Making a Fair Share Commitment to Neighborhood Church
Kevin Kroeker, Board Member
Canvass is the time of year we are asked to consider our financial commitments to Neighborhood Church. Many of us approach the canvass with trepidation. Will someone be talking to me about money? Will I be pressured to give more? How do I know how much to give? These are questions that many of us struggle with annually. If you are new to Neighborhood, and especially if you do not have a history with organized religion, the canvass process may be particularly scary.
I have experienced many of these same anxieties over the years and would like to share some guidelines that have helped me address these concerns and become comfortable with my giving level. And, I hope to help inspire you to give generously to support Neighborhood Church.
As a Neighborhood Church board member, I am acutely aware of the financial needs of the church. I am also aware that we have had a long stretch of pledge drives that have yielded decreasing revenue. A number of well-heeled members that were strong supporters of the Church are no longer supporting us. That is a challenge the rest of us must overcome. We can do it, but we need everyone’s help.
How much should I give?
Most Christian churches and Jewish synagogues expect their members to tithe. This means that members give 10% of their income to their house of worship. I grew up in Christian churches and my ethical and religious commitments are still informed by these traditions. I have come to view tithing as a helpful guide to expressing generosity.
In the interest of full disclosure, we (my wife Lynn and I) utilize tithing in a loose manner. First, we tend to look at it as a long-term commitment. Some years we exceed the amount and others we don’t. Second, we view tithing to include our commitment to UUSC and other faith-based and non-religious organizations that support our ethical and religious values. That said, our largest contribution is to Neighborhood Church and we view that as a cornerstone to reflecting our generosity. We have seen lots of changes in our tenure at Neighborhood, but our financial commitment has not waivered. We try to increase our pledge when we can and at least stay flat in years in which our income has decreased.
Many of our members reject the strict rules of Christian Churches, such as tithing. But I ask you to consider: Is our church worth less to us than the houses of worship of our neighbors?
If tithing still has negative connotations to you or if it seems like an unreachable stretch, consider the UU version of tithing, called Fair Share. The UUA includes a Suggested Fair Share Contribution Guide on the uua.org website (https://www.uua.org/finance/apf/contribution-guide). It is a thoughtful guide that suggests donations of between 2% and 10% of annual income, depending on your commitment level and income level.
If you just became a member, we still need your pledge, but understand your contribution may grow over time. Many of our younger members may find it easier to make single gifts until a more steady income has been achieved. These are common situations and everyone must work through their commitment in ways that work for them.
Why should I give?
Another way to think about your commitment to the Church is to consider what an increase in our overall pledging revenue will mean to the Church. It will mean we have money for growing our children and youth programs, expanding educational programs for adult members, increasing our social justice impact in the community, continuing to grow our excellent music programs, and maintaining our beautiful campus. The opportunities for this church are limitless if we all pitch in to help.
This year our canvass theme is Giving and Growing. This blog has focused on the giving aspect but we will be talking more about “growing.” “How does Neighborhood Church help me to grow (personally, spiritually, etc.)?” “How does giving (giving in general/ to Neighborhood specifically) help me/ my family grow?” “How is our church growing, and how can our giving help the church grow?”
Thank you for your generous commitments to Neighborhood Church and its bright future!