Quaker A-Z: V is for Volunteers and (school) Visits

2009 10 06 Wendrie w Volunteer badge 2 This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

V is for Volunteers

If you read the last post ‘U is for understanding and undervalued‘ you may be wondering how to avoid having your wardens or other volunteers feeling undervalued and misunderstood. Is it just as simple as following the list of advice given last week?

2010 12 09 Volunteers Desk

Volunteers Desk at Quaker Centre Friends House

It is always tricky to balance the skills you need with the skills offered but then that is part of the fun of working with volunteers rather than calling in professionals.

Remembering that you might get a professional volunteering too!

Well, I’ve been both a volunteer and managed volunteers – in small or large groups with a variety of ages, experiences and abilities.

There are some things that can help your project succeed and your volunteers leave feeling satisfied and willing to come back for more.

  • Have you clearly defined the job(s) or tasks that you want done?
  • Have you ensured that appropriate tools and working areas are available and supplied by you?
  • Have you categorised the jobs and tasks to fit a wide range of skill sets and abilities? Pairing not so able or skilled with others more skilled or ensuring there are jobs suitable to all abilities.
  • Has someone done a dry run (even just on paper!) to ensure all obvious snags are reduced and that the tasks can actually be done in the place and time you’ve allotted?
  • Do you ensure all volunteers are welcomed and given an induction suitable to their age and ability?
  • Do you thank all those who came to help – even if they weren’t able to help? I always find that sharing food together is a good way to ensure fellowship and a feeling of being appreciated.
  • If the project is over a longer period of time, do you ensure that everyone is kept up to date with developments and is able to give input?

All Quaker meetings are of course run by volunteers – and one of the joys of giving Quaker service is meeting others who are also giving service. Even when it is frustrating, or hard work there are always benefits – to paraphrase A&Q 23:

In times of difficulty remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a sense of humour.

V is for Visits – school and others

One interesting way of getting people to visit your meeting house is to invite them to visit. A common visit can be from a local school – Quakers can come into the National Curriculum in a range of ways.

Dissenters, slave trade, or individuals such as George Fox and Elizabeth Fry, or even local religious groups is another for younger children.

However, I also had a visit where I was informed they wanted to come as the sixth formers were looking at ‘Religious Architecture and Icons’. When I hesitantly pointed out the building didn’t have much to look at in the way of either icons or obviously religious architecture – I was reassured by the teacher saying that we were being compared to the local Greek orthodox church.

There are resources available from the Children and Young People’s Team at Friends House ‘Schools Journeys’ to help you plan and organise the visit – you could invite all schools to a specific exhibition, or just contact the local schools to inform them that the meeting exists and that there are people willing to come in to do assemblies or to host a field trip.

Along with other recent commemorations of WWI two new packs were produced by QPSW Conscience and Conviction which can be downloaded for free from that link.

Over the years I’ve hosted school visits and always found the groups interesting as well as challenging. I’ve been thanked by the adults attending as well as the students. I hope you are tempted to try out a school visit!

  • Does your meeting have a relationship with any or all of the local schools?
  • Have you any tips for a successful visit?

Quaker A-Z: U is for Understanding and Undervalued

2014 09 28 new meetingThis is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

U is for Understanding

From Quaker.org.uk/wardens:

Many Quaker meetings appoint wardens, resident Friends, caretakers, managers, other employees or volunteers to manage, or work in  meeting house premises and grounds. The nature of these roles varies according to the circumstances of individual meetings, but essentially arises from Friends’ desire to open the doors of their meeting houses and to provide a living contact between the meeting, its members and the local community.

Wardenship should be seen as an integrated part of Quaker life and worship which can foster a friendly atmosphere in a meeting house and give caring attention to all those details which make for conditions conducive to worship and welcome. It is also a responsibility to be shared by the whole meeting.

Some see wardenship as a form of service, others regard it as a very worthwhile form of employment. The benefit of good wardenship to a meeting can be beyond measure. However, both meetings and their employees should be aware of the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees and of  importance of good, clearly structured employment practices.

Do you understand:

  • What the Warden or Premises Committee members do in your meeting?
  • What is the true time and skills required for the tasks you have asked them to do?
  • How these role and therefore the expectations can vary from meeting to meeting and over time in the same meeting?
  • How can you support both those giving service and those receiving it to understand each other’s needs and wishes?

In O is for Oversight I mentioned the responsibility on all members of a meeting to support those doing work on their behalf.

U is for Undervalued

Sadly one of the most common comments from Wardens is that members of their meeting don’t value their service. Usually as it is mostly behind the scenes and therefore often unseen.

Whilst Jane Stokes is talking about homemaking here this can also include wardening and the other caring for a meeting house that can go unseen.

23.64

There is much work to be done which is not paid, but which is vital, desperately undervalued and undertaken to a large extent by women. I refer, of course, to caring for children and/or elderly disabled relatives and homemaking. The work itself is often hard, stressful, mundane and repetitive, unseen and unacknowledged, with low status. We need a transformation of our attitudes to this work, giving it all the esteem it deserves.
<…>

Voluntary work gives the sense of being able to give something – whether in time, money or expertise – and that is precious to the person doing the giving. The feeling of having contributed, the satisfaction of a job lovingly done, is the reward. We should not regard voluntary work as of less value because it is unpaid and the rewards intangible, nor should we exploit the goodwill of volunteers…

<…>
Everything in the end can be distilled to relationships – our relationships with each other and the earth. Our work must benefit our relationships rather than damage them, and we must ensure that neither the earth nor other people are exploited. Caring, not exploitation, is the key.

Jane Stokes, 1992

Whilst at a Managing Our Meeting Houses course at Woodbrooke, I heard two statements which made me rethink how I think about Wardening.

The first was from Wendy Blake Rankin – an employment specialist who, whilst talking to a room full of Wardens remarked:

“Quakers exploiting Quakers is not Quakerly.”

By which she meant that oddly, many Quakers are quite happy to demand from other Quakers things that they wouldn’t from non-Quakers. There is a piece in Qf&P that says:

13.38 Wardens should not be asked to accept conditions of accommodation and work which most Friends would not tolerate personally. Casually made appointments can lead to misunderstandings and unintended exploitation. Meetings employing a warden are urged to consult with Quaker Life, to ensure that good practice is observed in their meeting.

It is hard for many Wardens to create boundaries between their own work, worship and service especially if they feel unsupported in creating those boundaries. This can lead to burn out, leaving of positions earlier than expected and many bad feelings.

While the second was from Kathleen Russell who whilst talking about employed and volunteer wardens and how to tell the difference who gave the following example which raised many a wry smile around the room.

“If your meeting could turn up on Sunday to find the building locked up tight and a note from your Warden on the front door saying, “Hi – I’ve gone to Peru!” and continue working – yes with some minor problems, but no real panic. Then your Warden is indeed a volunteer – if not, than they are probably are or should be an employee.”

Of course if you have a good Operations Manual, sensible Policy documents as reference, and there is continual liaison between all parties then it is easier for Premises and others to be the necessary back up or be able to take on the work during any time of transition.

There are ways to make Wardens feel more valued such as (gathered from conversations with Wardens over the last few years):

  • a regularly reviewed job description and time expectations
  • regular reviews with written summaries of the discussion or review
  • support to create and maintain boundaries between work and home life
  • backup to enable holidays and sick days to be time off
  • awareness that leisure time is not available for work or ‘a quick chat’
  • support to ensure that other members of the meeting don’t make unreasonable demands
  • acceptance of them as full members of the meeting with their own spiritual journey
  • appointment of specific Friends, or a group a Friends to provide specific support and a space to listen and explore their feelings related to their role
  • offering training or paying for training when requested which relates to their role
  • saying thank you on a regular basis
  • arranging help for specific tasks and supporting working days when there is a build up of tasks for whatever reason

What other ways do you think show Wardens and similar roles that they are valued both for the service they supply and as individuals?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: T is for Twinning Toilets plus Terms & Conditions

Toilet Twinning

by Michael Coleman on Flickr

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

 T is for Toilet Twinning

I first heard of this project at Woodbrooke, where the male and female toilets in the New Wing corridor are both twinned, and was impressed by the idea. Individual toilets are £60 to twin. Or a meeting house could twin a block in a school for £240.

Delighted to see that Bakewell, Bridport, Gildersome, Hammersmith, Harrogate, Hartington Grove, Ross, Stocksfield Meeting Houses and the Priory Rooms, have all raised monies – and a bit of awareness, to twin their loos. Some raised the money themselves, others involved others using the meeting house. There were even articles in the local press for the opening of the twinned toilets.

A simple but effective way to support a good project, help improve the lives of others and perform a bit of outreach at the same time!

Has your meeting done this?

T is for Terms & Conditions

You might call these Terms of Use or Conditions of Use – they may be written down and formal or perhaps there is just a verbal list someone runs through with any new hirer. Or some combination of the two.

Having them written down does make things easier when a problem arises – issues can be thought out in advance, consultations made and decisions made calmly. Although, it is always possible to change them once they’ve been made!

A formal definition of Terms and Conditions could be:

“rules which one must agree to abide by in order to use a service.” (Wikipedia)

Examples of such things can be found on some websites:

Does your meeting house have a set of terms and conditions for room hire agreed?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: S is for Sustainability & Stewardship

Sustainability image light bulb at sunset

Sustainability image light bulb at sunset by Intel Free Press

These are two words with complementary meanings.

Sustainability

Sustainability graphic on Performance.govIn general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.

At BYM Canterbury in 2009 Quakers made a corporate decision to become a sustainable low-carbon community. Receiving inspiration through the Woodbrooke funded Swarthmore Lecture by Pam Lunn Costing not less than everything: sustainability and spirituality in challenging times.

I’ve written about this before – click on the Sustainability tag on the sidebar to read all other posts on this theme.

There is also a recognition that we need to include our own processes and policies within that consideration – do we need this many jobs and committees? If our main purpose of existing is to be a worshipping group, then to give service to the world than what supports that and what drains it? Which leads us on to the other S…

Stewardship

Stewardship is perhaps more specific – it is the careful and responsible management of something, usually resources. Quaker Faith & Practice has this to say about our assets and how they are used:

14.04 Whilst the work of area meetings may vary, our assets are used for:

  1. strengthening the life and witness of our local meetings;
  2. spreading the message of Friends and interpreting and developing the thought and practice of the Religious Society of Friends;
  3. undertaking our service for the relief of suffering at home and abroad;
  4. funding the concerns of Friends that our meetings have adopted or agreed to support;
  5. providing for the pastoral care of individual Friends, including assistance to those in need and for education;
  6. maintaining and developing our meeting houses as places in which to worship and from which to carry our witness into the world;
  7. administering and maintaining the organisation of Britain Yearly Meeting.

Whilst Quaker Stewardship Committee http://quaker.org.uk/qsc has responsibilities laid upon it to both ensure that meetings are doing this and supporting them in this endeavour.

‘…support meetings in their stewardship of finance and property; encourage accountability, transparency and integrity in all our affairs and enable Friends to work with statutory bodies, such as those administering charity law, on issues that affect all meetings and their associated bodies. ‘ (Quaker faith & practice, section 14.28) (Third Edition)

Stewardship, as I mentioned above, can also refer to the energy and time of people. Nomination committees are finding it hard to find enough people to fill all the roles they have to fill. This has meant that meetings – both local and area, have become aware that human resources need to be managed and cared for. Investigating what jobs must be done, which can or must be out sourced to professionals and which can be reduced to the essentials or even done away with.

One Quaker in a tiny meeting told me,

“we threw out everything and then said – what do we need? A place to worship – well we had a building already, so that was o.k. Next we thought we need someone to open up and drew up a rota for that. Slowly added back jobs, but only if someone wanted to do it. We still don’t have everything that Qf&P says we should, but we meet and we’re swimming now not drowning.”

15.02 Quaker Faith & Practice (fifth edition) starts Chapter 15 on Trusteeship with

As members of the Religious Society of Friends we are all called upon to exercise stewardship over the Society’s resources. This is stewardship in its widest sense: ensuring that money and buildings are used wisely and well; that business decisions are taken in right ordering; that all within a meeting, both its members and its employees, are supported and helped to play a full role in the Society’s affairs; that the meeting’s children are cared for and nurtured; that eldership and oversight flourish. We are all called to participate in building a responsible and caring community.

  • What has your meeting done to ensure the stewardship of the Society’s resources?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: R is for Recycling and Risk assessments

2013 06 02 planted up recycling boxesThis is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

R is for Recycling

Does your meeting house have recycling areas for goods accepted by the local council?

Are there other things that can be recycled?

  • Postage stamps (not the standard queen’s head) QPSW Stamp Club are sold to support Quaker work.
  • Furniture be collected and recycled by a local group such as Quaker Social Action?
  • Composting material can be brought in by members of the meeting who aren’t able to compost at home.
  • Left over building materials can be donated to local projects such as allotments.
  • Old bins and recycling boxes (even if made of un-recyclable plastic) can be used as planters – as seen above!

Reusing is another way to ensure that items don’t end up in land fill – so a Quaker sale of pre-loved books and other items can bring people into the meeting house, raise money for Quaker work and help people to live more simply with less possessions.

Colchester meeting hold a highly successful sale, complete with refreshments and lunch every year.

R is for Risk Assessments

What is a Risk Assessment?

I often hear that these haven’t been done – because people don’t know what they are, or don’t know how to do them and or don’t know who to ask.

According to the Health & Safety Executive HSE

As part of managing the health and safety of your business you must control the risks in your workplace. To do this you need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This is known as risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out.

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork , but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.

Although if you have less than five employees you aren’t legally obliged to write anything down – it is still good practice, and knowing that Premises committees change members on a regular basis it ensures that the research and work done isn’t lost.

There is lots of help and advice about these issues. The HSE has sections on their website including downloadable templates and guides – and examples such as this one for a village hall, which can be adapted for Meeting Houses.

Once the risk assessment has been written it needs to be used – there should be a yearly reminder to review and renew all assessments, then work on any action points that arise.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A to Z: Q is for Quality and Quakers

Quaker

Quaker by Amber Kennedy on Flickr

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

Q is for Quality

Quaker used to be synonymous with Quality – hence the picture of a Quaker on the oatmeal pack.

23.62

The attempt to identify and apply Christian values in practice is a struggle laid upon each generation. As new knowledge, new methods, new technologies arise, so is the condition for the operation of conscience altered and advanced.

To list the attributes of Christian quality would be to repeat much of the Sermon on the Mount. They can be summed up as personal integrity combined with compassion. Such quality can shine out in the work situation as in the social and religious life… It is characterised by the refusal to put up with the second best; a capacity to take infinite pains with other people; especially is it shown in the constant effort to seek higher standards beyond the traditional practices or those provided for in regulations.

Edward W Fox, 1969

Quality of course has another meaning – that distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something. We might hope that people visiting our Meeting Houses may come away with an feeling about our Quaker values or qualities.

The Quality of Work

But first I’m referring to the necessity to consider the quality of work and items that Premises committee buy or commission. It can be false economy to buy lower quality goods or to go for the cheapest quote – especially for a busy meeting house that is used by the public.

I enjoy working as part of a group and fully appreciate the number of hours donated by members of the meeting to maintain and improve the premises. However, to balance that there are also instances that cutting corners or having work done by a group can lead to problems. There was a comment in a handbook that warned Premises Committees to be careful of the costs of putting to rights the work of well-meaning amateurs.

Quality and Value

Wetwebwork on Flickr

The Quality of Values.

How can we manage our buildings and surrounding areas in such a way that those who come into contact with them, come away knowing a bit more about Quakers or at least those distinctive attribute or characteristic that Quaker Testimonies have lead us to develop.

This isn’t outreach in its most common form – I’m not including only those who come seeking and questing to the meeting for spiritual nurture; but also those who come to attend a class, pick up a child, deliver a parcel or even just stand outside and wait for a bus.

  • What Qualities would the meeting want to promote?
  • How has your meeting created such a space?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A to Z: P is for Premises and Policies

Quaker Meeting House - Religious Society of Friends, Colchester

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

P is for Premises

14.25

Meeting houses

Care of premises

A meeting house should not be regarded primarily in terms of bricks and mortar, or merely seen in relation to potential site value. Its real value derives from the worship and service of the meeting. Even so, our meeting houses no less than our own homes deserve our care, attention and imaginative thought, so that they may be attractive both to ourselves and to others whilst remaining faithful to our commitment to simplicity, care of the environment and equality. Care of our premises is an important and sometimes exacting responsibility, which should be exercised by or on behalf of the meeting to which it belongs. Area meeting trustees and local premises committees should be vigilant so that small defects do not pass unnoticed and lead in the future to extensive and costly repairs. It is recommended that premises be professionally inspected at regular intervals.

As always Premises committee members and trustees need to balance the real value of having a building, including what the worshipping community wants and is able to do with this asset, against the requirements of maintaining and investing in it for the future.

During the course of this blog series we’ve covered quite a few aspects of Premises – from recording the history to creating and maintaining both an inventory and an operations manual.

Perhaps the next question would be about the structures that help keep supporting everything.

  • Have levels of standards for care and maintenance been decided for the building?
  • Has some imaginative thought created plans, that are being tested and moved forward?

This core set of standards would feed into the Quinquennial (or other periodic professional survey) as well as the overall maintenance and development plans. A way of ensuring that everyone involved is working towards the same levels and expectations.

Which moves us nicely into the next P.

P is for Policies

Why have policies? Quoting again from Chapter 14:

14.27

Meeting houses

Use of premises

Area meetings are advised to permit and encourage the use of their meeting houses for educational and other suitable purposes which serve the needs of the people living in their neighbourhood. Such users should be expected to make an appropriate financial contribution to the running expenses and upkeep. It should be borne in mind that the primary purpose of the meeting house is as a place of public worship.

As premises used by the public, meeting houses must meet certain statutory requirements in respect of fire precautions, safety and hygiene. All premises must be adequately insured, including liability insurance as well as buildings and contents insurance; the Treasurers’ handbook should be consulted for more detailed advice.

In considering the proper use of their meeting houses, area meetings should be sensitive to the feelings of the worshipping community, whose members may object to the introduction of alcoholic drinks onto the premises or to other practices by other users of the meeting house. Hiring policies in respect of particular premises should be agreed between area meetings and local meetings, and conditions made clear to prospective users. The use of Quaker premises by political parties, and by other religious or secular organisations with whose principles or practices Friends might not be in sympathy, will always require careful consideration and full consultation with Friends in the meeting most closely concerned. Particular care must be taken to avoid bookings by ‘front’ organisations with undesirable aims; the bona fides of new users should be checked. In all cases it is important to ensure that any publicity given to meetings held on Quaker premises makes a clear distinction between those organised by a meeting, committee or other Quaker body as such, and those for which others are responsible, in order to avoid confusion in the public mind.

Meetings and committees involved in letting Quaker premises should always bear in mind the need to minimise disturbance to neighbours, hurt to individual Friends, division among the membership, and erosion of our distinctive Quaker identity.

Creating or confirming policies – before an emergency occurs, where you wish you had one is always a good thing.

Some policies are very short and simple; others are longer and more complicated. It can be tempting to think only the later are worth writing down – however even short and simple documents, that have been agreed by the appropriate body, can be useful guidance where people have different opinions or where conditions have become confused.

Most meeting houses which are let out to the general public will need the following policies:

  • Letting s
  • Maintenance/Cleaning
  • Health & Safety
  • Disability/Accessibility
  • Finance – petty cash, dealing with rents, bad debts etc.
  • Safeguarding – children and vulnerable adults

Area Meeting Trustees may need or want to add in additional policies. Quaker Stewardship Committee has a full list in their current Trustees’ Handbook.

Individual meeting houses may also want additional policies such as sustainability.

There will be overlap between what Premises and Trustees are doing and care should be taken to ensure that the policies are shared during development and circulated to all committees so they are aware of the new policies.

Policies should be living documents – updated and reviewed on a regular basis, rather than written, filed and forgotten.

Many Area Meetings already have policies and examples are available as a starting point to develop from. Thankfully, it isn’t necessary for each committee to start from scratch.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: O is for Oversight, Opening times and Operations Manual

Binder Rings 2

Binder Rings 2 by jkfid on Flickr

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

O is for Oversight

Oversight is more commonly used for pastoral matters than practical ones – and yet caring and maintaining the building in which the community meet and worship, should not just be left to a small committee.

However, this need to share the responsibility must be tempered with the realisation that running any building, especially one hired out to the general public will require some specialised skills and a knowledge of legal matters. This doesn’t mean that the work should be undertaken as a burden, but rather with the awareness that this too can be a form of ministry.

Wardens, Trustees and members of Premises Committees should be supported by those not called to such service. Whilst they should be questioned and held to budgets they should also be trusted to have worked on the reports and recommendations they bring to us.

8.01

Introduction

In our Quaker work, are we sure that our decision-making is rooted in prayer and thought, those dual bases of all our actions? And as Friends with a responsibility for overseeing one another’s faithfulness, how often do we stop and hold in the Light the people who are acting on our behalf? How often do we stop to think how much research and information gathering is behind their actions? Too often I fear we jump to judgement. Both the work and its oversight have to be rooted in the silence of worship.

Christine A M Davis, 2008

There is also a more informal type of oversight – one where members of the meeting take some responsibility for small items of maintenance or report problems, realising that extra pairs of eyes and hands are useful.

At Colchester Meeting, there was a member who used to come in and weed in the garden for a few minutes each time they were in town. Not a large commitment on their part but the cumulative hours were noticeable.

O is for Opening times

In June 2012 on the Wardenship E-list I asked the members what hours their buildings were open and how access was handled.

As you might expect there was a range of variations. Many meeting houses are opened and closed by staff or volunteers, some only opened on Sundays for Worship, whilst others hand out keys or codes and can be accessed at a much wider range of times.

Having fixed opening and closing times makes things easier for those running or maintaining the building. It also makes things easier for neighbours or those going past to know if the building should be empty after a certain time.

Some meeting houses also closed for some amount of time during the Christmas/New Year period and or during the summer holidays. Reasons given for this was:

  • to reduce costs as there weren’t enough hirers to meet overall running costs
  • to give the wardens/building a break
  • to give time for maintenance and refurbishment work

Unlike a previous questionnaire I’d done more informally a few years before many meeting houses were now open and hiring out their rooms on Sunday afternoons. There were a few that also hired out during Sunday mornings.

O is for Operations Manual

All groups or businesses will find an operations manual useful. Ideally, this is a living or continually updated document, which contains all the information you need to run the meeting house both physically and as a business. Not all of it will be suitable for public knowledge or even general meeting member knowledge but there should be more than one person who knows, or knows how to find out the information they might need.

Especially as unlike many businesses Trustees and Premises committees members will move on regularly bringing a new influx of skills and talents but also needing to learn the existing policies and procedures. Wardens tend to be longer in post – giving some form of corporate memory, but a good operations manual is still a vital tool.

Creating one is a complicated, but very worthwhile exercise. You will need to include information on a wide range of topics – ranging from Administration to Zones for (fire alarms or cleaning) whilst covering policies, schedules and utilities.

Ask on the Wardenship E-list for suggestions about what to include, or contact me for help and advice on wendrie at mindful business services.com – I’ll happily send you a terms and condition or basic template.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: N is for Noticeboards and Newcomers

2011 01 Front tri sign This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

N is for Noticeboards

Noticeboards, such as the one above are fairly standard outside most meeting houses.

Usually they consist of space for Quaker posters plus information about the Meeting as a worshipping community. However, there are likely to be other places within the building that have notices meant to be read by people using the building.

  • When was the last time you looked at the various display areas around the meeting house?
  • Are they tidy and updated regularly, so that any new information can be found?
  • Do they look welcoming?
  • Are any notices legible?
  • Do they convey the messages and tone that you want them to?
  • Do the messages/notices/tones need to be updated?
  • Have the Quaker posters been changed recently to attract more interest?
  • Are they interesting enough for you to stop and read them?

In the Marketing your meeting house the basics I mentioned that another type of noticeboard can be useful for both outreach and marketing. This is just a summary – to read more click through to the full article.

2012 10 22 New outside noticeboard croppedOutreach – people who are looking for a class or an event realise that the building exists – and may even realise that Quakers exist too. If they come onto the site to look at the noticeboard, or have at least become more familiar with the building, it increases the likelihood that they will feel able to cross the threshold and actually attend one of your outreach events.

Marketing – you can of course put your own meeting’s events here – they are happening at the meeting house after all. It also gives some marketing to the groups using the building, supporting them and hopefully ensuring that they stay in business and hiring from you.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: M is for Mission and Money (but not Marketing)

Committed to a Mission

Photo by Eric Castro

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project click here for more information.

M is for Mission

What is your mission? Not a question that is asked often here in the UK. But one that was a common first question among people meeting in Kenya during the FWCC World Conference in 2012. Instead of the more common ‘what do you do?’ they asked, ‘What is your mission?’ How would you answer such a question?

There is a good summary with links to current Quaker missions on the Quakers in the World site. However – it isn’t mission ‘out there’ I’m talking about, but your own individual mission, or perhaps the mission you support in your local worshipping community.

Perhaps your meeting’s mission is to do no more than fulfil Qf&P 4.33, or perhaps there is a calling to work with refugees, sustainability, social justice or some other cause. Or perhaps, as I heard one Quaker say only partially jokingly, ‘it is to earn money to support other meetings in our Area Meeting’. It can even be to do whatsoever you are called to do next as well as you can.

23.63

The individual and the community

Work and economic affairs

One of the aspects of parenthood which I enjoy most is putting my mind to trying to solve all sorts of problems. I get a big thrill out of designing gadgets which will make life a little more comfortable. I love to get to work on a thoroughly neglected garden or room and put it right again. I find great satisfaction in being consulted about other people’s problems and helping to sort them out. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that this is the area in which I shall both find my main direction and satisfy my needs to be creative, practical and supportive. If, rather than concentrating on one particular job or career, I apply myself to tackling the many problems that come my way, I am sure that my life will be more than adequately filled with work that I ‘most need to do and the world most needs to have done’. Thus I shall have found my vocation or mission. It will not mean that all the problems will get solved, of course, or that those which do will be solved satisfactorily every time, but I am sure that it will mean that my relationships with other people will improve and that both the giving and the taking of love will come easier to me.

Helen Edwards, 1992

Have you ever stopped to think about what your mission is or what you might like it to be?

M is for Money

I’m not talking about ensuring that ‘this community should be able to support itself & its activities‘ as I mentioned in Beacons and Burdens. Nor how to increase lettings, as I did in the how to do Marketing series. Both of which are different aspects of income and outcome.

Instead in this post I’m going to cover Petty Cash and other monies. Such monies aren’t large amounts, but tend to be ones that there is confusion over and often cause upset.

Before we start you might want to think about how does your meeting handle money:

  • Is there a Treasurer or a team of Treasurers?
  • Are they well supported?
  • Are things organized so the person responsible for maintaining any inventory has the ability to easily do so?
  • Do you have separate Premises accounts and general funds or is everything in one pot?
  • Did you know that there are training courses for treasurers and others working with Quaker finances – both on-line and at Woodbrooke?

How are small amounts of supplies purchased?

Warden/Quakers/Another buy with their own funds and claim.

This presumes that person being asked to do the shopping can afford to do this – and puts the onus on them to keep receipts and make an expenses claim. It makes it easy for these small amounts to slip through and be paid for by the individual not the meeting. This isn’t good practice, and it also means that you don’t have an accurate account of how much it takes to keep the building going.

If someone wants to donate in the most tax efficient way, they should claim and donate that amount with gift aid added.

We only have a Petty Cash box/account

Who maintains this and does this mean you are unable to buy on-line or in bulk unless you have someone else pay and reclaim?

We have an account with linked debit card and/or cheque book

This works well for on-line shopping presuming you have accounts and can pay via invoice and cheque book and/or can pay with the debit card. It will mean you are able to buy in bulk. It also means you can pop out with the debit card to cover the last minute pint of milk and a packet of biscuits!

If there are several signatures on this account, including the Treasurer who can both keep an eye on the float level and top it up as necessary, this system can work very well.

We do some combination of the above

This is probably the most practical of options.

Good record keeping and transparent practices are necessary to avoid fraud. Debit cards may make some treasurers nervous as you aren’t able to have two signatures on these, but with a limited account balance this isn’t much risk.

  • How does your meeting deal with these types of transactions?
  • What advice or good practice could you share?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.