#AdventWord 2019: 5 Raise

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Perhaps not surprisingly the first topic that today’s #AdventWord Raise inspired was money. Raising money is a continual topic when running a meeting or a building – charitable or not.

At one point the building would have been supported and even built or repaired by the worshipping community. However, for most buildings I’ve visited the building now is maintained by professionals and supported more by other activities – hiring the building out to groups, or through longer-term leases.

One topic I’m often asked to comment on is the level of room hire charges. This is a continual debate and one that doesn’t have any easy answer. Often people will say that they’re happy to be at the cozy and cheap end of the market, while others aspire to be in align with a local office or conference centres. I go into this in more detail in the marketing course, you can read one article about this here: Marketing the next steps.

Another continual topic is how to raise interest in the worshipping community for the various behind the scenes jobs that are essential. Finding ways to ensure that reports and conversations explain what is happening throughout the year. Then for projects that people understand the plans and fully support the people doing the work.

If you are trying to ensure people feel part of the process and are willing to increase their funding there are some simple steps that can have fairly impressive results.

  1. Tell people about the need, people give more for specific topics so perhaps draw out a list of things that might be of interest and work through them. This month talking about raising money to support the local LINK group, next month bursaries for sending people to courses and conferences, then on to the library, hospitality, etc. Having different people speaking to support is always best as there is a personal connection. People often do this for ‘special collections’ for outside organisations but it works to educate the community about its different aspects.
  2. Ask – give specific targets, create an annual appeal letter and suggest that people review their giving as often a standing order is set up and then forgotten about. If someone isn’t giving by standing order make it easy to complete the form – including gift aid if applicable and offer help if needed.
  3. Share the knowledge and responsibility, consider a finance team rather than just a treasurer. Break the role down into tasks and see if simplifying systems can remove some of the tasks. For example, no longer having a cash collection removes the need for banking, counting, etc.
  4. Keep reports simple and use illustrations where possible – there are examples in the Quaker A-Z: W Where does the money go? post from a local meeting treasurer who checks the reports against her primary school children. If a target isn’t made tell people – but also celebrate when targets are reached.

How do you raise interest in finance and building management within your community?

#AdventWord 2019: 4 Humble

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String connection workshop activity at Managing our meeting houses conference at Woodbrooke

The Lord has told you, ·human [O man], what is good; he has told you what ·he wants [the Lord requires] from you: to do what is ·right to other people [just], love ·being kind to others [mercy; lovingkindness], and ·live humbly, obeying [walk humbly with] your God.

Micah 6:8 Expanded Bible

Like so many behind the scenes supporting jobs, building management is often seen as a humble purpose, busy with blocked toilets, leaking roofs and cluttered chaos. Yet, it is how this job is done that is the important thing.

From the Micah quote above – ‘to do what is right to other people’, often translated as to act justly. Which can be your own attitude, or how you treat suppliers, contractors, volunteers and others working alongside you to get the work done.

However, this can include much more, such as transparent policies, paying a living wage, being a Fair Trade church.

The second phrase ‘being kind to others’ is also translated as ‘loving to show mercy’. So often being willing to forgive and move forward toward reconciliation can be seen as a weakness, yet being willing to accept others frailties can build a stronger team and community. Of course, there are times when being loving towards someone means making hard decisions, but that can also be done in a transparent and truthful way.

Finally, the third phrase ‘live humbly’ with the idea of walking alongside God brings us to a more spiritual aspect. So often meetings get caught up in agendas and projects, plowing through items to ensure it is all dealt with efficiently. Yet, it is important to leave time for discernment, to work out what is not necessarily easiest or most efficient but what those ‘promptings of love and truth in your hearts’ are leading us towards.

How can we ensure that all aspects of our building and business reflect these three phrases or instructions?

#AdventWord 2019: 3 Time

2014 07 31 sculpture in the city Time here becomes space

Today’s #AdventWord Time made me think of plans, calendars and schedules. It won’t surprise anyone who knows me that I have multiple to do lists, calendars for each ‘hat’ or role/client, not to mention lists of lists. They’re all reviewed regularly, in theory so nothing falls through – although of course it does. As I trust the calendar – it can mean that things go wrong when the calendar is wrong…. but that’s all part of life!

I see the schedules, checklists and calendar as creating space, I don’t spend time wondering what I’m doing today as it’s already planned. I trust that the past-me who sat and planned out the week, knew what they were doing, and that there is margin included for all the extras that appear in my day.

When I do mentoring I tell my clients to be nice to the future-you who will be grateful for the work you are doing now. Preparation and thinking now will mean less work later, thinking through and creating policies and procedures at a time where there isn’t a crisis is so much nicer than doing in the middle of one after all.

When I do clerk support – I supply a calendar spreadsheet (download it from here), which builds up to be a record of what needs doing when, and when it was done. Most maintenance jobs – whether physical or administrative repeat on a schedule and once that’s recognised you can put it onto the calendar and it will remind you, so you don’t need to remember. Although you do need to look at the calendar of course!

Atul Gwande’s book the Checklist Manifesto showed that a checklist makes even the most efficient and accurate person or team that bit more efficient and accurate. Important if you are a surgeon or pilot, but also important whatever you are doing.

#AdventWord 2019: 2 Visit

Bromley Quaker Meeting House

One of the things I love about working for MBS is the chance to visit so many meeting houses and churches. Each looks different, each reflects the time and place that it was designed, built, or renovated. There is a collection of images on Flickr created by a Quaker photographer John Hall – well worth looking to see if you recognise any of the buildings, or just enjoy a virtual visit around the country – and abroad.

The English Heritage Quaker Meeting House project was done during 2015 & 2016 with the report being presented at Bath Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) as a special interest group. The room was a reasonable size but the group overflowed, not only standing room but also into the corridor as people gathered to hear about how special our buildings are – I loved hearing non-Quakers tell us what a wonderful resource and heritage that Quakers across Britain had preserved.

During the survey a total of 345 meeting houses were visited across Great Britain: 324 in England, 12 in Wales, 7 in Scotland and 2 in the Channel Islands. You can read more about it and download the reports for each building, as well as the national overview report on their website: http://heritage.quaker.org.uk/ Central England Quakers used that information to produce their own booklet, showing a Quaker time line against the founding of each of their meetings.

Reading through the national overview report, and listening to the presentation what struck me was the love that people have for these buildings and gardens and how interesting each one was. Although in Norfolk and Waverley – the survey shone a light on the buildings (ten, of which six are listed) noting that all buildings were loved but often by just one or two people locally, and where the Premises person was often was 90+ years old and still climbing ladders.

Visiting other meeting houses, and churches can create connections, share good practice and give inspiration on how to deal with problems in your own building. It can be a joy as well as a recommended practice in Qf&P 12.12.

#AdventWord 2019: 1 Unexpected

For the sixth year in a row, #AdventWord will gather prayers via a global, online Advent calendar. Virginia Theological Seminary is offering meditations and images during this holy season beginning Sunday, 1 December. Images and meditations can be experienced via the #AdventWord website, direct daily emails, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and ASL videos via YouTube. This year, meditations will also be available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.

I saw this series of prompts on social media and thought it would be interesting to work through them from an MBS perspective. Thinking through the spiritual aspects of running a building and charity business while starting the end of year round up of accounts, reports and contracts.

Perhaps Unexpected angle – but then preparing for the unexpected is essential when dealing with buildings, volunteers and the general public.