A "Fair Share" pledge at my congregation is 2-4% of household income, according to the Annual Campaign Committee. What sad news -- it's not even 5%! 2-4% has been the recommended range for a number of years now. This year, if we give 3% or more, we get a copper pin as a reward, as a matter of fact. I'm guessing that Annual Campaign chairs and the Board are probably not giving more than this, or the range would be higher. Now I'm curious: what is our level of giving? How would I find out?
Perhaps a fairly accurate method of discovering this is to do a calculation based on the 2006 Median Madison household income: $67,000. Some people insist that the UU median would be much higher, but I'm not going there, because some members are students, some are unemployed and many are the only UU in the household. We have over 1400 members: 1000 pledge units, so 3% of the total income would be 2 million dollars! In reality, our budget is about half that amount.
Maybe 3% is our target because anything over that seems absolutely inconceivable! $2 million is an enormous amount of money, probably because I'm not used to thinking big. Given the chance, though, I'll bet we could discover how to greatly increase our positive impact in our community and the world at large if we had a budget of $2 million. We could also better provide ministry and growth opportunities for all generations of local Unitarian Universalists and the many more who would find us. How amazing that would be!
Perhaps having 3% as a goal isn't so bad, after all. After we attain that, 5% shouldn't seem so impossible. Changing the culture of giving will take a long time. It would be futile to suddenly ask all of us to increase our pledges by leaps and tithes.
In case you're wondering: My spouse and I give 4% to the Annual Campaign and an additional 5% to our Capital Campaign. Frankly, 9% to our church is as much as I can give. Any higher and the Chump Factor would kick in!