Frequently Asked Questions about Pledging at First Parish – 2017

What is this 2-year financial commitment I have been hearing about?
As we prepare to call a new Lead Minister in May 2017, the Standing Committee has asked congregants to make a 2-year financial pledge rather than our traditional one year pledge. We want to demonstrate our deep dedication to our congregation and its ministries so that the minister we select knows we are serious about living into our mission. A 2-year pledge means we are committing to donate funds through June 30, 2019.

Will I be asked to pledge again next spring?
Make a 2-year commitment now and you will not be asked again next spring. The office will send reminders in spring 2018 to confirm your level of support.

What if my circumstances don’t allow making a commitment of two years?

Although a 2-year pledge is highly appreciated, we also welcome a single year pledge for July 2017 to June 2018. Also, if your circumstances change you can adjust your pledge at any time by contacting the Congregational Administrator (office@firstparishcambridge.org).

Why is making a pledge important?
Pledges made in advance let us set goals for the coming year, by helping us create the budget and plan program support.

Am I being asked to donate extra money? — Didn’t I just make a pledge a few months ago?
In the spring of 2016 we committed to support First Parish from July 2016 to June 2017. Those funds have been spent during the year on current operations. The 1- or 2-year pledge you make now will fund future years, beginning July 1 2017.

How does First Parish use the money I donate?

Your donation supports the mission of First Parish. Money you give is used to pay for all of our activities – Sunday morning worship services, Religious Education, Music, Social Justice work, minister and staff salaries, community events, and more.

When do I pay my pledge?

You can pay at your convenience for the upcoming church budget years. July 1 2017 to June 30 2018
July 1 2018 to June 30 2019
Payments against your commitment can be made at any time starting now but should be completed by June 30 of each year.

How do I make payments on my pledge?

Checks can be mailed to the church or left in the collection basket. Write “annual fund” on the memo line of the check.
You can set up a “bill pay” if your bank offers online banking. Simply set up First Parish as a vendor and indicate “Pledge” in the memo line.
You can “set it and forget it” using First Parish’s secure automatic credit or debit card payment system. Click the DONATE button on the First Parish website at www.firstparishcambridge.org. You can arrange for one-time or recurring payments, now or in the future.
Cash can be placed in an envelope and left in the church office or placed in the collection basket. Be sure the envelope has your name on it. You will find envelopes in the foyers.
You can donate stock directly to the church. Contact Carol Lewis (office@firstparishcambridge.org) for instructions on stock donations.

Will I receive a bill or statement?
Yes. Statements indicating how much you pledged and how much of that pledge has been received are mailed quarterly three times a yearand an additional reminder is sent prior to the annual meeting in June. Calendar year statements are sent out in January for tax purposes.

If I have to, how can I change my pledge?
Contact Carol Lewis, our Congregational Administrator, at office@firstparishcambridge.org or 617-876-7772 to make any changes to your pledge during the year.

Is it possible to “earmark” a pledge?
No. Pledges go to First Parish’s general operating expenses. Decisions about what income goes to what expense is made during our annual budgeting process. The budget is voted on by the membership at the June business meeting.

What is a “fair share” donation?

A fair share donation is a gift of a percentage of your income that is consistent with and reflective of your level of involvement at First Parish. A fair share giving guide is available at our website. We ask that you consider giving 1%-5% of your income.
We ask everyone to give as generously as possible to support our community.
People with limited incomes are asked to donate in the $26 (50 cents a week) to $260 (5 dollars a week) range.

Do I have to pledge to be a member of First Parish?
Membership at First Parish has both privileges and responsibilities. Our bylaws stipulate that financial support is one of the responsibilities of membership. We strongly encourage members to make a fair share donation consistent with their individual circumstances.
In order to vote at business meetings, a “financial contribution of record,” that is, a contribution identified as from you, must have been made within the previous 12 months.

Must I be a member to make a financial commitment?
No. If you are an active participant, you are encouraged to donate to support First Parish and its ministry.

How does the financial commitment I make relate to the weekly collection during Sunday Services?
We take a collection every Sunday. Half of the money that is not designated otherwise goes to a social justice agency as part of our congregation’s service to the broader community. The other half goes to the First Parish operating budget. The weekly collection serves a spiritual purpose in allowing us to reflect on generosity and giving each week.

Some people meet their pledge by putting a check or cash (in a marked envelope) into the weekly collection plate. If you write “pledge” or “annual fund” on the memo line of your check or on the envelope, it is considered designated funds and counts towards your pledge. A check without a note on the memo line is considered undesignated and is shared with our shared offering partner that month.

How does the pledge relate to purchasing items at the auction or contributing to a fundraiser?
Purchasing an auction item or contributing to a fundraiser does not impact your pledge.

What about non-monetary gifts to the church?
Items donated for the auction or other activities can be acknowledged for tax purposes. Contact Carol Lewis if you need documentation. Consult your tax advisor for specifics regarding tax deductions.
We appreciate non-financial gifts of value, such as volunteering your time, however, they do not replace the importance of financial pledges.