Giving & Pledging Overview
We are grateful you are part of the Emerson family. We hope you are nurtured and challenged here, and that you are excited about the possibilities for the future of our faith and our community, as together we build a better world.
Your support of Emerson determines our ability to make that future of beloved community a reality. By giving generously, you can help ensure Emerson will continue to provide the programs we have today, and support the values we seek to pass on to our children and others who come after us. Every pledge matters! Your pledge is important to the future of our church. It is important to your life as well.
- What’s a pledge?
A pledge is a promise to donate a certain amount of money to the church and its programs during the calendar year. It is a promise that we make to each other, to sustain the faith that sustains us. Pledges account for the largest percentage of our operating budget—70 to 80%. So every new pledge plays a decisive role in our church’s ability fulfill its mission each year.
- I’ve heard the stewardship campaign for 2018 has been postponed because of Hurricane Harvey. Why, and when will it begin?
Many of our fellow Emersonians were adversely impacted by Harvey, and the church leadership felt it would be best to let our beloved community focus on recovering their lives in the aftermath of the worst storm ever to hit Houston.
The formal stewardship campaign will begin January 2, 2018. This will have an impact on our budgeting process for 2018, so the Board of Trustees has opted to propose a six-month budget in December, and then a full budget for 2018 at the end of March 2018.
We urge those of you able financially and emotionally to make your pledge for 2018 now, and we ask that you do so as soon as possible. Furthermore, we ask you to consider stepping up your contribution to help those in the congregation who may find 2018 a difficult year to provide their normal level of support. This will help determine the first half-year budget for 2018.
For those not ready to commit to a pledge but able to continue support of the church, are ask you to continue contributions at your 2017 rate (or more). But for those of you not yet emotionally or financially able to make a commitment right now, we understand and support your recovery.
- What is the theme of the 2018 stewardship campaign?
Embracing our beloved community.
This theme supports the idea that our contributions of time, talent, and treasure are multiplied by the communal nature of the covenant we make by being a member of this congregation. This is even more true this year as our community comes together to help one another through the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.
- I don’t know what my income will be this year. Should I still make a pledge?
Yes. First and foremost, a pledge is about your willingness to help share, as you are able, in the support of Emerson.
So the first question when thinking about a pledge is not, “How much?” Instead, the first question is “How can I commit to share in the support of Emerson, in time, talent and treasure?” Answer that question as best you can for the present moment and then provide that commitment to the Emerson community
Q: What’s the 2nd Question?
It is: how can I become part of a conversation about Emerson’s mission?
See our blogs, take part in small group discussions, or perhaps talk with Becky or Sam. Emerson’s mission is not so much a declarative statement as it is an unfolding understanding about how we intend to be of service to each other and the wider world. So it will be revised, amended, and deepened over the months and years ahead.
- What is the Suggested Fair-Share Contribution Guide?
The guide provides a voluntary and flexible guideline for your annual pledge. The Thoreau UU congregation of Stafford developed it and it has been adopted by the UUA. A copy is posted on the Emerson Web site at www.emersonhouston.org/FairShare. The guide is intended for your private use and your fair share calculation is not intended to be shared with anyone in the congregation. Use of the Fair Share Guide is voluntary, and we urge everyone to examine it.
It is easy to use.
- First, determine your adjusted gross income. For many people, that number comes from your most recent income tax form.
- The Fair Share guide allows for additions or deductions from that for extraordinary income or expenses. Simply find the range of that number in left-hand side of the table.
- From that line, move to the right, stopping at the column indicating your level of commitment, ranging from Supporter, to Sustainer and Visionary through the Transformer Level.
The guide is progressive, indicating those with larger incomes can afford to give a higher percentage of their income. Depending on income and commitment level, the suggested pledge amount ranges from 2% to 10% of annual income.
People with highly variable income, or retirees, can find suggestions for determining their modified gross income in a blog entry of by our consultant — Stewardship for Us — at http://stewardshipforus.com/answers-questions-suggested-fair-share-contribution-guide/.
Q: When should I make a pledge?
As soon as you possibly can (see Harvey question above).
Q: I understand that personal visits with visiting stewards are a central part of the stewardship campaign. Should I wait for that visit before I pledge?
No. Make your pledge now, if you are ready. Not everyone will be visited by a visiting steward every year, but if you would like a visit, contact the office and be sure your name is on the list.
Q: What is a Visiting Steward?
We are re-inventing and re-invigorating our visiting steward program to connect our relationships to our sense of purpose. Visiting stewards engage in one-on-one conversations in short meetings with many of our members. We can share our visions, concerns, and ideas on how to work together to create the world we know is possible, while also discussing our stewardship commitments in support of our shared goals.
A few things we would like you to know about the program:
- The visit not a sales pitch, it is simply a friend talking to a friend about our shared values as UUs and being a part of Emerson.
- Visiting stewards receive professional training and preparation for this role from our stewardship consultant, Bill Clontz. They will be relaxed and ready to engage with you in pleasant, meaningful conversations.
- Some of you will be asked to attend a meeting about the program, where you can decide if you could be a visiting steward.
Please open your mind and heart and embrace this opportunity to not only share your vision and ideas for our congregation and the wider community we serve, but also become closer friends with a fellow Emersonian.
Q: Can I talk with Becky or Sam about my pledge?
Q: How can I find out what I pledged last year?
Email: Karen Van Horn, Emerson Business Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What happened to the Fall Fellowship Dinner?
It will still happen but its focus really is “fellowship” and not finances. It is also another opportunity to engage in conversation about the mission of Emerson and our capacity to have an impact on the Greater Houston Area.