The Gift of Giving

A Review of the Cincinnati Friends Meeting Budget

I’m writing this on a cool, rainy November evening. There’s a small blaze in the fireplace and I’m wearing a favorite sweater. My little dog is curled up on the couch next to the desk. It’s a perfect time to settle in and attend to our Meeting’s monthly bills, balance the checkbook, go through some "Quakerly" correspondence, and think about how this year has unfolded—financially, that is—for us at Cincinnati Friends Meeting.

Our operating expenses are within budget. In fact, as of this writing, we are spending slightly below plan. Much of this is because of lower utility bills resulting from recent investments in new HVAC equipment. Some of our committees have under-spent their budgets, too.

We had a number of unusual expenses this year. The children’s play set was damaged beyond repair in an accident, but, fortunately, our insurance covered nearly all of the $5,000 to replace the set. The trustees also had a number of large dead trees—many of them leaning precariously close to our parking lot—removed at considerable expense. At the same time, a tree above the children’s play area was reinforced with steel cabling. And this autumn the trustees invested in new landscaping for the front of our property, replacing many old, overgrown plants that likely date to the original construction of the building. All of these latter projects were paid from the building fund and not from our operating budget.

Endowment income is slightly ahead of plan. Most of our endowment is managed by Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker-based organization that invests in stocks and securities that match Quaker ideals. They do it well, too, consistently beating the market averages. Our endowment provides the largest part of our operating funds, supplemented by our building fund, scholarship fund, and other non-operating monies. We stand on the shoulders of generations of faithful Quaker donors!

Giving by our members/attenders is slightly below plan, however. I’ve been thinking and studying a lot lately on the subject of "first fruits," the Biblical injunction to give to God before we take care of our own fiscal needs. It’s a concept that actually predates Hebrew law and is also reflected in much of the New Testament. (Christ is referred to the first fruit of God.)

Each month in the coming year, we will pay a portion of our Meeting outreach budget—the money we set aside for support of ministries and missions—before we pay our monthly operating costs. It’s a small change, but an important one. Elaine and I are going to do that personally, too. I hope you join us!

Editor’s Note: We are grateful to those who made gifts to our endowment this year to continue the legacy of so many caring members of Cincinnati Friends Meeting (CFM) who came before us. Without them, we would not be where we are today. For more information about donating to CFM through end-of-year IRA disbursements or naming CFM as a beneficiary as part of your insurance, will, or other gift in your estate planning, please contact Jim Newby or Glenn Williams to speak with them confidentially about how you can leave a legacy for CFM.

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