Why do we need money at First?

We need money to

  • pay our staff
  • operate our building (heat, water, insurance, phone, etc),
  • deliver worship services and Religious Education
  • run our programs
  • ensure the viability of First into the future

How much does it cost to operate First?

It takes approximately $10,000 a week to provide the weekly worship service, RE, and regular programs and events that go on at First. This includes staff time, building costs and supplies. We are fortunate to also have the resources of many hours of volunteer time that make these activities possible.

Where does the money come from?

First is entirely self funded. That means that there is no outside source of revenue we can draw from or count on. We alone are responsible for the financial health and well being of our religious community.

The primary sources of our funding are:

  • members and friends who pledge to make a financial contribution over the course of the year
  • rental income for use of our space
  • unidentified contributions e.g. money in the weekly collection
  • special fundraising events e.g. auction, concerts
  • donations to our investment funds

Who is accountable for the finances?

The Board of nine elected Trustees is, by law, ultimately accountable for managing the finances of First. Early in each calendar year (which is also our fiscal year), the Board presents a proposed operating budget to the congregation based on: money that has been pledged, anticipated revenue from rental and additional fundraising. The congregation votes to accept or reject the proposed budget.

How is the budget determined?

Each year the Leadership Team (Board, Conveners, Staff) and the Treasurer get together to look at what the expenditures of the congregation are likely to be in the coming year. The expenditures include essential costs such as salaries and utilities as well as costs that are based on programme initiatives and other congregational priorities that may vary from year to year.

Once the expenditures are determined, the budget is prepared based on what revenue can be anticipated from pledges, revenue and fundraising. Like most households and families, we often have to make careful decisions about tradeoffs.

Why are we asked to pledge?

In order for the Leadership Team to prepare the budget for the coming year, it needs some idea of what it can expect in terms of revenue to offset expenses. The more money committed in pledges, the easier it is for the Leadership Team to be certain of how much money can be allocated to different items in the budget

Why do we have a pledge campaign?

The pledge campaign is a way for the congregation as a whole, and members individually, to think about why First matters to them – what is it about First that makes a difference in our lives – how we are affected and changed by what we experience at First. It is a chance to share our stories and celebrate our community and be reminded that we are all responsible for sustaining the vision and purpose of First – to Seek Freely – Connect Authentically – Serve Passionately – now and into the future.

Do we get tax receipts for financial contributions to First?

Yes. First is a nonprofit organization, established by Ontario Letters Patent. Our objectives, set out in the Letters Patent, are to “establish, maintain and conduct a congregation for the general purposes of securing the advancement of religious worship and teaching”. As a religious institution, First has charitable status under the Canadian Income Tax Act.

Who keeps track of the money?

The Treasurer who under our Bylaws is not required to be a member of the Board is responsible for keeping track of the financial stability of the budget and reports to the Board on a regular basis so that the Board is aware of how we are doing year to date. The Treasurer is also responsible for making sure we are in compliance with any legal requirements related to our finances and our charitable status (e.g. issuing tax receipts, CRA reports).

The Bookkeeper is responsible for day to day record keeping and making sure the expenses are paid in a timely manner. The bookkeeper prepares monthly financial statements for the Board and Convenors. The bookkeeper plays a key role in ensuring all incoming pledges are recorded and is responsible for generating tax receipts. The bookkeeper works closely with the Treasurer, Finance Convenor, Fundraising Convenor and Team Generosity.

The Funds Management Committee is responsible for managing the investment funds of the congregation, through an approved investment manager and provides information to the Board on a regular basis. The Finance Convenor is responsible for working with the Convenors to develop their respective budgets and, with that input, helping to put together the budget. The Finance Convenor is also responsible for monitoring the general status of the budget over the course of the year, and for regularly reporting financial matters to the Convenors and the Board.

The Fundraising Convenor oversees all fundraising events held to raise additional money for First. The Fundraising Convenor seeks out new opportunities for revenue generation and ensures that we are maximizing existing opportunities. S/he also works with the Finance Convenor to recruit a Canvass Chair and lends support and insight to the pledge campaign.

Team Generosity (The Canvass Team) is responsible for all matters related to organizing and administering the annual pledge campaign, including determining an annual focus theme, preparing communication material, organizing the delivery of pledge forms, working with the bookkeeper to keep track of returned pledge forms, and ensuing there is appropriate acknowledgement for all who pledge.

The Financial Stewardship Committee is made up of the key players in financial roles (e.g. Treasurer, Bookkeeper, Finance Convenor, Fundraising Convenor, Funds Management Chair, President) and two ad hoc members. It meets 3 to 4 times a year and is responsible for keeping an eye on the coordination of what’s happening at First in terms of financial initiatives. This way there is no overlap or inconsistency with approach or communications.