Stewardship and Giving

There are two words we use to describe the financial base upon which West Shore Church rests and operates: “generosity” and “transparency.”

West Shore Church relies on the generosity of its members, friends, and legacy members who live on among us through their bequests. Two – thirds of our annual Operating Budget support comes from the annual pledged gifts of our current members and friends. One sixth of the budget comes from income from legacy bequests left to us by our members over the last half century. The remaining one-sixth comes from income we receive from various fees for services (primarily rentals) and unpledged gifts and grants of varying types.

The Operating Budget is created after an annual Canvass of all members and friends for pledge predictions of what they will be giving the church during the upcoming fiscal year. Our Canvass is held in the late winter and early spring of the year and our fiscal year is July 1- June 30. The Minister prepares the draft budget for the Finance Committee, which sends its recommendations on to the Board. Our bylaws require a balanced budget. The amount pledged in the Canvass is the major determinant of the church’s staffing and programs for the year ahead.

Our Stewardship Campaign is an annual opportunity for us to engage with the importance of generosity as a spiritual practice. The decisions we make about how we use  our resources of treasure, time, and talent are a significant part of living a UU religious life. We encourage our members and friends to consider committing five percent of their income to church giving and more to giving outside the church. We are also encouraging year round pledging to the church with the hope of making the annual stewardship campaign/canvass obsolete. Many churches are now going to a rolling, year-round stewardship conversation. We have just begun this process. Stay posted for more details as we roll it out.

Our finances are as transparent as possible. Once the budget is approved by the Board, a summary of the annual budget is made available at our annual meeting in June and on our website. Spending is tracked by the staff and reported monthly to the Finance Committee. The detailed quarterly reports of budget spending that are given to the Board of Trustees are also posted on the Board’s bulletin board in the west hallway.

Our budget and spending are public information and you can request copies of recent reports at any time from the church office.  Compensation details for all staff are included in these reports.

Certain funds are tracked off-budget because the donor has requested this, or because some committees and groups in the church ask the church to hold finds they use in trust.

West Shore Church has invested funds with various managers. We are currently building the monthly mortgage payment for our new building renovation into the operating budget and relying on unrestricted invested funds and legacy bequests to carry the mortgage until our annual giving is able to absorb this entire cost.

Stewardship

The "stewardship" of our resources involves the way we take care of each other, our building, and our financial health. "Stewardship" with a Capital "S" is the umbrella term that we often use to describe our financial care-giving. Stewardship at West Shore is a three-legged stool.

The three legs are the annual stewardship campaign to raise the Operating Budget (sometimes called "the Canvass"), Capital Giving to support capital needs (mostly related to the building and mortgage), and Legacy Giving, planned gifts that are often part of an overall estate plan or will (often applied to endowment needs.)

A pledge is not a legal contract, but a prediction. Our members appreciate the monthly reminders in the mail about the amount they pledged and how much they have paid so far on their pledge.

Annual pledges at West Shore vary considerably according to household income, so the ministers and the Stewardship Committee encourages everyone to consider 5% of income as a standard to strive for.