And when we are not paid for our work, let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, begging alms from door to door. And the Lord revealed a greeting to me that we should say: "May the Lord give you peace!"
The Testament of St. Francis
FRANCISCANS AND FINANCES
Franciscans are beggars. While some Brothers will work part time to bring income to the community, and some other income may come to us by things that we make or other "works of our hands," the vast majority of our support comes from the simple generosity of the people of God. Our reliance on the generosity of others to sustain our way of life is a constant reminder that all we have is truly a gift from God. In a world virtually obsessed with the idea that we must all earn and "deserve" what we have, this is a profoundly counter-cultural way of living, and is one of the ways we seek to identify , at least symbolically, with the poor.
Saint Francis told his Brothers not to be ashamed to have "recourse to the table of the Lord," that is, to literally begging their daily bread. He initially insisted that neither individual Brothers nor the community itself should own any property, though he relented with regard to accepting community property later in life. He, and early rules of the friars, forbade Brothers from accepting donations of money, or even touching money. Over time, some Franciscans began exploring interesting ways around that principle, like wearing gloves or engaging someone else to handle the money for them. Rather than trying to get by on technicalities, we, like many modern Franciscans, try to live into the spirit of communal poverty in more meaningful ways.
We try to live simply in our houses, and to supplement our living budgets by donations from supporters. Brothers serving in a food pantry, for example, may be offered produce not taken by clients, which we can use instead of letting it go to waste. Friends of our households may contribute the food for a festive holiday meal for us to share with others. Supporters give us practical items to share with the needy, so that we can give more than our funding would otherwise allow.
We are very intentional about not amassing funds or large endowments. Any individual house does not keep on hand any funds beyond the anticipated need in the next six months. Funds in excess of this go to Provincial accounts to support the immediate needs of other houses, overall operating expenses, and contributions to SSF's international fund, supporting our Brothers elsewhere in the world, including in developing countries.
We do maintain some emergency savings, and we have a limited amount of income from trusts and bequests (again provided from "the table of the Lord" --our benefactors). But working "close to the wire" financially is a daily reminder of our need for God. In practical terms, we have no wish that our finances should outlive our usefulness. We will never bank many millions of dollars to provide "security" for our Society. We will, rather, use our money as a tool to serve the least.
Here are a few ways you can help:
Your financial contribution in any amount will help us continue our life and work. You can make a gift right now on-line by using the "Donate" button found at the bottom of any page of this site. If you prefer, you may mail a check, payable to "Society of St. Francis" to:
573 Dolores St,
San Francisco, CA 94110
Please note we cannot deposit checks made out to individual houses or Brothers.
You may also want to consider setting up a recurring payment, answering our prayer that God give us "our daily bread." Please contact us or your financial institution for assistance in this matter.
We always welcome in-kind gifts including food and other supplies for our households, clothing like socks, coats hats and gloves for our unsheltered neighbors, blankets, raingear, and other items that we can share with those in need.
Some friends have organized drives in local parishes, which not only helps those in need but raises awareness about their needs and our work.
Some collect and send items to one of our houses, others might place a direct order for supplies to be shipped to our attention. Both are tremendously helpful.
Contact any one of our Brothers or houses to find out what we can most use right now.
Many dear friends have continued their commitment to our work beyond the limit of their life with generous bequests. We have received cash bequests which have helped with large one time expenses (like replacing a car, or making a substantial repair to one of our houses), property bequests (which might provide us a new place for ministry or a potential for income), and trusts (which provide a certain amount of stable income, much of which is used for medical premiums and health care, our perennial largest expenses).
If you'd like to talk about remembering us in your will or through other bequests, please contact us, or consult your financial advisor.
The Society of St. Francis Province of the Americas is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Please consult your tax professional.