On June 21st, 2023, QVS held the 4th Annual Supporters’ Briefing. Over 30 QVS supporters joined us to discuss how the program is doing, the challenges we are facing as an organization, and participate in discerning a path forward. It was a rich evening filled with concern, creativity, and care for the future of the program. If you missed it, we hope you watch the recording below.
This year, the Supporters’ Briefing gave special attention to the challenges QVS faces due to low enrollment. As part of the program, QVS shared the recruitment numbers, why we think we are seeing a drop in interest, and some ideas for future program shifts. Most importantly, we invited attendees to engage in the discernment process and share ideas, queries, and reflections.
We hope you will watch the recording, but for a quick snapshot, we have included the slide deck, some recap, and a time-stamped outline of the event.
0:00 – Opening
0:52 – Agenda Overview
1:52 – Introductions
4:15 – Review of 2022-2023
4:30 – QVS by the numbers
6:30 – Staff Team
8:56 – Investing in our Alumni Community
13:12 – Fellow Story
18:31 – Current Challenges
19:29 – Pausing the Twin Cities Program
22:31 – Recruitment Trends
24:18 – Peer Institutions Experiencing Similar Trends
26:14 – Recruitment Challenges
33:16 – Recruitment Strategy
34:00 – Financials
38:43 – Strategic Plan
39:33 – Strategic Planning Process
41:38 – Two Meanings of “Radical”
43:36 – New Growth
48:23 – Worship Sharing and Q & A
1:15:57 – Ways to Support QVS and Closing
Briefing Slide Deck
Hover over and click on the left and right edges of the slides below to scroll through the slide deck.
Did You Know?
Recently we made the challenging, yet necessary, decision to Sabbath the Twin Cities QVS Program.
Planting Seeds for New Growth:
Exploring Program Adjustments to Address the needs of a New Generation
It is a unique and challenging time for Quaker Voluntary Service. We are noticing a decrease in interest from young adults, which is not unique to QVS. Across peer institutions, both religious and secular, young adults are less likely to elect to participate in service years. Due to low enrollment, the QVS Board of Directors made the difficult decision to pause the Twin Cities Program. While we are disappointed that we will not have Fellows in the Twin Cities this year, we are hopeful that this will only be a one-year hiatus. If you would like to read more about this decision, check out the blog post from Executive Director, Hilary Burgin.
While these recruitment challenges are of concern to QVS, we empathize with the new cohort of young adults that are categorized as Gen Z (born 1997-2012). This generation grew up during the Great Recession; active shooter drills have been a regular part of their schooling experience; they were impacted by the pandemic during an important developmental stage in life; they feel the looming sense of climate destruction more than any other generation; and if they choose to go to college, they often have an overwhelming amount of college debt. These stressors lead young folks to crave stability, particularly financial stability, and makes it more challenging to trust in community to support them.
QVS recognizes that a year of service inherently asks Fellows to put a pause on adding to their savings, which can feel like a big risk to this new generation. We are in the process of exploring changes to the program that will support Gen Z, while staying grounded in the original mission of the organization. Some of the seeds that have been planted include:
- An increased stipend for Fellows so that choosing to serve does not feel like a financial burden.
- Expanding the kinds of site placements we partner with beyond non-profit organizations. For example, this might include small businesses that align with our values.
- Allowing Fellows to self-design their site placement. This would be appropriate for prospective Fellows who already have a job opportunity in mind or a career path, but would like to live in intentional community and learn about the Quaker Way.
- Making some changes to lighten the expectations of the program. It is an intense year, and we have received feedback from recent Fellows that it can be overwhelming. We would like to see if we can find a middle ground, where the program is enriching, but not overly tiring.
During the event, we had the opportunity to hear from supporters and get feedback on these ideas. Hearing from our community of supporters is vital in helping us know which ideas to cultivate and grow into seedlings for future visioning. If you have the chance to watch the recording and would like to share your thoughts with QVS Staff and Board, we invite you to complete this feedback form.
Links Shared During the Event
In case you missed any of the links we shared in the chat during the briefing, here they are again.
On January 24, 2024 Quaker Voluntary Service held a special Supporters’ Briefing. While we usually hold this event annually in June, we felt it was important to hold an event sooner to share with supporters the program shifts recently approved by the Board of...
Photo: A potluck hosted by the Local Support Committee in the Twin Cities last year. Local enthusiasm for QVS kept the door open for a possible return to the Twin CitiesLast Spring, the QVS Board of Directors made the difficult decision to pause the program in...
Photo: The QVS Boston house on retreat in Sandwich, NH in the summer of 2023. If you read our blog about a shortened program year, you might be wondering, what will QVS do with the extended summer break? We are piloting a summer program! There are endless...
Additional Useful Links
- We wrote about the role of the City Coordinator here.
- Learn more about the launch of our endowment on our blog here.
- Meet our board members here.
- This is where you can give today, tomorrow, monthly, weekly, annually.
- To hear from three Friends and QVS Alumni about why they feel led to support the transformative work of QVS, check out this video.
Invest in QVS
When you give to QVS you are: empowering young adults to explore their spirituality and vocation; increasing capacity of social change and service organizations; fostering intergenerational connections in Friends meetings and churches; and building new leadership for the Religious Society of Friends and the world.
Consider giving a one-time or recurring gift online today to help sustain our program, or be in touch with us about non-financial or deferred giving options.
For more information about giving or to get connected to one of our program cities, contact Claire, our Development Director, [email protected].