On Tuesday, July 20, PYM Treasurer, Andrew Anderson welcomed Friends to the Q&A session for the budget for Fiscal Year 2022. After opening worship, Andrew briefed the community on topics covered in four financial documents posted as advance documents on the Annual Sessions pages. A report follows. [Read more…] about Takeaways From the Budget Q&A Session on July 20, 2021
PYM’s Committee on Friends Education reminds families that monthly meeting members’ children attending or applying to Friends Schools are eligible to apply for educational support for the 2021-22 school year. Funding for all grants comes from the National Friends Education Fund and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting endowment income from the Jonathan Rhoads Fund and other PYM education endowments. [Read more…] about Tuition Aid for Friends Children in PYM Friends Schools
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.
PYM’s investments through our Quaker investment partner, Friends Fiduciary, have always been aligned with Quaker testimonies. Friends Fiduciary actively screens out companies in industries like defense, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, private prisons, and coal, and in companies that have histories of poor environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. In addition, Friends Fiduciary votes shareholder proxies to communicate our Quaker values on ESG issues, and they join with other institutional and faith-based investors in shareholder resolutions and company dialogues to encourage reform.
PYM’s fiscal year ends September 30
This is the last month to make a 2019 Annual fund gift to help our Quaker faith thrive. We’ve finished designing the final appeal of the year and it is being delivered to some 7000 mailboxes around the yearly meeting during the first week of September.
What’s the Goal? Why does this matter to monthly meetings?
Our revised Annual Fund goal is $300,000. Reaching that goal matters because our Annual Fund helps lessen the financial burden carried by monthly meetings through covenant obligations. PYM used to figure out what Yearly Meeting’s staff, events, and programs would cost and then assessed meetings’ covenant obligations according to membership numbers with a per member “quota” charge. It was burdensome to meetings, and PYM shifted to strictly voluntary covenants—decided by the meetings themselves—with the idea that Friends with resources would step forward to give to the annual fund, thereby narrowing the funding gap.
We all know how much better today’s system feels, but we also notice Friends today don’t connect a robust Annual Fund as an essential offset to the old ‘quota’ covenant gifts, and they may not quite understand why it is so important.
Resources are essential if Quakerism is to grow.
Friend’s gifts translate into events and programs that represent Quaker outreach. Older Friends who have finished raising children may not use the youth programs we run, but it sure makes a difference to parents looking for new ‘faith homes’ that PYM has robust youth programs that meet their children’s changing needs.
Overall, our Quaker community’s annual fund supports the human talent and infrastructure that makes us function as a community: space at Friends Center, accounting that ensures fiscal wholeness, grant work, youth programs, Sessions, care and aging work, web management, and communications.
People come to us for Faith, for spiritual growth, for community and connection. The current September appeal celebrates what our Quaker faith does through Spirit and uses the metaphor of the Labyrinth to describe our path toward transformation.
Friends and Attenders can give through the PYM website at www.pym.org/nurture and many can also choose to make an additional gift to their own meeting through a second drop down box that lists meetings opting in to PYM’s online gift support. Checks can be mailed to: PYM Annual Fund – 1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia PA 19102
How much should people give? An average first time gift is $91. The average annual fund gift is $380 per year, (that is $95 per quarter or about $32 per month). Giving is easy with monthly on-line gifts – and a commitment of $10 per month leads to $120 a year.
People give as they are led. All gifts support vitality in our Faith. Any amount helps.
Here’s why support matters so much. PYM networks, convenes and publicizes Quakers:
- Our weekly PYM Weekly News & Events emails broadcast your news and events.
- We have more impact in the world as PYM, for example:
- Christie joined the National Council of Churches (NCC) when they met with President Sisi of Egypt;
- We partner with others to forward the Quaker faith in public ways.
- We provide these services whenever needed:
- We visit meetings with high-need communities (aging or other) and support elderly friends with social work, linkages to resources, and grants.
- We network meetings and schools with religious life and community programming
- We support numerous collaboratives and sprints doing interesting, meaningful work.
- We run Friends in Fellowship and Friends in Business events that network Friends around an interesting topic and help draw attention to our Quaker values in professional situations.
- We support and advise meetings on complex property and other issues.
- We make all our programs, and annual sessions, affordable through grant and other support for people who wish to attend without financial burden.
- We support Meetings in on-line fundraising, carrying the credit card transaction cost for you.
- We help fund students in Friends schools and provide college and grad school grants.
- We provide these services whenever needed:
Of course that is not all we do, just follow Melinda Wenner Bradley and her team for deep dive into Youth Religious Life Programs and see how many young Quaker hearts we touch. Watch this faith and play story from Annual Sessions and feel the power of Quaker story telling.
The illustration above is by Julie Paschkis. Julie is the illustrator for more than 30 books and is a graduate of Germantown Friends School. www.juliepaschkis.com
[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px” width=”1/1″][vc_message]The following updates have been published to share further information about staffing changes:
- MAY 2, 2017 Staffing Update: Administrative Support in the Office
- APRIL 22, 2017 Communication from Leadership to PYM
- APRIL 14, 2017 Financial Impact: Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 23, 2017 Advancement: Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 23, 2017 Salaries: Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 23, 2017 Staffing and Inclusion: Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 23, 2017 Administrative Support: Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 6, 2017 Youth and Young Adult Programs Staff Changes Follow Up Information
- MARCH 4, 2017 Staff Changes
[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px”][vc_column_text]Following on a recent announcement from our General Secretary about upcoming changes to our staffing structure, this post provides further information and clarity with respect to the financial impact.
At its February meeting, the Finance Committee heard Christie outline her proposed changes in the staff structure with the net effect of:
- adding 0.15 full-time equivalents, effective October 1, and
- increasing the salaries for nine positions to bring them in line with averages for non-profits in our region, effective immediately.
The staffing changes would take advantage of several current openings, meet her stated goals, and happen at the same time to promote synergies. The changes add spending of $60,000 (inclusive of taxes and benefits) for the remainder of FY 2017. The 2018 budget will need to include the full-year effect. The increased spending appears sustainable for two reasons: a more robust development effort, including attention to planned giving, should improve trends in individual giving, which have been in decline for several years. In addition, PYM sees a larger-than-average pipeline of bequests in 2017-2018 that will increase investment income.
Finance Committee united in agreeing to overspend staffing by $60,000 versus budget and in recommending it to Administrative Council. Staff spending is now expected to be 3.4% higher than budgeted, almost certainly offset to some extent by cost savings in other areas. The Administrative Council accepted the recommendation at its meeting on February 18.
The approved budget gives the General Secretary a staffing budget or “envelope” as part of the annual budget process. The General Secretary has authority to make any staffing changes within the envelope.
Once approved at Annual Sessions, the PYM budget doesn’t change. What changes is the expected variance to budget as PYM lives into each new fiscal year. The FY 2017 budget has $1.76 million in staff salaries, wages, taxes and benefits, covering permanent and casual staff. It accounts for 60% of the general fund budget of $2.9 million. (Please note: Much of PYM’s program activity and all its granting happen in the restricted fund budget, which last year provided $1.3 million in spending on top of the general fund budget.) Through March, before the General Secretary’s changes begin to take effect on April 1, the staff actual-to-budget will be right on target.
PYM Interim Treasurer[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Thread Gatherings began in January of 2013 to draw meetings into closer fellowship, to nurture our collective wisdom and corporate ministry, and to share resources so work can be joined and strengthened. The image of the “thread” was and remains a useful metaphor, representing aspects of Quaker Faith and Practice that weave us together, as it were. From 2013 to 2015, six Thread Gatherings were held annually. Then in 2016, we engaged in some experimentation and reduced the number of Thread Gatherings to three. [Read more…] about Thread Gatherings, New and Improved
Let me extend my sincerest appreciation for your patience as we hold our Quaker Life Council in loving accountability to follow through on the many tasks with which we charged it. One of the tasks is to define a process for considering applications for funding, for groups who would like additional support in carrying out their work and witness.
Now that it has been defined, we’d like to make sure you are aware of this process. [Read more…] about Application for QLC Funding Process Announced
Good news for organizations insured with FIG! They will soon be receiving a check equal to 5% of their 2015 premium payments. The Friends Insurance Group (FIG) is the organization that provides insurance coverage to most of our meetings through a Master Program, supported by PYM staff. Dividends are a benefit of insuring with the Friends Insurance Group: when FIG performs profitably, the dividend returns premium dollars back to the participating organizations. At its annual meeting on April 7, FIG announced a 5% dividend for 2015, payable in May.
The dividend is based on a combined five years of “loss experience.” (Loss experience is the ratio of total claims paid to total premiums earned.) For the five years from 2011 through 2015, FIG enjoyed a favorable loss experience and good financial results.
Operating nationally, FIG provides insurance to 285 Friends meetings and churches, yearly meetings, schools, camps, retirement communities and organizations through GuideOne Insurance. The PYM Master Program is FIG’s largest yearly meeting policy, covering 99 monthly meetings, 10 schools and 8 other Friends organizations within PYM. The value of the 2015 dividend across the PYM Master Program is $110,669. Participants will be hearing directly from our insurance agent, Univest, with more information about their individual dividends.
Friends, at the close of the year, our financial house continues to be in good working order. This is true thanks to the meetings who provided strong support, thanks to hundreds and hundreds of Friends who gave to the annual fund, thanks to the working groups who helped us to cut expenses, and thanks to the staff for tightening their belts. In the new year we will receive the completed audit of our 2015 fiscal year and until then we can’t confidently share hard numbers. However, we do have a good idea of where we stand and can share four highlights with you.
Highlight One: Covenants Covenants are the contributions from monthly meetings. Outside of income from invested funds, most of which is restricted, meeting covenants are the largest source of income for supporting our community. At the beginning of each year we ask meetings to give us a heads up of what they expect their covenant will be to help us with our planning. Last year we heard from a number of meetings that they were not sure they would be able to meet their previous level of giving – which is what our budget is based on. We tightened our belts accordingly and kept talking with meetings. . While a few meetings did need to step down their giving, others increased their giving. In the end, it looks like we are coming in exactly on budget. That is an important story, Friends. We are working hard to come together as an integrated, powerful community across all of our meetings and Friends and geography, and the financial support from meetings tells us we’re on the right track.
Highlight Two: Annual Fund The Annual Fund is the support from individuals throughout the year. The story here is a little more uncertain. The number of people who give has slowly inched down over recent years. This year was not an exception. The number of donors and the amount given was lower than budgeted and we did not reach our fundraising goal. In response to this continued trend, we are changing some of the ways we reach out to Friends and we need your help – one initiative is engaging those who give to PYM in asking others to give. If you’d like to be part of this, reach out to Jennie Sheeks, Director of Development (contact info below).
Highlight Three: Expenses Knowing that there were some uncertainties in our income, we were especially careful in our spending this year. Staff reviewed all budgets about 1/3 of the way into the year and carefully watched expenses. It also happened this year that the working groups spent less knowing they would be laid down by the end of the year. In the end, our expenses came in well under budget and well under income.
Highlight Four: Operating Reserves Recovering from the financial downturn and our own budget cuts, we set a goal of refilling our operating reserves, which were at zero. We determined to reach and maintain a level of six months of operating expenses in the reserve fund, or $1.2 million. That was three years ago. Since then we have been budgeting operating surpluses to rebuild reserves. When FY 2015’s anticipated surplus is added, we expect to have over $1 million in that fund.
The audit will go to the Administrative Council’s audit committee for review and acceptance in January and will be posted online afterwards. A full treasurer’s report will be part of our business meeting at Continuing Sessions in March.
Thank you to every meeting and every Friend who provides financial support that allows the yearly meeting to be increasingly successful in bringing together our Quaker community.
Friends with questions are encouraged to contact any of the following:
Associate Secretary for Business and Finance, 215-241-7205, firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Development, 215-241-7115, email@example.com