Linell McCurry has served PYM’s community as Associate Secretary for Business & Finance for the past eight years.
COVID-19 has thrust the United States, along with the rest of the world, into a period of recession.
The last major downturn in 2008 found PYM unprepared. The yearly meeting had posted a string of operating losses that decade and depleted cash to fund deficit spending. During the slow recovery that followed the Great Recession, PYM reduced staff by half through a series of painful layoffs. Other spending declined. Operations went into the black in 2012, and the bottom line has been positive for eight consecutive years.
We believe PYM is positioned today to ride out a period of economic uncertainty and continue providing services to meetings and our communities of young, mid-life, and elderly Friends. Thanks to Friends Fiduciary’s distribution, which is based on a rolling 12-quarter average, investment income should only flatten a bit in 2020-21. We also have a cash cushion in a rebuilt operating reserve that stands at six months’ worth of operating expenses. Staff remains small, but operating efficiencies and an embrace of technology allow us to provide as much or more service as in earlier years, all while spending less. PYM’s total expenses in FY 2019 were $200,000 less than its FY 2012 spending.
PYM has been working remotely since Monday, March 16. In the two prior weeks, as we prepared to work from home in the event of COVID-19-related limits on non-essential activity, PYM:
- Developed a protocol to make decisions about when staff would work from home, for example, if the Philadelphia schools closed or if any staff person’s home school district closed.
- Made sure everyone had a laptop and a secure internet connection.
- Developed protocols for paying bills and making grant payments remotely.
- Developed protocols for receiving mail and logging and depositing checks under work-from-home conditions.
- Developed protocols for closing the Arch Street Meeting House and having that staff rotate working from home and going in to check on the building and grounds.
- Expanded our Zoom capacity.
- Began planning for the possibility of virtual alternatives for Continuing Session on March 28 and youth programs and initiated weekly calls with monthly meeting clerks that began March 17.
The staff has adjusted to working from home amazingly well, and everyone is being paid their full wages.
The work of streamlining and automation has been in service of the broader community. For the March quarter just ended, more than one-third of PYM’s monthly meetings have been sent a check for gifts made to them on PYM’s website, a service where PYM absorbs the costs and remits 100% of the contribution. PYM offers meetings Zoom support, and 115 Friends of all ages worshiped together by Zoom on March 28.
PYM’s General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, concluded that meeting by saying PYM wanted to create “an architecture of love in community” Everyone at home was joined across the geography of multiple states, and we shared spirit among us.