Funding Quaker Ministry
January 25, 2013 § 8 Comments
A couple of months ago I learned of an idea that I believe is a breakthrough of continuing revelation on a par with the clearness committee. It’s a proposal by Friends Vonn New of Bulls Head-Oswego Meeting in New York Yearly Meeting and Viv Hawkins of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for funding Quaker ministry through a crowd-sourcing platform modeled on Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects in which creatives publish what amounts to a grant proposal for their project and visitors to the website then pledge whatever support they want. If the project reaches the funding goal set by its creator, then the donors’ credit cards are charged and the creator is off and running.
Vonn and Viv’s idea (I call it QuakeStarter) is to do the same for Quaker ministers. Someone led by the Spirit into some form of service describes on the website what they want to do, documents the discernment they have received so far, and declares the amount and kind of support they need to be faithful to their leading. Friends (and others) can then go to the website and pledge support for the ministry. If the minister’s request for pledges reaches its goal, then the cards get charged and the service is secured.
When this idea takes off, we will undoubtedly discover unexpected issues and see unintended consequences, as is always the case with Quaker ministry. But won’t that be an adventure!
When I learned about this idea, I was in the process of editing an issue of Spark, New York Yearly Meeting’s newsletter, with the theme of Cultivating Gifts in Ministry. I invited them to write an article for Spark and they did. Click here to read “Ministry & Money: A Proposal” on the NYYM website to get a better idea of their goals and rationale.
They dedicate much of the article to rationale—why such a tool is needed. It boils down to the fact that important ministry is languishing because the ministers can’t afford to pursue it. Most of the ministers they mention are young adults. One hears a lot these days about how important it is to encourage young adult Friends, while many of our institutions are pulling back on the funding that supports this sort of work. Viv and Vonn’s idea is a creative way to do something that we all agree is important independently of the failing resources of our established institutions.
Catch-22: Viv and Vonn need support themselves to get this project off the ground. Vonn is a web developer, so they have what it takes to pull it off. They end their article with this appeal, which I wholeheartedly support:
Vonn New and Viv Hawkins seek others who are interested in this project, whether that be Friends with ministries under the care of a meeting seeking support, individuals or faith communities seeking the services of a ministry, people seeking to provide support to ministries, Friends with expertise in funding and governance, or funders for this particular project. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
I hope my readers will consider spreading the word about this idea and about offering some support of their own.