Digital Organization: Let the calendar do the remembering…

2013 10 11 Fri calendar

Calendars are useful – except when the synchronization fails,
although I like the idea of the day above.

Meeting Houses are often run by volunteers. But even if you are a paid member of staff – usually you are fitting managing the maintenance of the building around other more immediate aspects of the work, and it can be hard to ensure nothing slips through the organisational net.

Using a calendar as a planning tool

One way to avoid this happening, is to use a calendar for your reminders.

Create a list of regular to-dos, enter them onto your calendar and (if digital) have a reminder emailed to you. Not only for the task ‘clear gutters’, but for the preparation – ‘get quote’, ‘tell Premises clearing gutters is due’, ‘book window cleaner for gutters’.

If you use a paper calendar you can do a similar thing. But will need to remember to look at the calendar to be reminded, and store the ‘next xxx date’ on a piece of paper added into the back.

You can add in one off tasks as well of course, but the repeating function means you don’t have to wonder when the next PA Testing or roof inspection is due. A quick search and the calendar will tell you, even if that is a couple of years in the future.

Other Benefits

If you use the calendar attached to the generic email, (and hopefully shared booking calendar), that forward planning isn’t lost when the role passes to the next holder.

Share your calendars, so other people can see those reminders as well. This sharing enables you to spread out tasks and responsibilities. Or at least the awareness that these tasks are being dealt with by you.

Creating a Record

When work is done, add a note on the date to create a record.

Search within the calendar for ‘inspection’ or ‘building tour’ and print off the results. This gives an easy report for records – especially useful for Annual or Quinquennial reports.

Once a year’s worth of reminders/work has been completed, why not print off a copy to go in the front of the Minutes book as a visual reminder of the work that will be coming up?

  • What methods do you use to spread out the work, and ensure regular maintenance jobs aren’t forgotten?

You might find these posts useful:

Digital Diaries & Documents

Generic Email Addresses or How to Prevent Memory Loss

K is for Knowledge & Know How

ACAT Annual Conference 2016

Responsibility, Impact & Stewardship

This year’s ACAT conference was held Saturday October 15th at Woburn House Conference Centre, London.

Money & Monks, Markets & Monasteries

Our opening address was Br Dr Anthony Purvis, Prior of St Michael’s Priory, Willen, Milton Keynes talking about the relationship between Thomas Merton and Dom James Fox the Abbot of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Stressed at some times as they had very different priorities, while also sharing many similarities – as they joined the same order and lived together for many years.

“What does it mean to live in a world based on money, when you have taken a vow of poverty?”

We were assured that to live in a religious house is not to run away from the world’s problems, but instead to face them in a smaller community. A priory is a place with budget deficits, financial difficulties, problems with contract law etc. It can be hard to deal with such things in association with people only wanting to concentrate on theology.

We must learn to live together or we fail each other. We learn from those we don’t leave.

Money Management

Thomas Merton is often seen as a prophetic voice speaking from the wilderness loved the simplicity of the life he signed up for – sleeping ten to a dorm on straw mattresses, hand cultivating the land, eating very frugally. But he also made a great deal of money for the community – by writing a best seller.

Any money that came in was carefully managed by James Fox (a graduate of the Harvard Business School) to improve the fabric of the building, to mechanise the farming and increase production and to create mail order businesses – diversifying and increasing income streams. Good business sense that enable the religious work to continue and grow – by the time of Thomas Merton’s death new buildings were needed to hold all the incoming monks.

Two very different viewpoints and priorities, but the two were also brothers in spirit. When James Fox became the Abbot he insisted that Thomas Merton heard his confessions and when dying, asked to be buried next to Thomas Merton.

This was an inspiring set of thoughts and several on our table said we were going to do more reading – It reminded me of the Parker J Palmer passage in Qf&P 10.19

In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives!

Parker J Palmer, 1977

Workshops, Advice & AGM

This year’s conference format included a brisk AGM, plus several workshops – separated into large or small church streams.

From the chat around our table and others both streams were well done, with interesting presenters, thoughtful answers and useful tips.

There was advice on employment, financial matters, information about Churches impacting on the community and the setting up of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union, low cost property loans for churches, information on applying for grants – from a list available on parishresources.org.uk or through your local authority community fund, plus stewardship and the raising of funds.

I’ve come away with several pages of notes, some items to do research on and a pack of material to sort through over the next few days. A truly worthwhile day – recommended to any other Treasurer or Trustee concerned with financial management.

QBC’16 – Embodying Equality in Business – Why? & How?

QBC’16 – Embodying Equality in Business – Why? & How?

The ‘Why’ inspires change and the ‘How’ empowers change

Wednesday, 9th November 2016
Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ

9:30am to 10:00am Registration and Networking.
10:00am Meeting for Worship (for ten minutes).
4:30pm Close.

The heartfelt purpose is for those attending the conference to leave with their own personal intent to embody equality in their organisations at a deeper, more profound human level. The participants will leave feeling and knowing the difference these ideas will make for their staff, their customers and for the wider community.

The day will be grounded in Quaker Advice and Queries 22:
“Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgements about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God”

There will be speakers and creative activities during the day; and the flow of our four speakers for the day is:-

  • Gender Equality
  • Sexual Orientation Equality
  • Racial Equality
  • Religious Equality

Satish Kumar, internationally renowned speaker on ecological and spiritual issues will be speaking on Embodying Religious Equality in Business.

Michael Lassman, who has over 30 years’ experience following an equality and diversity agenda, speaking on Embodying Gender Equality in Business. Michael set up Equality Edge at the end of 2006 as a vehicle to deliver innovative workshops, one-to-one or small group coaching and public speaking services. He is speaking at the 2016 Global Equality and Diversity Conference.

You can find the full programme here.

Looks like a full day of inspiration and challenge – I’ve put that in my diary and hope to see you there.

Fire Drills During Meeting for Worship

2013 07 15 fire truck 2Fire!

Fire Alarms and the necessary Fire equipment and signage are all an important part of any building’s safety plan – and we always hope they won’t be needed. However, if the worst happened – would your meeting know how to respond?

Mount Street, Manchester recently held a fire drill during Meeting for Worship. Although there were several mishaps, and originally many people were upset, by the end they had learnt so much it was decided this should be done again.

Have your Premises and Elders sat down to work out an evacuation plan? Appointed marshals to ensure the building is empty, count everyone out and to ring the Fire Brigade?

Consideration of where to meet – and when to reunite children and parents are two important issues.

Are there any people who need special consideration?

  • Is anyone hard of hearing who wouldn’t hear the alarm for example?
  • Is there anyone who would need help in getting out of the building for any reason?
  • Does your Children’s Meeting meet in a different part of the building? If so do the helpers know where to go and have enough people to ensure everyone can leave safely?

We’re not alone in needing to do this – Ship of Fools has a thread about other churches who have done drills during services. One suggestion was to hold the drill at the end of the services so everyone was still there but the evacuation practice was done. Another was to do it at different times of the month to cover any changes to routine.

Reminding us that this risk is real one post commented that there was a priest who started each Sunday service with information about fire exits as their previous church had burned down.

  • Have you ever held a fire drill during Meeting for Worship?
  • Would you consider it? If not – why not?

Managing Meeting Houses Conference 2016

2011 01 Front of building

Managing Meeting Houses

Managing meeting houses can be a lonely job – it is easy to feel that you are alone in dealing with matters. It is equally important to ensure that you don’t spend time re-inventing the wheel.

This annual conference organised jointly by Quaker Life and Woodbrooke is a great chance for new wardens, trustees and premises committee members to learn about their new role. But there is always enough sharing of good practice, tips and tricks for a more experienced person to take away too.

Sessions ranged from those essential nuts and bolts of Employment and Health & Safety to more inspirational – what is special about your Meeting House? We considered them as a place of worship, as part of the local community and as a venue for customers.

Employment Matters

Pensions – especially for smaller meetings with only one worker, or many part time workers were discussed. Friends House recommends The People’s Pension which several participants said had worked well, but we were also encouraged to apply earlier rather than later. There is a worry that these suppliers will fill their quotas of small charities and some meetings may miss out.

Employment – especially ways to decide if someone is actually employed or truly self-employed was a perennial favourite. I’ve discussed this before here – and my favourite definition is from another of these conferences in regards to wardens.

“If your meeting could arrive Sunday morning to find the building locked up tight with a note pinned to the door saying, “I’ve gone to Peru.” And deal with this without any real hassle – then your warden is a volunteer…

If your meeting couldn’t cope then it is more likely that your warden should be an employee.”

The importance of all meeting houses being properly organised – with back up for wardens and resident friends was mentioned several times. Ensuring there are contingency plans in case of sickness and to cover regular days off were both stressed as necessary to prevent burn out and stress.

Laughter greeted the suggestion that members of Premises and Trustees should do any job they were asking someone else to do – to have a more complete idea of the specification they should give as well as some idea of how long the job should take. Several attendees gave examples of how doing this changed their time expectations, and their appreciation for how quickly (and well) a professional can do a job!

Employers’ resources and support

The transfer and rewrite of the new Employers’ & Wardens resources and support pages from the old quaker.org site to the new has been completed. There are newly updated template documents and of course more guidance can be found both here and in chapter 13 of Quaker Faith & Practice.

As always it was a pleasure to stay at Woodbrooke. I made sure to get outside into the gardens, to walk the labyrinth and enjoy catching up with old friends, as well as meeting new people.

If you’ve not been before – or haven’t been for some time do look out for the next in January 2017.

A Living Wage Must Pay Enough To Live On

Living Wage.indd

The Living Wage Campaign

Lancaster Quaker Meeting are tasked to take the lead nationally within the Society of Friends to promote awareness about the payment of The Living Wage.

As part of their work they have produced an information pack, which can be downloaded from their website, which includes the poster above and others.

Pay Compare is an independent, not-for-profit organisation funded entirely by donations, founded by Stuart Hill, a member of Quakers in Business, who works for Pay Compare on a voluntary basis.

This is what Stuart says about it:

‘We invite business leaders and owners to lead the way towards a fairer, better economy by publishing their organisation’s pay ratios at the website www.paycompare.org.uk for everyone to see and compare. In doing so you receive the Pay Compare Mark which can be proudly displayed to show your commitment to pay transparency – a consideration promoted in Q&B’s Good Business Ethics at Work book. Be in the vanguard of organisations who are empowering citizens and investors in this way, including Triodos, TSB, Charity and Unity Trust Banks, numerous social enterprises and charities, and a growing number of local councils and private companies. Those not active in business can take action as Ratio Requesters by simply visiting www.paycompare.org.uk to tweet, email or write to any employer to ask them to publish their pay ratios at Pay Compare. Together, we can help pay ratio reporting become common practice in the UK so that we can all favour those who pay fair.’

  • Does your business, employer or supplier publish its pay ratios?
  • Find out, and if not suggest they do!

Pay Compare is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England as No. 8974596

 

Building a Fairer World

2015-08-18 banners at FH Trish Carn 2 watermarked

Copyright Trish Carn, used with permission


After all the long term struggles to get banners on Friends House with Camden council, I have so enjoyed seeing them go up – temporarily and now permanently. Such a good form of outreach and of brightening up the neighbourhood. Lovely to see them as I exit Euston station.

23.13 Seeking to live at all times in a divine order of life, Quakers have always counted social service part of Christianity. In fidelity to the genius of their inward experience, they have set themselves the task of developing their own spiritual sensitiveness to the light of truth; and have then resolutely confronted the unawakened conscience of the world with the demands of the new light, and have borne witness to it with undaunted patience.

This has resulted in progressive enlightenment for themselves, and in the slow but sure triumph of many of the causes of which they have become champions. The reform of the criminal law, the improvement of prisons, the suppression of the slave-trade and of the institution of slavery, the abolition of the opium traffic, the protection of native races, the repeal of the state regulation of vice, the emancipation of women, have all been powerfully helped to victory – however incomplete – by Quaker action on these lines, side by side with that of other noble-hearted reformers.

Other great ills, patent or latent in our civilisation, have yet to be overcome, perhaps have yet to be perceived; the old philanthropy has to deepen into something more vital if the full demands made by the teaching of Christ are to be obeyed; but the faithful following of the Light that illumines the alert conscience still seems to many of us the truest way for securing this deeper experience and for recognising and combating the evils that menace social and international life.

William Charles Braithwaite, 1919

During the discussions one of my groups has been having regarding reading Qf&p, the comment was made that short passages can spark inspiration, more than slogging through some of the longer passages.

I see where that is coming from – and some of my favourites are quite short. However, there is also a power in the slow unfolding of a message and the explanations of attitudes and theories.

This passage featured in several conversations around here over the last week. That last thought that ‘other great ills, patent or latent in our civilisation… have yet to be perceived….’ is one that stops me and haunts my thoughts.

What great ills are we not aware of, or have not yet started to struggle to overcome? Climate change? Housing inequality?

The ‘yet’ brings me hope for both the perceiving and the overcoming.

This post is part of my Reading Quaker Faith & Practice series – click here for the introduction and explanation or here for all posts in this series.

ACAT Annual Conference 2015

ACAT wp3fc874a7_06This was my first visit to the ACAT annual conference and AGM, but it won’t be my last. Although it felt slightly odd to be in Bloomsbury and not in Friends House, the Institute of Education was a comfortable venue for the day.

As you might expect from an association with Church or religious connections the day balanced stewardship with time for worship and fellowship. With a buffet lunch, and breakfast, to ensure we had enough caffeine and sugar to make it through to the end of the very full day.

Business wise there was a brief AGM (15 minutes), with a request for anyone tempted by the idea of becoming a trustee contacting the board as they were always looking for new members.

The remainder were talks or introductory samples of the fuller training sessions ACAT offer around the country.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘Balancing Stewardship with mission – Issues for Treasurers and Trustees’ talk given by Canon Dr Christina Baxter CBE where she explored aspects of G-D an Mission, reminding us that mission is now what you live/breathe, living out our beliefs and living so others can hear/see G-D in those actions.

If we allow ourselves to become such living missionaries, people coming to our buildings, events, services should find a taste of heaven. That is people living out their lives faithfully – listening to that divine spark within. “Mission is in the church as fire is in glowing embers” Martin Luther.

One concept I will be thinking more about was, “What we give to the Lord belongs to the Lord – but we don’t give to the Lord was also provided by G-D and however it is used should also glorify G-D”. Money however it is spent is a spiritual issue and part of the role of the Treasurer is to help members of the community to explore how to use those resources to meet their spiritual goals and needs.

With a final quote (with attribution at the moment): “There are lots of parables about growth in the NT (with seeds being sown and growing), a budget which is not a growth budget is not a kingdom budget.”

Plus hearing from Dr James Corah about how CCLA Investments work with Church leaders and other groups to put forward the issues that are important to their customers and change large secular companies policies. Enabling small groups to join together to tackle large issues.

For example before the 2012 Olympics they approached hotel chains regarding human trafficking, with fact and figures from previous Olympics. Originally they had no interest, but then Whitbread asked more questions, realised it did impact their business and put out training for every hotel and staff member.

With regard to the living wage it was through discussions with Glaxo’s CEO Andrew Witty that overturned the original, ‘that’s too expensive’ knee jerk reaction and instead had Glaxo matching the living wage. Resulting in 600 contractors receiving a living wage and Glaxo sponsoring the living wage.

Other talks covered – What is ACAT doing to support its members, Employing People, Keeping on the right side of the Charity Commission and then we split into small or large church groups to work through some issues relating to size. Enjoyable examples of Gift Aid problems and misconceptions.

The day finished at just after 4pm. I took time out before heading to the tube to tidy up my notes and soak up some of the inspiration there within. There is a list of things to research and learn more about too.

I can see why two of my table mates assured us that they came every year. Definitely looking forward to the next event.

What is the Purpose of Business?

QandB_Logo_Orange WHITE backgroundQBC’15 – What is the Purpose of Business?

Wednesday, 4th November 2015 – Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London. NW1 2BJ. Programme: (10:30am – 4:30pm)

The 11th Q&B Annual Conference is asking the question ‘What is the purpose of business?’ This question will be addressed by some of the UK’s cutting edge speakers, with opportunities for group exploration in workshops.

The aim of the day is reach out to the communities of business, NGO, business schools and students as well as to Friends so that we can explore how business and organisations can better fit people and planet. Too many of us live lives so fast and hectic trying to meet work deadlines, balance our own finances whilst trying to be the best parents, friend or citizen we can be, and wonder if society has be like this.

The day starts at 9:30am with Meeting for Worship, followed by Coffee and Registration at 10:00am, with a 10:30am Start.

To encourage us to think in different ways, we are very pleased to announce some of our speakers:

  • Professor Colin Mayer – Said Business School Oxford University. Colin is a government advisor on new business models and the author of “Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in It”
  • Graham Randles who is Managing Director of NEF consulting (New Economics Foundation). NEF calls itself an an independent think-and-do tank whose aim is to improve the quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues.
  • Giles Hutchins is a freethinker and writer. He is the author of ‘The Nature of Business’, which fuses his business background with a range of theories and practices, that include bio-mimicry, cradle-to-cradle & industrial ecology, and applies them to the challenges businesses face today.

We are grateful to Triodos Bank for sponsoring this event.

Register and Pay

The price is £40 for Q&B members, £50 for students and £60 for non Q&B members, including lunch and refreshments. Bursaries are available. Register and pay for your attendance through Paypal at Quakers & Business or at Eventbrite.

 

 

Mindful Business Services is a member of the Quakers & Business Group.

Tackling Fraud in the Charity Sector

2013 06 18 Collection box

Are you a Trustee? Or someone who deals with finances for your organisation and is concerned about fraud?

Here is a conference you might be interested in:

https://www.fraudadvisorypanel.org/…/tackling-fraud-in-the…/

Date 30 October 2015
Time 09:00 – 16:30
Location Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LE
Costs £25 + VAT charity and not-for-profit sector