What Is the Suggested Fair Share Contribution Guide?
Many people are surprised to learn that the Fair Share Guide is not a creation of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). It was first developed in the 1990’s by the Henry David Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Stafford, TX and subsequently adapted by the UUA as a helpful resource for all of us.
The Guide is a valuable tool in congregational giving for two reasons:
- It provides a range of practical gift levels for the individual or household making a new pledge to consider
- It serves as a social justice tool, in that it recognizes people have varying capacities to give, based on their resources and other financial responsibilities, while providing recognition for giving at various levels.
How Does the Guide Work?
The financial commitment levels in the Guide are suggestions, with a start point of 2% of adjusted income for congregants earning up to $1,000 per month and at the other end of the spectrum, the guide suggests a full 10% commitment of adjusted income, regardless of a congregant’s income level. Each of us has to make our own decisions about the right level of financial commitment to make; the Guide is an excellent first step in making that decision, every time we make it.
Even small adjustments can make a big difference. For example:
Suppose that every day you collected the loose change you had; it probably comes to about a dollar on most days. If you were to add that loose change to your pledge, it would add up to a very welcome $365 annual increase. If everyone in the average size congregation of about 100 members did the same, that congregation would find itself with over $36,000 in new resources. Could your congregation use a gift of that size? That is the power of working together and of making best use of even small amounts
Using the Suggested Fair Share Contribution Guide
The Guide can be used effectively throughout your congregation.
- Have it visible and available for your members to refer to often, both in your online presence and in hard copy on campus, always with explanations on how to use the Guide, not just a chart all by itself.
- Use it during stewardship discussion and during your budget drives to remind each other that this handy tool is available to help each of us decide what commitment level is right for us as members of the congregation.
- Use it with new members. If they have arrived from another faith tradition, they may be accustomed to a different fundraising style and a different set of financial expectations. If new members have not been previously affiliated with any religious organization they probably have no idea about the giving expectations of their new faith community, and the guide will serve as one tool to help them determine their level of financial commitment.
- Use the Guide with long-time congregants who have made historically small financial commitments. Let the Guide remind them that a significant financial commitment is one of the responsibilities of membership.
- Ensure the question “Is this a Fair Share Commitment?” is included on your commitment cards or pledge forms. This provides an additional reminder of the importance of Fair Share giving, enables the leadership to gage the level of Fair Share giving in the congregation, and allows opportunities to thank those who have made those commitments, at all levels.
The question is sometimes asked, “How do we know this is actually a Fair Share level of contribution?” The short answer is that this is an honor system. Ensure people understand what is meant by the question, and then trust their answers. The vast majority will state it correctly.
Some people may find it necessary to first make a commitment to move toward their suggested financial Fair Share goal over time. It might be a three-year process or even a five-year process for some of us, but we can start the journey today.
Moving toward a Fair Share financial commitment, whether quickly or in a steady, intentional way is a welcome process that builds community, instills a spirit of personal stewardship.
It reminds us all that this is our congregation and our UU movement – this is what we make it, this accomplishes what we resource it to do.
If you have engaged a Stewardship Consultant through this office, you will find she or he eager to help you make best use of the Fair Share Guide as a part of their service to your congregation