The Spirit of Giving

Pledges account for the largest percentage of our operating budget, almost 70%. Meaning that each and every pledge plays a decisive role in the ability of First Church to work towards fulfilling its mission each year. That means WE really are the church.

Our pledges express gratitude, generosity, and commitment to our work in the world. In giving to our church we build and sustain a community devoted to love and service, reason and justice. Generosity increases our joy and enhances the difference we make together.

We all contribute to the health of this vibrant church community, and it takes financial support from each of us to fund our programs. These contributions are an investment we make in living out our values and creating a church where hope and healing thrive.


Annual Giving FAQs


What is the Annual Fund Drive (AFD)?

Each autumn, First Unitarian asks its members and friends to make a promise of financial support for the coming calendar year in the form of a calendar year pledge. New Members and friends who join us at other times of the year are invited to make a financial pledge for the remainder of the current calendar year, for example if you join in June, please pledge June through December.

Our Annual Fund Drive (AFD) provides the funds that make the life of our church possible.

This is the time for you to think deeply about the role of First Unitarian in your life. As congregants we count on this community to be here for us in intensely personal ways—for solace, support, and hope. This personal connection is only possible through generous congregant support.


What is a pledge?

A pledge is a promise to donate a certain amount of money to the church during the calendar year.

This year we are introducing the Auto-Renewing Pledge. Auto-Renewal is for those who view their pledge as a symbol of an ongoing commitment with First Unitarian and want their pledge to automatically renew itself even after the calendar year has ended. This frees us up to encourage a stewardship conversation centered on mission and purpose, enabling each of us to ask “How might my relationships and commitments deepen from year to year?” instead of just “Will I give support to the church?” Use the “Opt-In” box on the pledge form if you want to sign up for an auto-renewing pledge.

A pledge is a statement of intent; it’s not a legally binding obligation. Do not hesitate to pledge generously because you are uncertain about your financial situation. Pledges can be adjusted in times of shifting resources.


Who should pledge?

Members who sign the membership book, as well as non-members or friends of the church are ALL invited to pledge! If you have found services, solace, support or meaningful work here, don’t hesitate to make a pledge. This allows us to extend those same things to more and more people in our community and beyond.


Do I have to pledge?

Making and fulfilling an annual pledge deepens our faith and sustains First Unitarian for the benefit of us all and the wider community we serve.

*To be a voting member and receive a ballot, you must sign the Membership Book and fulfill a pledge. This requirement is a reflection of our shared responsibility to sustain the church.


When should I make my pledge?

We welcome your pledge anytime, but traditionally each autumn our members and friends are asked to make financial pledges to support the work and mission of First Unitarian Church for the coming calendar year. We call this the Annual Fund Drive (AFD).

New Members and friends who join us at other times of the year are invited to make a financial pledge for the REMAINING current calendar year.


How much should I pledge?

Individuals are encouraged to base their giving on their “adjusted annual income”, which is usually defined as your income after taxes, medical expenses, and childcare costs.

We recognize and deeply embrace the financial diversity of our congregation. To make this a church for all, we ask those who are able to, to carry a greater financial commitment to our beloved community.

Your pledge should fit your heart and your budget! Everyone’s circumstances are different. Let your pledge be an expression of joy. Every gift, no matter the amount, is important and cherished.

Some congregants have asked for a reference point when deciding how much to pledge. See the Giving Guide below. Others want to know our average pledge is just over $1500.


Is there a minimum annual pledge?

There is no minimum annual pledge. However church members and participating friends alike are asked to “pledge generously within their means.” The reason for this is that we count on the church to be here for us in a very supportive and personal way—unlike other organizations we may give to. We bring all of ourselves to this church as we make life’s journey.

If the amount of your gift makes a meaningful difference in your life, if you come away from Celebration Sunday satisfied that you’ve done all that your own circumstances permitted, you’ll know you made the right decision.

No gift is too small and ALL gifts are valued.

Can I pledge to a specific program or fund instead of to the Operating Fund?
All special designated gifts are certainly appreciated. But it is much more helpful to the church if gifts from our congregants can go to our Operating budget because that’s what supports our programs from year to year. We need those funds to ensure that the church runs properly from every angle.


How will my pledge be used?

Pledges pay for the nuts and bolts: worship and music, children’s and youth religious education, adult programs, and our many social justice endeavors. Pledges pay the salaries of the ministers and staff and the cost of operating and maintaining our facilities.


How do I pay my pledge?

  • Automatic Checking Withdrawal (church initiated)
    Most congregants contribute once each month or quarter by having their pledge amount automatically deducted from their checking or savings account. You just need to attach a voided check to your pledge form or send one to the church “ATTN: Controller”. The same account can be debited year after year as long as the account number does not change.
  • Bank Bill Pay (congregant initiated)
    You may You the congregant would need to go into your online bank account and set-up a payment to the church using your bank’s Bill Pay feature.
  • Secure On-Line Pledge Payments
    You may pay your pledge on-line through our secure payment center Vanco. Just go to:
  • Debit Card and Credit Card
    You may also pay your pledge using your debit card or credit card. Just write the number and the expiration date on the space provided on your pledge form. The same card can be debited year after year as long as the account number does not change. If the card number or expiration date changes, be sure to notify the church office.
    Note: 3% of your pledge will go to the credit card company instead of the church.
  • Pledge by Phone
    You can call our Church Controller Zaida Cooper for pledges by phone at: (503)228-6389 Ext. 212


What if I cannot pay my pledge?

Financial hardship should never be an obstacle to church participation. Through good times and bad, we are all in this together! Annual waivers are available to any member facing financial difficulty. No paperwork to fill out, no eligibility requirements, just a quick conversation with one of our Ministers or our Church Administrator will suffice. Please contact Kathryn Estey at 503-228-6389 Ext. 122.


Is my pledge tax deductible?

Because First Unitarian Church is a 501©3 non-profit religious organization, recognized by the IRS, your contribution are tax deductible. Our office issues quarterly pledge statements and end-of-the-year tax letters showing total contributions made.


Can plate offerings be in place of pledging?

While gifts of all kinds and amounts are appreciated money put into the plate on Sundays isn’t enough to pay for the church’s expenses. In fact, Sunday offerings represent just 3% of First Unitarian’s income, and are shared with other worthy causes.


What about the time I spend volunteering?

Members and friends of the church are encouraged to give regularly of time and talent as volunteers. Without our volunteers doing much of the church’s important work in the world, our paid staff budget would be much higher. But the church also requires financial support in order to fund our many programs and pay our bills. Volunteered time is highly valued in its own right, but can never replace financial contributions.


I still have questions, who can answer them?

For additional questions please contact contact Zaida Cooper at (503) 228-6389 Ext. 212 or email