When it comes to websites, web hosting, social media engagement, and other forms of electronic outreach, Friends General Conference (FGC) is in a period of evolving engagement with Friends and their meetings. Previously, FGC hosted several meeting websites through Quaker Cloud. That service, which will end at the end of 2023, was a useful tool for many meetings who needed a simple web presence.
Many meetings used their Quaker Cloud pages to post directions to their meeting houses or post access links to virtual meetings. Several of these meetings also used the News feature of the pages to post updates, or used the websites as a repository for meeting minutes. After over a decade of usage, we as a community now have a better understanding of websites generally. The various aesthetic and technical advances of the past decade have outpaced FGC’s ability to provide the best possible service to the community.
However, FGC’s minute of purpose demands that we provide services that nurture the spiritual vitality of the community. Though we regret that we cannot provide ongoing services, we see an opportunity to assist meetings in finding more long-term solutions. FGC believes that the next logical step to nurture Friends involved with websites is to draw together as a community and harness our collective wisdom. We are doing this by launching the Quaker Communications Community of Practice. In time, our goal is that this community will be self-sustaining, sharing resources among Friends. For the first year or so, FGC staff will facilitate and launch the community. Staff involvement will taper off over time.
This is not a new program. This is a connection between Quaker communicators, a vital and valuable segment of the community of Friends.
Here is a scope of what FGC can now offer. (Please note that this support could not exist without the generosity of donors toward our Gathering Together capital campaign, which has funded a term-limited Communications Associate who makes many of these activities happen).
- Provide a quarterly e-newsletter to Friends who are interested in communications tools such as websites and social media, and to contacts previously listed as Quaker Cloud administrators.
- Manage a peer-to-peer community of Friends who are interested in sharing knowledge and resources about communications tools, including website design and hosting, and social media platforms.
- Cull resources, from time to time, from the peer-to-peer community that may be useful for wider dissemination in the e-newsletter or as a resource on the FGC website.
- Host and approve updates to Quaker Finder (directory) pages with limited customization (directory text, an embedded map, a logo, a meeting photo). Note: Meetings will be responsible for providing up-to-date information through the submission form on their page.
- Provide a free, downloadable WordPress theme (template) for meetings needing one.
- Maintain a QCCOP hub on the FGC website that shares a wide variety of resources to Friends interested in websites and social media.
- Facilitate learning opportunities (such as workshops and written guides) at a variety of skill levels on website development, social media management, and other tools related to outreach.
- Facilitate, through SkyCatchFire, Inc., a website URL redirect for meetings leaving Quaker Cloud.
Due to the constraints of staff and their commitments to other activities in the FGC ecosphere, the organization will not be able to:
- Modify, update, or upgrade the Quaker Cloud WordPress Theme. Friends are welcome to modify the theme with compatible plugins and features.
- Make specific recommendations for website hosts, designers, developers, domain registrars, etc. Members of QCCOP are encouraged, instead, to make requests for referrals and to share their own referrals, within the peer-to-peer tool.
- Make unsolicited updates to QuakerFinder directory pages.
- Make changes to existing Quaker Cloud sites.
- Provide tools for exporting data off Quaker Cloud.
- Provide coaching specific to an individual meeting’s website needs outside of the available resources on the QCCOP hub.
We are very excited to connect and engage in new ways with Friends who enjoy website work or are tasked with it. We are hopeful that over the next two years, this community will become self-sustaining and be attractive to more and more friends who want to connect over website work.