First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

2022 Stewardship Campaign

Frequently Asked Questions

Why pledge and how is my pledge used?
Pledges support the annual budget of our congregation, providing worship and music, lifespan spiritual development, social justice work, pastoral care, congregational events, and much more. Pledge income also pays the salaries of our ministers and staff, and for the operation and maintenance of our facilities. Our pledges allow us to project the funding for our operating budget for the coming year. 

Do I have to pledge to be a member of First Unitarian Church?
Our bylaws require that we have a record of an identified financial contribution within the past year in order for you to retain status as an active member of the congregation (an active member can vote in congregational matters, or serve on the board or nominating committee). Most members choose to do this with a pledge, which is also the most helpful choice for the congregation to be able to financially plan. However, there is not a required pledge amount. If your financial situation does not allow you to make any financial contribution, please reach out to one of the ministers to discuss the possibility of a pastoral waiver. 

Do I need to be a member to pledge?
Anyone can make a pledge to the congregation, member or not. Non-members who choose to pledge are usually considered “friends” of the church. We have lots of friends, and are very grateful for them!

What is the difference between pledging and automated giving?
A pledge is a promise to contribute a certain amount of money within a specific period of time (this year, we are inviting people to make either an 18 month pledge for the period of July 1, 2021 - December 31, 2022 or a 12 month pledge for the period  of January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022). Automatic giving is one way to fulfill your pledge – you set up a monthly automatic withdrawal from your bank account or recurring credit card payment. If you have already set up automated giving but haven’t made a formal pledge, please still make a pledge so we officially know that you plan to continue giving this way.

How do I fulfill my pledge once I’ve made it?

  • Automated giving: you can set up secure automated giving on our new database Breeze, by clicking here and selecting “Give to Pledge 2022.” It's easier to sign into Breeze before beginning, but not necessary! Most people choose monthly giving. And some people choose to set up an auto-payment with their bank instead. Feel free to reach out to us at info@philauu.org or (215) 563-3980 if you have questions or need help getting set up. You can also still set up an automated gift on Vanco, another payment processing system by clicking here
  • Single gift: you can choose to pay your pledge in one or more lump sums securely online on Breeze or Vanco, or by sending a check to the church office at 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19103.
  • Other types of payments: Congregants may find that they are able to meet, or even enhance, their pledge by taking advantage of the following tax benefits that may be available to them. Please note that congregants should always consult with an accountant or tax professional to determine what tax benefits, if any, are available to them! Reach out to us at info@philauu.org or (215) 563-3980 to talk through options.
    • Donating Stock:  First Unitarian is able to accept stock as an alternative to a cash donation.  Congregants may find, after consultation with an accountant or tax professional, that they are able to reduce taxes on capital gains when donating stock directly to the church.
    • Qualified Charitable Distributions:  Congregants who are taking required minimum distributions out of certain tax-deferred accounts, such as an IRA or 401(k), may find, after consultation with an accountant or tax professional, that they can reduce their taxable income by making a Qualified Charitable Distribution to the church directly from a tax-deferred account.  


How does a pledge relate to the weekly offering at Sunday services?
The money received in the weekly offering also goes towards our congregation’s annual budget (and is sometimes shared with outside organizations), but does not count towards a pledge unless specifically designated by the giver. If you wish to pay your pledge during the weekly offering, the easiest ways are:

  •  text 215-709-5095 with the amount you want to give followed by the word “Pledge” [for example, to pay $20 towards your pledge, text “20 pledge” to 215-709-5095 during the weekly offering],
  •  log into Vanco and designate your gift as a pledge payment, or, 
  • if you are in the church Sanctuary, you can put a check or cash in a special envelope in the donation box that designates a pledge payment. 


How will this year work compared to previous years?
Last year we experimented with a Fall campaign due to the uncertainty of the pandemic during the previous Spring (when we used to run our annual stewardship campaign). We discovered that the Fall was a good time in the life of the congregation to run a campaign, and so this year we are transitioning to a stewardship campaign based on the calendar year (January - December) rather than the church’s fiscal year (July - June). While we believe this will be best for the long-term life of the congregation, it means this year is a bit more complex as we make the transition.

Because our last fiscal year ended in June, but we are moving to a pattern of calendar year stewardship campaigns, there is a 6 month “gap” between when our last stewardship campaign ended (6/30/21)  and the new one begins (1/1/22). To “mind the gap,” we are asking, for those who can, to continue their giving between July and December, and make an 18 month pledge that counts their giving from 7/1/21-12/31/21, and runs through 12/31/22. Those who would prefer to start a new pledge with the new calendar year are invited to make a 12 month pledge that runs from 1/1/22-12/31/22.

So, for example, 18 month pledges might look like this:

  • If you have given, or plan to give, a lump sum pledge payment at some point between 7/1/21 and 12/31/21, pledge the amount of that payment plus whatever you intend to give between 1/1/22 and 12/31/22. 
  • If you have been giving monthly since July and plan to continue, add up the total of your monthly payments between 7/1/21 and 12/31/21 and the monthly payments you plan to make between 1/1/22 and 12/31/22 and pledge that amount. For example, if you give $100 a month, an 18 month pledge amount would be for $1,800 rather than a 12 month pledge of $1,200.
  • We will “count” any pledge gifts you have made since July towards your 18 month pledge.

12 month pledges might look like this:

  • If you are pledging for the first time, think about what you want to give during the calendar year of 2022 and pledge that amount.
  • If you were giving monthly up until June of 2021 and then stopped giving, but can’t “make up” for the past 5 months of gifts, just think about what you want to give during the calendar year of 2022 and pledge that amount.

We recognize that this is more complex than usual, and are grateful for your flexibility!

How will it work for the stewardship campaign to run on a different calendar from the fiscal year?
In years past, we would only pass a Spring budget for the coming fiscal year based on the amount the Spring stewardship campaign had raised. This helped the congregation feel fairly confident that we would be able to pay our bills and not go into a deficit.

In recent years, however, we have moved to drawing up a budget based on an estimate of what we believe we can receive from pledges in the coming fiscal year, rather than using the pledge campaign as a firm budgetary number. This reflects the reality of our membership; in other words, while some people need to adjust their pledges down during the year due to unforeseen circumstances, and some people move away or leave the congregation, we also have new people joining the congregation during the year and others who overpay their pledges when their finances are good. 

Given that our budgeting has, for several years, been made upon an estimate of anticipated pledging, rather than a firm pledge campaign number, our Finance Working Group, Administrative staff, and Board feel confident that separating the fiscal year and calendar year will not inhibit our ability to make wise budgeting decisions. In fact, we may find that this new system even helps us to predict our financial situation further in advance than our old system. New systems like our database Breeze also enable us to track financial giving more easily than in the past.

Bottom line, we want our stewardship campaign to be as easy as possible for our congregants, and we trust that this new system will not harm our ability to make wise budgetary decisions.

Can I change my pledge if my circumstances change?
Yes! We understand that things change, especially in these unprecedented times. If you need to adjust your pledge down or up, just contact info@philauu.org or (215) 563-3980 and we will take care of it, no questions and no judgement!


How much should I give?
Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, but we ask that people pledge an amount that feels generous within their means. It costs about $2,000 per adult to sustain the church for the year, but that number is far beyond the means of some of us, and for others of us with greater means, $2,000 wouldn’t feel generous. If you are looking for a guide based on income, the table below might be helpful.


May I volunteer instead of pledging?
Our volunteer gifts and financial gifts both make this church powerful and sustainable. We depend upon both to live out our mission.

What is this year’s pledge campaign goal?
The calendar year 2022 pledge campaign goal is $300,000, which accounts for the growth in our membership over the past couple of years, our commitment to pay our staff according to fair compensation guidelines, and the technical demands of our new hybrid model of congregational life.

Should I pledge alone or with my partner/family?
We track pledges from “pledge units” which can mean individuals, couples, or families. Some couples choose to pledge separately, though most pledge together. The choice is yours!

Is it possible to earmark a pledge for a specific purpose?
As a democratic community, our budgets are created to serve the whole of our work together. All pledges support the entire congregation.

Are my payments to First Unitarian Church tax-deductible?
To the extent you itemize deductions, yes. Donations to Churches are the same as donations to any 501c3 charity – fully tax deductible.

Who do I contact with questions?
For most questions, our dedicated administrative staff will be able to help. Contact them at info@philauu.org or (215) 563-3980. If you want to speak to a member of the stewardship team (Anne Slater, Wendy Jastrzab, Bernie Taylor, Carol Orme-Johnson, Phyllis Belk, and Rev. Abbey Tennis) email stewardship@philauu.org. We are all happy to help with any questions you have!

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Are you a member or friend, and looking for access to Breeze? We invite you to watch the webinar provided by Eliza, and then follow this link to create your username and password and link to your existing profile. You will then be able to view your profile and use the database as a directory. Email Hye Sung Gehring, the Communications Director, at communications@philauu.org, if you have any questions!

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