Frequently Asked Questions about Annual Giving and Pledging
What is a pledge? A pledge is a promise to give a certain amount of time, talent or treasure to the church during a certain time period. Each year in the fall, we ask for pledge commitments for the coming calendar year. We base our annual spending on these pledges. Usually when we talk about pledging, we talk about the Annual Giving Campaign.
What is the purpose of pledging, and why do we do it every year? Pledging is a way to engage the practice of generosity. Each year, as members of a faith community, we are encouraged to look at the resources that God has entrusted to us and reflect on how we can be generous with these resources. The Episcopal Church is a co-operative organization, where participants contribute from their resources (financial, spiritual, and professional) to support the functioning of the community. The majority of our yearly income (72%) comes from the pledges made annually by households who worship here. We ask participants in our faith community to make pledges each year because it helps us plan for the coming year. It also encourages the church to be honest about what we really need to accomplish our ministry.
Where does St. Paul’s get its money? St. Paul’s funds come almost entirely from donations from those who worship here. Our pledge goal of $385,000 represents 72% of our projected annual income for 2024. The remainder comes from our investments and our Sunday offering collections. St. Paul’s does not receive income from grants, the diocese, or the government.
What is our goal for the 2024 Annual Giving Campaign? Our goal for dollars pledged is $385,000. We want to increase the number of households who pledge from 122 to 144, or from 51% to 60% of the total possible households in the parish, which is 240.
How do I submit a pledge? Pledge cards will be mailed with a letter to each household on our mailing list a few days after Annual Giving Kick Off Sunday. You can also pick up pledge cards at church. Please fill out this card and return it to the offering plate on Commitment Sunday (October 29, 2023). You can also mail your card to the church or drop it off during office hours. We hope to meet our goal before the end of the year. To avoid confusion, we are not accepting pledges online this year.
Who sees my pledge? The rector and bookkeeper are the only two people who see the amount of a financial pledge. The stewardship team knows who has and has not made a pledge in the last 5 years. If you pledge time or talent to a ministry, the ministry leader may be notified.
How do I pledge time or talent? On the pledge card, you can check a box that says, “I pledge my time and talent to the following ministry….” We encourage you to consider how you can give time and talent in a new way, if you are making a commitment this way. We are happy to provide additional information about any ministry that interests you. If you need more room, feel free to add a note to your card.
Can I make a financial pledge and a pledge of time and talent? Of course! You can use the same pledge card and fill out both portions.
Can I change my pledge? Yes, you can change your pledge. It’s easy: you can submit a new card, with a note that says “Revised as of [Date].” You can also call or email the bookkeeper.
I have automatic giving set up through my bank or VANCO. Do I need to submit a pledge card? Yes, please do submit a new pledge card every year. Though we are very grateful that you have an automatic transfer set up, we are not able to plan around these gifts without the formal submission of a pledge card. We ask for this each year because it also gives us the opportunity to share with you what new things we are trying and what most excites us about our upcoming year of ministry.
How does our goal for 2024 compare to our actual pledges for 2023? We raised $315,000 in pledges for 2023. This means that our goal of $385,000 represents an increase of $70,000. Of a possible 240 households who worship at St. Paul’s, 122 made pledges for 2023. We are aiming for 60% of all households for 2024, which means 144 total pledges, or 22 new pledges this year.
What are my pledged dollars used for? The dollars that you pledge to the church fund every aspect of the ministry that takes place here. A detailed budget is presented yearly on the second Sunday of January. The 2023 approved budget can be found in our annual report, but these line items and dollar amounts do not always adequately convey what the money is doing. Pledge dollars support each child who learns about God’s love in Sunday School, each hospital visit that a clergy person makes, each paper bulletin and the time it takes to create it, each musical offering during worship, and so much more. Pledge dollars support the friendships that form here, the lives of ministry led by those who were baptized, confirmed, married, and buried here, and the everyday costs of our beautiful gathering space. They even support the ministry of our many volunteer leaders: staff time coordinates these ministries, facilitates communication, keeps the books, and building maintenance costs make it possible for us to donate work space to local organizations, including Chum.
How do I calculate what a reasonable pledge is for me or my family? “Reasonable” means different things to different people. Many faith traditions teach that one should calculate a percentage of wealth or income to designate as a gift. Many Christians suggest 10% as a worthy goal, which is also called a tithe. Muslims are instructed to give away 2.5% of their total wealth yearly. For many of us, this is a lofty goal that is hard to reach, but taking a small step of 1% or 2% can make a big difference. If all of our 240 households pledged the exact same amount, we would need each household to pledge $1604 annually for us to meet our goal of $385,000. Currently, the most common pledge at St. Paul’s is $1500 annually. We encourage each household to think about how to give back to God in thanksgiving for the good work that St. Paul’s has inspired in their lives. A good question might be: “What might stretch me a little, but not impact my wellbeing?”
How can I pay my pledge? There are several different ways to honor your pledge:
Make regular payments by check using the envelopes provided to all who request them.
Use your bank’s automatic draft system and set up regular weekly, monthly or other periodic payments directly to the church.
Use appreciated stocks or IRA payouts to pay your pledge.
Want to learn more about giving at St. Paul’s? More questions that we didn’t answer here? Members of the Annual Giving team are available after church each Sunday in October to chat. You may also choose to contact the Bookkeeper firstname.lastname@example.org