Budgeting Recommendations from John Cowan

 1. Consider

  • dividing the reserve into a general reserve and a reserve for expected future costs,
    with the latter listing

    • the final expected cost of each item,
    • the yearly set-aside to meet that cost, and
    • the present amount of money now set aside.
  • List in the budget the set-aside for the budget year.

These are all pieces of information that will clarify to everyone how much of the reserve is discretionary.

2. I think the present general reserve will still be too high.

If we collectively agree, we can ease our spending limits. In my many parish affiliations I have never been in a parish with a reserve.

3. Since most vital churches have a mission outside of their internal affairs to stretch them,

  • consider initiating a search to discover an attractive mission outside our internal affairs in which to use our extra money and energy. (I personally am not enthusiastic about a group mission, and would personally not engage in it. I bring it forward because it is a characteristic of vital churches and others might well be captured by it.)
  • If that is too stretching a goal, be much more generous in funding Quaker organizations, particularly those near at home, or even neighborhood organizations that are not Quaker.
  • consider granting out-of-the-blue sums of a few hundred dollars without fanfare to local groups or individuals whose work we applaud. The “Applause Fund.”

4. In presenting these alternatives to the business meeting

I recommend that everyone be invited to the meeting or meetings to decide on this course of actions, or non-action. The way we use money is a spiritual matter. It would be good for everyone to be involved in deciding this.

5. I too believe that members will donate much more money to the meeting if they see a need.

The Friend who said this at the October MWB did so because of his experience with the meeting over the years. Lacking that experience I rely on the reality that every church I have been affiliated with routinely donated much more than we do. To pick one with a population similar to ours and list some of their expenses that we do not have: $100,000 package for the Pastor. $80,000 package for the organist/choirmaster. $30,000 for the secretary. $40,000 for the janitor. $60,000 for the diocesan assessment. (Numbers from an old man’s memory and therefore approximate.)Ten years remaining on a $300,000 mortgage. After that this parish then had the expenses we have too.

6. Barclay says that we should be comfortable as Quakers living the lifestyle of those around us, but without ostentation.

There is no reason to not allow our Meeting the normal comforts of our society. In budgeting I cannot think of a thing we are doing, are contemplating doing, or have done that violates that rubric. For instance, air conditioning in public buildings is now normal.

7. The experiment to not ask members to predict their yearly giving I find frightening.

Thank you,
John Cowan

E-mail: stillsittingjohn[at]gmail.com


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