How We Manage Our Finances

First Unitarian relies on donations. We are very grateful to members and friends for their gifts to our community. The generous support we receive maintains our treasured institution where we live into our mission to Build a Better World.

Annual Pledge Drive

Members of Unitarian congregations are asked to support their congregation with a pledged donation each year. At First, our Pledge Drive is in the fall (see news about our latest drive in the Congregational Annual Report (starting on page 16). We ask members and friends to indicate an amount they feel they can promise to give over the course of the following year. A stated financial commitment from each member, paid periodically, allows us to plan staffing and programs knowing there will be sufficient funds. The amount is up to you. Unitarian Universalist congregations generally endorse 3% of annual pre-tax household income as a benchmark pledge level, for those who are able to contribute in this way. We invite you to make a decision that fits your circumstances and your values.

Payments can be made by cheque, cash, or automated deposit from your bank account (this last method is most preferred due to its reliability and regularity.)

Once you make a pledge, we count on you to fulfill your promise. But we know that circumstances can change and pledges can’t always be fulfilled. We understand and ask that you simply advice advise the office if you must make a change to your pledge so we can adjust our cash flow expectations accordingly.

Online Pledging

Our congregation now offers paperless pledging. This saves hundreds of dollars previously spent on stationary and postage, and saves many house of volunteer and staff time. Members and friends can make a pledge online or request a paper copy by post, where they can enter pledge information quickly and confidentially. The form has basic encryption to protect private information, and we don’t ask for bank account or credit card numbers online. Responses are added to our membership database and enable Team Generosity to monitor pledge drive results.

Not sure how much to pledge? Please consider these points of reference when making a decision that fits your circumstances and your values. We respect your privacy in this process – individual pledge amounts are treated as confidential and access is limited to only those who need to know.

One-time donations are received with gratitude at any time and can be made by contributing a cheque or cash in an identified envelope during Sunday services or at the church office, or by donating online via Canada Helps.

Team Generosity would be happy to answer any of your questions. Please feel free to contact Team Generosity.

How First Manages Our Money

Thank you for thinking about an annual pledge to First. Pledging tells our staff and elected leaders what resources they will have available for programs and services during the year. We invite you to make a decision that suits your circumstances and your values. As points of reference, we suggest you consider First’s annual operating budget and the recommended Unitarian Universalist practice: many UU congregations recommend 3% of pre-tax annual household income as a meaningful personal commitment.

First is a completely self-funded community with an annual operating budget of approximately $500,000:

First’s operating budget supports our mission to Seek Freely, Connect Authentically, and Serve Passionately.

The following pie chart represents our spending from an outcomes perspective. Each slice of the pie includes the direct costs of the outcomes and services listed, plus a share of the indirect costs of our overall infrastructure (i.e. staff, insurance, equipment, etc.) All of our outcomes are also greatly enriched by the many uncharted hours of effort and talent provided by volunteers:

We know our budget grows over time, so we need to consider last year’s budget as a baseline, plus:

Plus  2%maintains staff salaries with cost of living adjustments
Plus  7%makes up for the supplements we have had in recent years from now-depleted special investment funds … thus avoiding a deficit
Plus  6%allows us to fund our aspirational budget items
Total+15%enables us to thrive!

Pledging as a Percentage of Income

The following chart provides a range of possible pledge levels based on different incomes and different choices about portion of income dedicated to the congregation. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations recommend 3% of pre-tax household income as a meaningful benchmark for many congregants:


One Time Donations

A one-time donation may be made conveniently through Canada Helps.

Other Ways of Giving

Planned Giving is a way to express your support for First after you are gone. Read more about how to make your wishes known and select the most suitable way for you to plan this type of gift.

First also welcomes donations of publicly traded securities. Such gifts can be not only a great benefit for First, but may also offer a welcome tax break for the donor.

Giving stock directly to First may be more prudent than selling the stock and then giving the cash to First. Here’s why. Say that 10 years ago you bought shares in a corporation for $15,000. Now that stock has a market value of $20,000 and now you want to give $20,000 to First. If you sold the stock, you would have to pay taxes on the capital gain of $5000 ($20,000 (the sale price) minus $15,000 (the price you paid)). That might be as much as $1,000 or more. Thus after taxes you would have less than $20,000, but rather, say, $19,000 to give to First. On your taxes you would claim that $19,000 on your taxes as a donation.

Now let’s say you didn’t sell the stock but instead gave it to First. In that case you would not have to pay the capital gains tax. So, First would receive the full $20,000 in stock. Furthermore, now you can claim a donation of $20,000 on your taxes. So, First gets more money and you save more on taxes. So giving stock directly to First (rather that selling the stock and giving cash) can work to your advantage. But please contact your tax advisor to confirm.

You may also choose to give some, but not all shares. In this example, you might decide, say, to give $10,000 in stock and keep the rest. Remember that you get a tax advantage only if there is a capital gain; that is, if the stock has gained in value. If the shares have lost value, it is probably more advantageous to you sell the shares, take a capital loss, and donate the cash. A gift of mutual funds might also be exempt from a capital gains tax, but confirm that with your tax advisor.

If you decide to transfer stock to First, you can use this form to instruct us and our investment manager to complete that transfer.

[In the interest of transparency – I think we need to add to this page to explain that we also have Funds that are managed separately from the Operating budget, but can be used to supplement Operating. See FMC Report (p 21). -Mo]