Over $5 million dollars was donated to a designated fund, “The Aurora Victim Relief Fund” after the Colorado theater shooting. The fund has reportedly sent checks for $5,000 to each family to assist with expenses. In addition $100,000 was distributed to non-profit organizations.
Many family members have expressed anger more funds have not been released, and that the survivors have been given no say in dispersing the funds. A few principles for setting up emergency funds are worth considering.
First, be clear in advance how funds will be utilized. Are they to go directly to survivors? Are funds fir home repair after a disaster? Are the funds designated to assist other nonprofit organizations responding? Any of these uses is valid, but need to be disclosed to those making donations. As Christians we must be crystal clear how raised funds will be used.
Second, when we set up an emergency fund we need to understand how to administer those funds. For example, who will do case management? If funding for home repairs who will determine the amount of loss? Who will understand what funds are provided by insurance, government payments and which costs are not?
Decisions needed by “The Aurora Victim Relief Fund” include which expenses to fund. Do survivors have uninsured medical expenses? If one person has a $50,000 bill covered by insurance they will not need help with those expenses while another with only a $1,500 bill, but no insurance will need help.
Other decisions include what type of expenses to cover. If family member travel to Colorado for a funeral, should those costs be covered? If so, does this include air, automobile travel? What about hotels and meals? Should family travel be covered for those visiting wounded survivors?
In addition, what about missed work? Should survivors receive payment for lost wages? Ho much? For how long?
Does the fund want o cover third party costs like trauma and grief counseling? If so, which counselors qualify for payment? Should a pastor providing counseling be compensated?
The answers to these, and other questions are not easy. To avoid problems and controversy in administrating disaster or relief funds consider three simple principles.
- Determine in advance how funds will be utilized
- Communicate that policy clearly to all who consider donating
- Establish experienced, qualified people to do case management
- Provide clear communication as to the funds raises and the plan to distribute those funds
- Provide transparency in every step
Organizations and individuals may want to respond immediately, however, when these steps are missed we may miss the mark.
Take the step of becoming a Ready Church and set in place in advance the key principles for disaster response, start here: http://bit.ly/GTXIvN