In computer engineering-particularly chip manufacturing-there is a concept called a “substrate”. A substrate is a medium for design; that is, it is the actual substance that a computer chip’s design is imprinted upon.
The whole idea of a computer chip is that it directs the flow of electricity coming in through one or more of its input pins, to a variety of locations situated elsewhere in the computer. This flow is governed by a design, which is very much like the flowing of water along canals. Canals have to be dug somewhere, however; without dirt, even the best of architects cannot create anything.
Dirt is to the canal builder what a substrate is to the chip builder. The most common substrate is silicon, but there are others. The main point is that even if there are huge amounts of electricity and the best of designs, without a substrate, neither can influence the affairs of men. It is then only an idea, or a lofty concept. The rubber does not meet the road until a substrate is provided.
In like manner, so it seems to me, the Fund is to the spiritual designs of Bahá’u’lláh what a substrate is to the chip manufacturer. Bahá’u’lláh has fashioned a New World Order, and provided for our lasting peace, but unless the physical mechanism for conveying this vital energy is erected, humanity will not receive its benefit.
By giving to the Fund we offer exactly that material ingredient. Our money goes toward the expansion and maintenance of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, of which Shoghi Effendi wrote, “Bahá’u’lláh has given to the world institutions to operate in an Order designed to canalize the forces of a new civilization.”
These forces are spiritual in nature, and hence intangible, in the way that water is intangible and will slip through our fingers if we try to hold on to it. If we wish to bring that water to someone, a vessel is required. This is how the material serves the spiritual. And this, I believe, is how the fund relates to the communication of those energies latent in the Bahá’í Faith to the rest of the world.