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Connecting with Quaker treasurers

Charlotte McMenamin-Walshe explains what she's learned from Quaker treasurers about the financial impact of the pandemic on Quaker meetings, and shares what support is on offer to these vital role-holders.

Financial reserves helped Quaker meetings during 2020 but for most they are not a long-term solution. Image: Pixabay
Financial reserves helped Quaker meetings during 2020 but for most they are not a long-term solution. Image: Pixabay

Quaker treasurers play a key role, ensuring that not only their local or area meetings, but also Britain Yearly Meeting as a whole, continue to thrive. But the financial rollercoaster of the pandemic has made what can already be a demanding, time-pressured role more challenging

In the Fundraising Team we are committed to working with treasurers to help make the important work they do easier and more rewarding.

In July 2020 we sent out a survey to all treasurers about the effects of the pandemic, which yielded much valuable information. Then, in November 2020, we hosted a series of online meetings for treasurers to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on the finances of Quaker meetings and Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM).

It was wonderful to have such enthusiastic participation from treasurers all over Britain: over 160 Friends attended the November meetings, and our July finance survey had over 180 respondents.

I've collected some of the key points from our conversations below.

Financial uncertainty

All Quaker meetings have felt the financial impact of the pandemic. Our July survey shows that 51% of meetings reported a severe financial loss due to Covid-19. Much of this is due to the loss of income from room lettings.

Only 20% of meetings had not experienced a financial loss due to the pandemic. These meetings previously rented space for meeting for worship and, together with underspend on planned activities, had been able to save on these expenditures.

Rainy day reserves

Throughout the pandemic, most Quaker meetings have been able to call upon good amounts of financial reserves. These reserves have helped meetings maintain expenditures and contributions to BYM in 2020, despite income losses.

While reserves bolstered meeting finances in 2020, many meetings worry about relying on reserves in 2021 and beyond. For most meetings they are not a long-term solution.

Support for treasurers

We recognise that treasurers can be under a lot of pressure as they volunteer their time. We are here to support treasurers – both new and old.

The fundraising team (contributions@quaker.org.uk) and our Treasurers' and Clerks' Support Officer (gabys@quaker.org.uk) are available to answer any query you might have about meeting contributions and treasurers' responsibilities. You can also find more resources and information about the role here on our website.

Training for treasurers and other role-holders is offered through our partner organisation, Woodbrooke. Our expanding network of local development workers (local.development@quaker.org.uk) is also accessible in some places for support and advice for treasurers – and anyone else!

Keeping it simple

Quaker meetings use a variety of methods to collect donations. We are here to help meetings find the simplest and most accessible methods of giving which work for them.

In the survey, 68% of respondents felt that BYM's contribution materials needed improvement. Feedback and creative suggestions have helped us to continue updating the information and forms we provide. For example, contribution forms have now been simplified, and are distributed digitally.

Working together

Despite the financial challenges of 2020, we are awed and extremely grateful for Friends' commitment to Quaker work across Britain. This support enables the financial sustainability and future of BYM.

Together, we can ensure that Quaker communities thrive and that Quaker voices are heard for years to come.

See more ways to support Quaker work