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Letter from the Good Works Committee on 2011 Budget

Good Works Committee Letter to 12th Month Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business regarding Good Works Budget for 2011.

Following 11th Month Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, the Good Works Committee met 3 times. We solicited input from members and attenders regarding proposed additions to the organizations that we donate to as well as clarification for proposed changes in allocations that we had initially brought forward. We were convinced of the rationale for making equal our contributions to FCNL and AFSC and have changed the proposed Budget to reflect this.

We also solicited information from the organizations that we refer to as Broader Quaker concerns as some among Meeting felt that perhaps they were doing better in these difficult financial times than local organizations. We did not find this to be the case. All organizations report being hard hit by the times and have had to cut staff and programs. We have not changed our recommendation to Business Meeting regarding the allocation of monies to Broader Quaker concerns vs. Local Needs, but we do feel that this is a topic that Meeting should address for clarification of the desires of Meeting and direction to the Good Works Committee.

We ask Meeting for approval of a process to govern the “As Needs Arise” category (below), and seek Meeting’s guidance regarding the way in which requests that fall outside our current categories should be treated.

As Needs Arise
With the intent to retain some flexibility in Meeting's giving in 2011, we propose that Meeting put $540 in the “As Needs Arise" category. If Members and Attenders wish Meeting to donate to other causes during the coming year, we hope they will communicate this desire to the Good Works Committee. Or, it may be that one of our committees will identify a need that we have not addressed. We also invite Members and Attenders who participate in the worship groups under the care of the SFFM to request support for organizations in their local communities. We ask that any request to “As Needs Arise” be made to the Good Works Committee in writing; please, provide a sense of the import of giving now to this cause. As we haven’t much money in this fund, we hope individuals will bring to us matters of some urgency or importance to our Quaker community. (Meeting will explore our Good Works allocations more fully again during the year and it may be that some ideas should be tabled for that consideration). In order not to deplete the fund quickly and to make these monies available to requests by as many as reasonable we suggest that requests not exceed $125 and that any one individual consider deeply before making more than one request to the As Needs Arise fund. The Good Works committee recommends limiting disbursements from that fund to $125 per quarter so that sufficient money remains in account for unanticipated needs during the entire course of the year. Only if the Good Works committee does not reach unity about a request will we bring the request to Business Meeting. If toward year's end, the money has not been spoken for, we will distribute the remaining funds amongst the Local Community Needs, with the exception of the Interfaith Leadership Alliance to which we give fixed dues.

The Good Works Budget
Our proposal for the Good Works Budget does represent a modest increase from last year’s Good Works Budget, which was cut from the year prior due to a drop in donations to Meeting from members and attenders. This was done to be financially prudent and to insure that we didn’t spend money that we didn’t have. We have heard from Friends on both sides of this issue: Those that have counseled caution as well as those that have urged that we set a more ambitious Good Works budget feeling that we can rise to meet the challenge such a budget would ask of us. We wrestled with the concept of parity that has been previously discussed at Business Meeting and offered as the model for Good Works budgets: that we spend as much on others as we spend on ourselves in Meeting. We recommend a modest increase in the Budget this year, but feel this ought to be fully discussed at Business Meeting. At some point we feel the concept of parity ought to be re-examined. Is this what Meeting truly wants and are we as individuals and as a Meeting capable of carrying this out?

Meeting’s Guidance
Examples of requests that need Meeting’s guidance are two falling outside the existing categories that address basic human needs, and another that proposes to respond to human need but comes to us with insufficient supporting information. Unless Friends intend to reduce the proposed levels of contribution to other causes, the only place we can find money for these concerns is from the “As Needs Arise” category. The Good Works committee would be willing to consider these as requests for “As Needs Arise”, but we believe this should follow the good order that would come from a reconsideration of the purposes of our contributions and a decision by Meeting about appropriate guidelines to carry out our intentions in a clear and fair manner. In that regard, we propose Meeting reach these decisions following a threshing session called for this purpose.

Proposed Threshing Session
There are several issues about giving that we think Meeting needs to revisit this year and we propose a Threshing Session for 22 May because the three Good Works committee members will all be in town on that date.
1. We have observed a dynamic tension in how people ask for – and raise donations - between the process of Good Works and the spontaneous giving/pleas for other causes that may or may not fall under basic human needs. What is the relationship between the Good Works budget and other requests that emerge during the year? And, is it fair if spontaneous requests draw contributions away from those Meeting identifies under Good Works?
2. Good Works has inherited a commitment that our local giving be directed to organizations that primarily serve basic human needs. Should this be expanded?
3. Our historical commitment to “parity” as a model for generosity. What is our intention?
4. Currently, we fund Broader Quaker concerns and local community organizations at similar levels. Is this what we intend?
5. Other Friends may identify other concerns [and we encourage them to bring these forward].

This budget reflects our commitment to Good Works as a Meeting. We want to acknowledge that many among us are doing Good Works in and outside of Santa Fe Friends Meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Rebecca Allahyari, David Henkel and Alan Rogers

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