contact either the Treasurer or Stewardship Committee member as appropriate.
Gifts, Call, and Spiritual Vocation
Stewardship, as defined in the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship, is “The growing, nurturing, promoting, and building of congregant’s gifts, call, and spiritual vocation.” In this spirit, the Steward Committee, in conjunction with the Finance Committee and Board of Trustees, has begun work on next year’s operating budget. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming up:
In October and November the Finance Committee is asking all committees to begin formulating their budget requests for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2009. In January, the Finance Committee will combine these requests along with other information and send a proposed budget to the Board of Trustees. After their initial approval, the Stewardship Committee will begin its campaign, with this preliminary budget as our goal. The Stewardship campaign will culminate in March when we visit members and friends (much like last year) to ask for your support. Once completed and the Finance Committee and Board of Trustees know the total pledges and other income, they will prepare a final budget for members’ approval at the June Annual Meeting.
We look forward to an exciting year, highlighted by the construction of our new wing. We know the excitement generated by our hopes and plans will translate into another successful Stewardship campaign.
Your Stewardship Committee: Philip Conover, Rory McGregor, Tim Monroe, David Schoenfeld, Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks, Colleen Tuck
The Stewardship Committee planned and implemented both the AIM Capital Campaign and the Annual Canvass Campaign. To date the AIM Capital Campaign has raised $1,017,674 in pledges, and the Annual Canvas has raised $151,846. We initiated a new fundraising process whereby we utilized visiting stewards and made specific ask amounts for the capital project. This process was well received and the results were encouraging. The AIM totals are obviously a great success, but we would like to have raised more for the annual canvass. It is typical, however, in a campaign year for annual giving to remain flat or even decrease slightly. In future years I recommend that pledging members be asked to give a specific amount to the annual canvass that reflects an increase in their previous year’s gift.
Our experience this year tells us that the more communication with the congregation the better. The frequent articles in the Chalice, the frequent talks and announcements during services, and the large celebrations both at the beginning and end of the campaign were very beneficial and I think helped to boost our totals. The active participation and endorsement of the Minister was also a great boon to our efforts.
The late Dr. Karl Menninger was a leading psychiatrist and one of the founders of the Menninger Clinic, the well-known psychiatric hospital. In an interview in Newsweek Magazine in November of 1959 he said, “Money-giving is a very good criterion … of a person’s mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people.” If Dr. Menninger was right—and I believe that he was—this congregation is full of very sane people.
Just over a month ago we launched a campaign to secure the funds to make this meetinghouse accessible and to expand it to meet the needs of this burgeoning community, and to raise enough money to meet our increasing annual budgetary needs.
On the night of March 15th, we had a party downstairs to kick-off this effort and we announced that the goal for the building project was to raise $800,000. I am very pleased to be able to report that due to the generosity—the sanity—of so many in this community we have pledges for the building project totaling $813,720, and we have pledges for the annual budget of just over $130,000. This community in just a few short weeks has raised nearly a million dollars!!
We have surpassed the goal for the AIM project and we are going to keep going. The best news is that there are still many in the community that we have not heard from yet. We will continue to collect pledges sheets until everyone has had a chance to fill one out. We have one more week to go before we end this phase of the campaign. So if you haven’t been visited yet, and you haven’t had a chance to make your pledge—and for the sake of your sanity you feel that you must—please talk to me or to any member of the stewardship committee.
On April 27, after the service we will have a celebration of all that we have done together to make the dream of this project come true. That will be a good time to have some fun, pat ourselves on the back, and— it seems only appropriate—to get a little crazy.
One of the Stewardship Committee’s main jobs is to secure the resources necessary to make the Accessibility and Improvements to the Meetinghouse (AIM) Project a reality. There are many people who have been working very hard to nail down the last design details and to determine exactly how much the project will cost. As these important details are in the final stages of being worked out, the Stewardship Committee wanted to share some very good news.
Even though fundraising for the project has yet to “officially” begin, a small and very committed group has stepped forward early to show their support for the project, for this community, and to give us a great head start.
As of this writing we have received 6 gifts totaling $286,500!
These early gifts are very large and generous but they were not easy to make. They represent strong commitment and sacrifice on the part of the donors. They reflect a passion for our community and a willingness to do whatever it takes to move it forward.
While this is certainly terrific news and these early gifts are very impressive, I realize that some in the congregation may find these numbers intimidating. You might be thinking to yourself—as I think to myself—I want to support the AIM project, but I cannot give at the level that these early donors have clearly given. The important message to hear is that every single gift—big, small, in between—will matter. Every gift will help make this project a reality.
In the coming weeks we will be asking people to think about the AIM project, to think about how important this community is to you and to your family, and then make a decision to make a gift to both the AIM Project and the Annual Pledge Drive that is commensurate with your commitment to this community and with your own particular circumstances. We will be suggesting that people can make their gifts over a three-year period in the hopes that this will allow people to stretch.
On March 15 here at the church we will be holding an event to celebrate our early success and to kick-off both the Annual Pledge and Capital Campaigns. Then, in the days following, Stewardship members and others will be meeting one-on-one with everyone to ask for their commitments. The Stewardship Committee is grateful to our early donors and is now brimming with confidence as we move forward.
The AIM project is beginning to come into sharp focus. What has been a dream for a long time is coming true, but it will take every single one of us to make it happen.