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The Quarter-Century Society, Inc.

White Paper


The Society

The Quarter-Century Society, Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to serving the needs of its members who find themselves in financial distress. For almost 90 years, the Society has been committed to the cause of providing comfort and financial assistance to its members. This is its sole purpose, mandate, and the reason for its existence.


In order to qualify for membership, an individual must have worked as a full time employee for International Paper, a wholly acquired company, or a wholly owned subsidiary, for 25 years or more. For employees of acquired companies, years served with that company, plus the time employed by International Paper as a full time employee following the acquisition, even if the term was only one day, must accrue to 25 or more years of total employment. Those 25-year employees of acquired companies who retired or were terminated prior to the acquisition date are not eligible for membership in the Society.

“White Paper” Objective

The purpose of this White Paper is intended to provide background on how the Society was started, how it functions, and provide background and guidance for future Boards of Directors. Research provides ample examples of how other foundations have changed from their inception. Some philanthropic groups have completely lost their way, losing sight of the original intent of their founders and those individuals who contributed money and energy to establishing the group. In doing so, they abrogate the expressed purpose of those individuals who created the vision and impetus to establish and sustain the movement. Therefore, in order to provide guidance to the Society’s future Boards of Directors, the members, and the chapters, this Board desires to clearly state its goals and affirm the express purpose of the Society.

With this concept in mind, a Mission Statement was developed by an earlier Board. It is worth memorializing the statement here;

Mission Statement

“The Society’s purpose is to provide financial aid quickly and confidentially to and for the benefit of a member or a deceased member’s surviving eligible dependent that is in need of financial assistance in the face of misfortune or emergency.”

It’s worth emphasizing that strict confidentiality must be maintained. The names of the individuals requesting a grant, the amounts granted, and/or detail of the need is never to be shared beyond those persons on the Chapter Investigative Committee with the immediate need to know. Dissemination of any information regarding the awarding of a grant, is neither sought, nor accepted by the Society.

Founding of the Society

The Society was established in 1923 in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of the creation of International Paper Company. It was incorporated in the State of New York. Initially International Paper was comprised of 18 paper mills located throughout the Northeastern part of the United States and Canada. Chapters were established at each of those facilities, along with a chapter at the corporate headquarters in New York City. From its initial charter, the purpose of the Society was, “to promote good fellowship and cooperation among its members and to encourage loyalty to International Paper, and to confer such other material benefits as may be practicable and consistent with the Membership Corporation Law.” Membership Corporation Law governs organizations which are established for purposes other than making a profit. Such not-for-profits typically include social and religious organizations and philanthropic groups which have memberships rather than shareholders.

In the beginning the Society had an entrance fee of $20.00, and annual dues of $5.00. The dues were reduced to $1.00 per year from 1929 through 1935. Initially the purpose of the Society was social as much as it was philanthropic. Establishing social venues was an important element in building loyalty and harmony with the employees and their families, as well as improving the quality of life in isolated towns and villages where the paper mills were located. As the company expanded following the Depression and World War II, venues for socialization such as clubs, pools and golf courses were established. With the expansion of the company to the timber-rich south, Quarter Century chapters were established at most mill locations in the Southeast.

Since 1950, all income has come from the Society’s investments. No dues or fees are collected from members. In 1950 the Society became a separate legal entity from International Paper. It is a unique organization whose primary function is charity to its members. It receives no financial contributions from the Company. It has its own Board of Directors, management, constitution, sources of income and tax identification number. It is a tribute to the leadership and vision of International Paper for establishing this unique service organization. Founded in 1923, it still exists today as a healthy, vibrant, caring service organization.

Along with the separation of the Society from the Company in 1950, the language of the mission was expanded. The mandate’s language still guides the Society’s actions to this day. Specifically, “to make contributions to or for the benefit of its members, their families or legal representatives who are in need and who, in the judgment of the Director, require financial assistance.” The Director they refer to is the Executive Director today.


It was no small undertaking to establish and foster an organization designed to serve solely the needs of its employees. One of the leaders in establishing the Society was former President Joseph L. Fearing. Mr. Fearing supported the Society in word and deed, making significant financial contributions at the beginning. Other senior executives joined him. Their individual contributions, along with contributions from the company, enabled the Society to exist through the difficult years of the Depression and World War II. Under Mr. Fearing’s leadership the scope of the Society and the operation of its chapters was defined, and the Society expanded in the US and Canada.

Tax Status

The Quarter-Century Society, Inc. is a 501 (c) 4 corporation. It must file a return with the IRS every year. From the beginning, personal donations have played a critical part in the founding and maintenance of the Society. However, as a 501 (c) 4, contributions are not tax deductible. So it is in the spirit of real charity that we ask those members who can, and believe that the Society’s important work should be continued, either to make a contribution, or consider including a contribution to the Society in their wills.

Organizational Structure

The Board of Directors is comprised of 12 people, all of whom must be members of the Society. Board terms are for three years, with a two term limit. While residing in Memphis, TN is a plus, it is not critical. It makes sense for new members to reside in Memphis so that they can attend meetings and participate in special committees as requested. There are four quarterly meetings per year, along with a mandated annual meeting in December. Members may participate through conference call. Members missing two consecutive meetings without prior notice or other involvement are considered to have automatically resigned from the Board. In addition to the Executive Director, there is a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Terms for the officers are for one year, with a three-year term limit.

In recent years, direct involvement of Board members at chapter events has proven to be a most effective means of reaching out and helping existing chapters and starting new ones. Regional assignments have been contemplated in the past. Whether based on geography, or particular knowledge of a business, the linkage has worked. We suggest that this effort be continued in the future.

The Chapter

All Society activities are organized through the local chapter. The chapter is led by a Governing Board, which consists of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. Today there are over 30 chapters located in the United States and Canada. There are over 13,000 members in these chapters. As recently as 1983, there were 33 chapters in the United States and 15 chapters in Canada with a membership estimated at 18,000. As time has passed and with facilities being sold or closed, membership has declined. However, the Society has the ability to reach out to and help individuals, even if they are not part of an active chapter. Keeping chapters operating following the closure of a home base remains one of the Society’s greatest challenges. Each chapter is required to submit annual and semi-annual financial reports which are described in chapter By-laws and in the “How To” manual.

All activities of the chapters, including the establishment of new chapters, and dissolution of old chapters, are managed by the Executive Director and the Board of Directors in Memphis.

Regional Expansion Programs - The “Hub and Spokes” Concept

With the Company’s rapid expansion in the corrugated business along with xpedx facilities, many facilities are not large enough to sustain a chapter on their own. While a critical mass of only 10 members is required, many converting facilities and warehouses do not have the headcount to justify stand-alone chapters. The Board has agreed in principal that small locations may be serviced through a large regional base, such as a mill or major sales office. The investigative effort would still be conducted on a sub-chapter basis. The funds would be disbursed by the regional hub, and replaced by the Society as needed.

Board members are encouraged to establish regular contact with chapters in the area of their residences thereby expanding the reach of the Society. The Executive Director and/or Board members will call on the chapters on a regular basis, attending as many of the chapter’s annual meetings as necessary, and explaining the Society’s mission.

The Executive Director

The Executive Director (or ED) serves as the CEO of the Society. The ED may or may not be a member of the Board. In the past ED’s served for an indefinite period of time. This practice was changed in 2007 when a term of five years was established. The concept of establishing a back up, someone who would assume the ED’s responsibilities in case of their incapacitation was established at that time. In the past there was no term limit on holding the position. Several ED’s served in that capacity for over 20 years. The rationale for initiating a fixed term was to ensure a steady stream of new concepts and ensure that the ED was not placed in the role in perpetuity. Changes in leadership should also allow for new methods of operation. The ED is not an employee of the Society, but provides services as a consultant for which he/she is paid a fee. The fee is established and approved by the Board. Reasonable expenses are allowed for travel to chapter meetings and Board meetings.

For succession planning and general management purposes, it is suggested that the practice of having at least one Board member, or friend of the Society, who would be willing to step into the role of ED if necessary, be continued.


The Society’s funds are invested in an approximate 50-50 mix of fixed assets and equities. Board members are provided quarterly statements of the cost basis and market value of all investments. There is a money market account as well as a checking account. All of the Society’s financial transactions, including those of the chapters, are handled through checks. Cash or money order transactions are expressly forbidden.

Currently the funds are administered by State Street Bank and Trust Company, Boston, MA, along with the assistance of IP Trust Investments. The goal of the investments is to make a return that is sufficient to sustain the cost of all grants plus expenses over the cycle. The Society’s investment objective is to satisfy the need for capital preservation and liquidity. There is an annual allocation of earnings to the chapters which is covered separately. Chapters may receive funding beyond its annual allocation and bank balance upon written request to the ED. The source of funds beyond the chapter allocation is handled through the Society’s Emergency Reserve.

Grant Giving

Investigations of all grants are initiated and conducted by the Chapter Investigative Committee. This group typically consists of the Chapter Governing Committee as well as other members of the chapter as requested. The need for a grant is surfaced through the Committee or a member. Guidelines for the investigation have been established and are available on the web site and the Society’s “How To” manual. Guidelines have also been established for annual and lifetime financial limits. If the chapter has insufficient funds in their bank account to provide a grant, they contact the Executive Director. The ED considers the request, and assuming he/she is in agreement, sends a check to the chapter Treasurer to cover the grant. A copy of the letter is sent to the chapter officers. The Society’s Cash Committee is advised in writing when funds beyond the chapter’s annual allocation are required.

Total grants made in 2011 were $52,283.00. In the past ten years the Society has granted over $1,000,000. It is the goal of the Society to provide funds when and where needed, and not have an arbitrary annual grant objective. It responds to reasonable requests that have been properly vetted, and no more. In some years when there were acts of God such as flooding and hurricanes, over $100,000 has been granted. It is the Board’s objective to respond to genuine need, whether that need is $50,000 or $150,000. With a corpus of approximately $3,000,000, it is anticipated that with modest returns from investments, along with controls that are already in place, the Society will be able to accomplish its mission for many years to come.

Check Writing Authority

The ED is authorized by the Board to write checks for the Society. A personal limit of $10,000 has been established before a second signature is required. The ED may not write a check to him/herself. Checks to the ED for payment of quarterly consulting fees or travel expenses require two signatures of Board members, typically the President and the Assistant Treasurer. Three or four Board members are authorized to sign Society checks at any given time.

“The Bulletin”

The Bulletin, the Society’s newsletter, was established in 2007. It is published quarterly. It contains news of the Society, chapters, people and the status of the Society’s finances. It is emailed to a constantly expanding distribution list and it appears on the Society’s web site. The expense of postage and printing precludes mailing via US mail. Printing and postage expense are expected to increase in future years. This instrument has proven to be a widely read and anticipated periodical. It has enabled former colleagues to reunite, and encouraged new chapters to form. In addition to the distribution list and web site, many chapters post the newsletter on facility bulletin boards, and use the information contained for meetings.

The Web Site

The Society’s web site,, was established in 2007. Since that time it has been expanded in scope and reach. Each chapter has the capability of having its own page on the site. In the future, the goal is to make the site more interactive, including allowing chapters to file their financial reports on line. Much of the work of the Society and the chapters is still handled on paper, including record keeping and report writing. It can be very challenging to keep up with for both the chapter and the ED. Having a viable web site which can be easily updated is essential for the future management of the Society. In the past individual Board members with expertise in web sites have served as web manager. Finding volunteers with knowledge of systems and willingness to help will be instrumental to the success of the site in the future. In order to achieve a professional and functioning web site, funds may have to be dedicated to the cause.

The Future

Since its founding in New York in 1923, the Society has been providing comfort and financial assistance to its members. We believe it is unique in its composition, its capability and its mission. It is our hope that the Society will continue to operate for many years to come, fulfilling the same mission, quickly and confidentially. Sufficient funding, along with proper controls, already exists to sustain the Society’s operations. Efforts to raise additional funds for future needs through contributions will be continued through the “Bulletin” and direct contacts. The trend on membership has been steady, despite the closing of several chapters through the years. Lost chapters have been reopened. New chapters are being created at acquired facilities for those employees who qualify. With prudent investment, and reasonable returns, the Society should be able to continue to serve its members for many years to come.

The Quarter-Century Society, Inc., combining a rich history, an ambitious objective, and a focus on the future.

September 2012





Downloadable version of White Paper