Each yearly meeting is an independent self-governing unit, but the sense of Quakerism being a world religion rather than just a local one is encouraged and maintained by a number of umbrella bodies which almost all yearly meetings belong to at least one of. The most widespread of these is the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), which is a body comprising representatives of yearly meetings and other Quaker groups throughout the world to act in a consultative capacity to promote better understanding among Friends the world over, particularly by the encouragement of joint conferences and intervisitation, the collection and circulation of information about Quaker literature and other activities directed toward that better understanding.
Most yearly meetings in the world are affiliated to FWCC. Each affiliated yearly meeting appoints representatives who are responsible for transacting the business, with the number of representatives is based on the size of the yearly meeting. These representatives together meet every few years to learn from each other and share experiences and to review what has been done in FWCC’s name and consider future tasks and programmes, although none of the decisions taken are binding on any of the constituent yearly meetings.