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How Much in Reserve?

Published: July 9, 2021


Recently, [our finance] committee has begun to ask the question: How much money do we need to keep in reserve?  Based on our collective values as members and attenders, how much are we led to keep in reserve? To get some outside advice on this question, we consulted Friends Fiduciary, the Quaker investment group that manages our investments.  Eston Griffin, Director of Business Development, was very helpful.  He notes that three basic philosophies have emerged among Quakers on how much money to hold in reserve:

PHILOSOPHY 1 --The Meeting is just a conduit for money and assistance to go to worthy causes.  Any excess money the meeting has at the end of the year should be donated to good causes.  A meeting needs to trust that if the course is right and true, Divine Spirit will provide.

PHILOSOPHY 2-- Meeting assets should be taken care of and invested wisely.  Having a good-sized reserve fund that profits from investments allows the meeting to do more good and also guarantees the survival of the meeting. Having a large reserve fund is fine.  Meetings with this philosophy often have large fiscal obligations such as a school, cemetery, or real properties.

PHILOSOPHY 3 -- Blend of #1 and #2 above:  The meeting needs to plan for specific maintenance and capital expense needs 5 to 10 years in advance (e.g. new roof, furnace, parking lot, etc.) and have a specific plan to meet those expenses.  Beyond that, however, planned giving is very important. Many meetings have a formula for planned giving and budget for it.  For example, Twin Cities Meeting has a planned giving fund that is kept in a separate “subfolder” at Friends Fiduciary.   Any gains at the end of the year are given away.  Other meetings donate a certain percentage of their total net worth every year, for example 1%. 

. . .  We ask members and attenders to be thinking about their own values regarding financial prudence and stewardship and be ready to discuss this issue.

from Steve Finger, Flagstaff Monthly Meeting (7/3/2021)