How can Quakers carry our vision forward into the future? It’s going to take generosity and planning.
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Terry Nance: So many funds exist that we draw on–if you’re active at all… the funds that we may draw on to keep our meetinghouses in shape, certainly the funds that we draw on to keep our big Quaker educational institutions moving forward come from the generosity of Quakers who never lived to see the benefits of their resources. I’m reminded of that phrase that what hope really is is to plant trees under whose shade you’ll never sit, and I think that is part of the way I see investing for Quakers. We have a clear vision of the way in which we would like the world to be as we move forward, and quite frankly we need to put a little skin in the game to make sure that we have some say in how that will happen going forward.
Investing in the Future of Quakerism
Jeff Perkins: Within Quakerism, the individual has an important role to play within corporate worship. The same is true within our meeting communities in terms of each of us individually have a role in supporting the life of our faith community, whether that’s through serving on a committee, and also financially serving the needs of the meeting.
How Do Quaker Meetings and Churches Operate Financially?
Terry Nance: With a hope and a prayer, mostly. If you ever have been a part of the guiding committees of a meeting, the question about how to keep it running financially is always top of mind, even though the finance committee makes its yearly pitch, saying, “We’re getting to the end of the year; please;if you haven’t made your donations, come in.”
Jeff Perkins: So at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, Friends are encouraged each week through an announcement to contribute to the needs of the meeting. We have a contribution box prominently placed in the entryway to the meetinghouse. We also encourage Friends to give through appeal letters several times a year, and during business meeting, we talk about the budget and the importance of community members contributing to the financial needs of the meeting through contributions.
Supporting a Vision for the Future of Friends
Beth Henricks: Quakerism—at its best—is really something the world needs today. It is a place that I can be on a journey, and I can be loved and accepted and supported wherever I am on that journey, and that I come together with a group of people that have diverse backgrounds, diverse belief systems, and yet we can be in community together. And so I just think the world is calling out for that.
Shannon Isaacs: The offerings that Quakerism offers of kindness, of community, of deep spirituality are all things that I want to exist in the future, and that I think serve the needs of the world in really important ways.
Beth Henricks: Who we can be and how we can connect people to the Spirit has never been more needed, more important. We need to do everything that we can, including our financial commitment to bringing that about.
Building a Culture of Giving
Shannon Isaacs: Fundamentally money is the ability to do good. It’s the ability to make justice happen in the world. It’s the ability to support compassion between people. It’s the ability to support powerful ministries, it’s the ability to make the world a better place.
Jeff Perkins: When we talk about a culture of giving in a monthly meeting, it’s not about the amount that an individual gives, it’s the commitment that one makes to that faith community. It’s important that we each give consistent with our means, and it’s up to each of us to determine what those means are. But I do believe it’s an important step to actually give something.
Beth Henricks: I think Jesus called us to radical hospitality, radical generosity. How can I participate in that? How can I be extravagant in what I give?
Joe Evans: As Quakers, one of the benefits we have is of “that of God in each of us.” That of God exhibits itself as talents. The income that we earn, the assets that we accumulate really are a direct function of those talents and our ability to manage them. Effectively, the money that we have or the money that we accumulate is a gift from God, and as the old saw goes, we can’t take it with us.
What is Planned Giving?
Jeff Perkins: Planned giving is a form of giving that is from assets rather than current income, so one of the most common forms of planned giving is a bequest, so leaving my monthly meeting, my quarterly, my yearly meeting in my will, or a Quaker organization.
Terry Nance: And a lot of time we think about planned giving, we think, “oh that’s for the really rich people, for people who have so much more money.” I think that’s wrong. It’s not the size of the gift in planned giving but the intention that you’re making about the future.
Getting Support from Friends Fiduciary
Jeff Perkins: Friends Fiduciary’s mission is to support Friends meetings, churches, and organizations and we do that not only through Quaker-values based investment management services, we also work with those organizations to support giving within meetings, churches, schools, etc.
Mimi Blackwell: You would probably be connected directly to me as the planned giving program manager, and my listening starts at that point, really trying to find out where you are as a meeting or a committee or whatever it might be. Then we start to make a plan. There are many ways that Friends Fiduciary can partner with you to get the work done, but you really don’t need to know a whole lot to be that member of your meeting to get this started. We’re really here to support you.
And then I always get the question: “how much will this cost?” And, again, we are a Quaker non-profit organization just like the people we serve, and it costs you nothing. Really, it is our mission to strengthen and grow the Religious Society of Friends—that’s why we were established. So we come out and we support you.
- How does your meeting raise the funds it needs to continue its presence and work in the world? Do you find it to be a balanced, effective approach?
- If you could establish a Quaker trust that would outlive you by generations, what good would you imagine it doing in the world?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.