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Sharing about Congregational Finances & Fundraising

The UU-Money email list is for "Information Sharing among Society Finance Leaders". This page goes beyond the limit of "finance leaders" to anyone in UU congregations who are concerned about finances and fundraising. If you have a resource to share, please add it here.

Reading List Recommendations

What financial/stewardship books would you recommend to your board of directors and/or church leaders? View the [UU-Money Recommended Book List].

Online Pledging

To simplify the paperwork involved in pledging, you can either just put a form on the web for printing out, or actually let people fill in an online form with the amount they expect to pledge for the year. In the latter case, it would be a good idea to use a secure web site (enable SSL/TLS).

Examples:

Recommended Books

A list of books recommended by other UU-money subscribers can be found online at UU-Money_Recommended_Book_List

Online Donation Services

Which web donation services are you using? (Please answer all questions under the service you use or add a new one if yours is not listed there. Do not list Shopping Services that give donations here - you can start a new topic for that if you'd like.)

Tips for Using Online Services

  • Read your agreement
  • Check the policies about privacy and security
  • Make sure you will be notified by email of any transactions
  • Transfer any funds that you have received into your account as soon as possible
  • If you haven't received an email from them in a month's time, check the account to make sure there have been no transactions
  • Use credit cards that will not charge you if you report that your number was stolen (most charge $50 per transaction until you notify them of theft, but I find that many will waive that if it is "identity theft" - using your number without your permission or direct access to your card)
  • Use checking accounts from banks that will cover unauthorized use of your account and that don't have large sums of money in them if possible (you can set up a special account and then transfer the money to the usual account)
  • Always login from your website browser, and never from an email. This will prevent you from "phishing" -- an online criminal tactic where fraudulent email is sent in an attempt to gain your account and password information.

NetworkforGood

  • What are the benefits of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find good about it. E.g. Does it allow one-time, monthly, and annual donations? Does it allow more than one kind of fundraiser for your organization at one time? Does it allow a custom designed web page for your donation page? Is it quick and easy to sign-up?)

Originally, NfG absorbed the credit card charges and passed 100% of the donation to the charity. When their dot.com funding ran out, they started charging 3%.

  • What are the disadvantages of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find bad or annoying or not optimal about it. E.g. Does it only allow one type of donation? Does it take a long time to sign up?)

It's just another credit card donation service, no reason to use it rather than anyone else.

  • What does it cost? As of what date? (This will need to be updated if changed.)

Enter your answer here. I was just looking at this site and on brief examination, it appears to cost 3% of each transaction (to accept credit card payment). This appears to me in line with the cost of PayPal. [- Tom Upshaw]

  • Who uses it? How long? How many donations have you received from this service? Please give a link to your donation information on your web site.

Enter your congregation or organization's information here.

Amazon.com Honor System

Link: Amazon.com Honor System

  • What are the benefits of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find good about it. E.g. Does it allow one-time, monthly, and annual donations? Does it allow more than one kind of fundraiser for your organization at one time? Does it allow a custom designed web page for your donation page? Is it quick and easy to sign-up?)
    • Amazon.com is a trusted name, most UUs will have bought something from the site at one time or another. There are several point-n-click options to create what are called payboxes to place on your website as well as a paypage, which is a "landing page" that fully describes how the Amazon Honor System works and answers questions users might have. Money is a one way deposit into your checking account, which reduces the chance of online fraud.
  • What are the disadvantages of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find bad or annoying or not optimal about it. E.g. Does it only allow one type of donation? Does it take a long time to sign up?)
    • Not everyone is an Amazon.com customer. Some people really don't like Amazon, and will choose not to support them. Limited customer service. Limited to U.S. customers only. You'll need to provide a credit card to register. Not suitable for anything other than asking for donations or selling "digital content".
    • Amazon asks you to put a link on your page to an image served from their servers, in which they put a customized message. This allows them to track visits by all users to your site (see Wikipedia:web bug). If the person browsing has an Amazon "cookie" indicating that they are an Amazon customer, the message is personalized to them. Both of these practices can be alarming to users, who may expect privacy when dealing with matters of religion.
  • What does it cost? As of what date? (This will need to be updated if changed.)
    • As of 08/04/04, the rates are 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
  • Who uses it? How long? How many donations have you received from this service? Please give a link to your donation information on your web site.

Enter your congregation or organization's information here.

CharityWeb.net

  • What are the benefits of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find good about it. E.g. Does it allow one-time, monthly, and annual donations? Does it allow more than one kind of fundraiser for your organization at one time? Does it allow a custom designed web page for your donation page? Is it quick and easy to sign-up?)

Enter your answer here.

  • What are the disadvantages of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find bad or annoying or not optimal about it. E.g. Does it only allow one type of donation? Does it take a long time to sign up?)

Enter your answer here.

  • What does it cost? As of what date? (This will need to be updated if changed.)

Enter your answer here.

  • Who uses it? How long? How many donations have you received from this service? Please give a link to your donation information on your web site.

Enter your congregation or organization's information here.

PayPal

  • What are the benefits of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find good about it. E.g. Does it allow one-time, monthly, and annual donations? Does it allow more than one kind of fundraiser for your organization at one time? Does it allow a custom designed web page for your donation page? Is it quick and easy to sign-up?)
  • What are the disadvantages of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find bad or annoying or not optimal about it. E.g. Does it only allow one type of donation? Does it take a long time to sign up?)
    • Some paypal users like Abiword have complained that they lost a bunch of money that people donated to them because someone stole it and paypal did not insure the loss (not being a "financial institution" or something like that) [1]. Most observers recommend that you withdraw money donated to you on a regular basis rather than leaving it at paypal as if it was a bank. See also paypalsucks.com. There is a class action suit for which PayPal is paying, though it claims no responsibility. You can see details about it at https://www.paypal.com/settlement/. Individual comments about this can be left on the "discussion" page (click on the tab at the top of the page).
    • As an anti-fraud measure, PayPal limits withdrawals to $500 per month when you first open an account. This limit can be removed when you verify your identity with 2 out of the 3 following items: a credit card, a bank account, and a social security number. We did not have a credit card, and they would not accept an employer identification number in lieu of an SSN. One of our employees had to submit their SSN for verification.
  • What does it cost? As of what date? (This will need to be updated if changed.)
    • As of 08/04/04, the standard charge is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. There are discounts based upon monthly volume : 3,001 to 10,000 is 2.5%; 10,001 to 100,000 is 2.2%, and a monthly volume over $100,000 drops the rate to 1.9%. The discounted rates all have the baseline of 30 cents per transaction.
  • Who uses it? How long? How many donations have you received from this service? Please give a link to your donation information on your web site.
    • The First UU Church of Austin uses PayPal to solicit online donations to support our web ministries. We are averaging about $50 to $100 a year through PayPal donations, and approximately $400 to $500 per year from people who choose to write a check instead. We also use the site Mollyguard.com to manage event registrations, and have processed approximately a thousand dollars through the combination of these two services.
    • as of August 2009, UU Women and Religion has been using PayPal since to process transactions for their store which offers curricula like "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven," books and CDs. Hundreds of dollars a month are processed this way, and funds are withdrawn monthly.
    • In 2009, Berrien UU Fellowship in St. Joseph Michigan used PayPal to process credit cards for their annual Auction. Worked flawlessly.
    • since 2008, Central Midwest District has used PayPal to process their Chalice Lighter donations. Very successfully utilized. Will also be processing workshop registrations starting in 2009.

thedatabank.com

  • What are the benefits of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find good about it. E.g. Does it allow one-time, monthly, and annual donations? Does it allow more than one kind of fundraiser for your organization at one time? Does it allow a custom designed web page for your donation page? Is it quick and easy to sign-up?)

Enter your answer here.

  • What are the disadvantages of this service over others? (If you don't know, describe what you find bad or annoying or not optimal about it. E.g. Does it only allow one type of donation? Does it take a long time to sign up?)

Enter your answer here.

  • What does it cost? As of what date? (This will need to be updated if changed.)

Enter your answer here.

  • Who uses it? How long? How many donations have you received from this service? Please give a link to your donation information on your web site.

Enter your congregation or organization's information here.


Fundraising Ideas

Besides asking for pledges and contributions, how do you raise funds for your congregation or UU organization or program? Please include details, how much time was spent and how much money was raised, along with the name of your congregations or organization and program, if applicable.

"Enter your successful fundraising details here"

Service Auctions

Members offer services. Other members bid on them.

How to Organize them?

Service auctions require a lot of data processing: donations described and printed in a catalog; logs printed for silent auction items; bidders entered; bids entered during the auction; summaries of purchases printed for buyers; thank you notes printed for donors; summary reports; and so on.

The MemInfodata system provides a complete facility for running an auction, making the process easier and more efficient. Bids during a live auction can be entered into one or more computers on a network, so that invoices for bidders are available at the close of bidding. Because it is linked to the database of members and friends, the information such as addresses and phone numbers does not have to be re-entered. A free demonstration version is available at www.meminfo.com.

The TogetherAuction system gives your church or fellowship it's own auction website where members can submit donations and view an online catalog and event calendar. During the auction, it becomes a multi-user networked sales entry system, with on-the-spot statements that give buyers and donors contact information for each other. It features automated email reminders for dated events (dinners), and you can also send out customized emails with links to participants' statements...etc. More information is available at http://togetherauction.com.

Having a computer based system permits bidders to bid individually on items. For example, a dinner offered for eight persons might be purchased by three couples and two individuals. It is quite easy during a live verbal auction to adjust the bid price to a point where the number of bids equals the units available in the item.

What Are Popular Services?
  • Dinners; Chinese, German, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Vegan. This requires some fancy footwork in the bidding department, so that the 8th-highest bidder doesn't pay $50 for a seat at the dinner for 8, while the highest pay $80 for the same dinner. We usually say "How many will pay $20 per person for this dinner? $30? $ 40? Bidding stops when there are fewer than 8 people willing to pay the bid.
  • Wine Tasting parties (Designate a driver).
  • 2, 4, 8 hours of baby sitting (Teens can contribute to their church.)
  • 2, 4, 8 hours of professional services, if a member is a CPA, gardener, carpenter, plumber, mechanic, electrician . . . .
  • 10 Hours of research by a competent amateur genealogist with a subscription to census images.
  • A day on a sailboat.
  • A day on a motorcycle.
  • Tennis, Golf, Horseback Riding or Poker lessons.
  • Weekend at a cabin in the mountains.
  • Helping someone write a song and record it.
  • Two hours air time on a web radio station.
  • A dedicated parking spot (close to the door) at church for a year.
  • The right to pick one sermon topic for the Minister to deliver. (Not write the sermon - pick a topic you'd like to hear, then the minister writes and delivers the sermon.)
  • A ban on your least-favorite hymn until next year. (Guaranteed to annoy someone else, so be careful. The hymn you detest is someone else's cherished favorite.)
  • Individual hours of on-site computer help. This has only become popular in the last 5 years or so.
Search UUA for auction ideas

UUA website search for "auctions" brings up several good articles: uua.org search

Split the Plate

Several congregations have policies which share collection plate money with non-profit organizations. Here is a collection of sample policies and recommendations.

Personnel Costs

A question frequently seen on UU-Money is "what percentage of the church budget is usually spent on personnel costs?" The general answer is that it varies a lot. Here is some actual data; feel free to add to or update it if you have more.

Annual Budget %age of Budget for Personnel Membership Church As Of
$330,000 80% of pledge income 220 Oak Ridge [TN} UU Nov-07
$239,000 58% 175 UUC of the New River Valley [Blacksburg VA] Nov-07
$97,000 50% 70 UUC of the Palisades [Englewood NJ] Nov-07
$621,000 62% 500 First UU Houston [TX] Nov-07
72% River Road UUC [Bethesda MD] Nov-07
$521,750 61.40% 380 Unitarian C of Harrisburg [PA] Nov-07
$776,500 64% 693 First UU Columbus [OH] Nov-07
$657,340 65% 618 First Univeralist Church of Denver [CO] Nov-07
$998,848 68% 810 First Unitarian C of Rochester [NY] Nov-07
$598,750 63% 450 Unitarian C in Summit [NJ] Dec-07