Giving First

Giving First:  Living our faith by sharing our Sunday Plate Offering

Each Sunday, the offering collected during worship is split between the support of First Parish and another organization chosen by the Social Justice Committee.

The Giving First program donates 50% of the non-pledge offering each month to a charitable organization that we feel is consistent with Unitarian Universalist principles. The program began in November 2009, and First Parish has donated over $200,000 to more than 70 organizations.

Giving First is an important way of enhancing our relationship with the broader community. It helps show the community who we are, what principles we embrace, and allows us to live out our principles through giving. The program also furthers our education by providing the congregation with heightened awareness of each recipient. Nominations are solicited from members of the congregation late in the calendar year.

Giving First Nomination and Selection Process

  • Most recipients receive somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000, more or less.
  • We seek to fund a range of organizations by theme, geographical reach, and size of organization. We have funded small local organizations as well as large international organizations. We strive to select a balanced portfolio of recipients representative of the congregation’s values.
  • We typically receive one and a half to two or more times as many nominations as we have months to fill. We ask for nominations on a yearly basis to keep the program fresh and to give everyone a chance to participate. We also try to maintain a balance whereby we do not fund the same organization in consecutive years. The one exception to this is the Arlington Food Pantry, which is a yearly recipient.
  • To balance our generosity, because attendance and plate donations are lower in the summer months, we select two recipients for the months of June, July, and August.
  • We encourage only one nomination per person.
  • We take the selection process very seriously and we want the congregation to know that these are not easy decisions for us to make. Because we get more nominations than we have months, we are unable to fund every nominee. Our inability to fund should not be taken as a statement about the value of the work of that organization: we may have gotten several nominations for similarly-profiled organizations and sometimes we have to say no. We do appreciate your participation in this process.
  • If you nominate an organization that is chosen for the program, the Social Justice Committee will ask you to provide further information for the e-bulletin, order of service, Social Justice Blog and Sunday announcements.
  • In the past, nominators have found ways to promote relationship-building between First Parish and the recipient organization, such as inviting a representative of the organization to socialize at coffee hour, requesting in advance that the organization might speak at a worship service, bringing materials to distribute after worship, running letter-writing or signature drives, making known specific non-monetary needs of the organization, and the like.

Giving First Nomination

To nominate an organization, use the form below. For more information, contact

Your Name(Required)
Your Email(Required)
What does the organization do. What is its mission?
Please briefly address the ways that First Parish already engages, or could possibly engage, with this organization.
Please provide the URL for this organization’s annual report and/or provide Guidestar or other non-profit rating if available. If there is no annual report, please give some indication of the organization’s budget or financial status. (Nomination forms that do not provide this information will not be considered)