The Family Aid Fund (FAF)
The Reboot Series - Part 11 of 20; May 2010
The Family Aid Fund (FAF) is a program that has been very successful over the last 15 years that it has been in place.
Since its beginnings in May 1995, thousands of Family members have directly benefited in some way, through receiving pioneer gifts, baby bonuses, passed-on (bereavement) gifts, HER funds, home loans, emergency medical aid, or other emergency assistance. The FAF has been a great way to support one another in times of need.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have faithfully contributed 1% to the FAF each month. Our gratitude also goes to each of you who initially gave to the FAF to help get it started 15 years ago. The FAF program wouldn't have been possible without those initial contributions.
The FAF program will continue as a mechanism for providing assistance to Family members in emergency situations. With the changes in membership requirements and eliminating the membership levels, we need to make some adjustments to the FAF program so that it dovetails with the new TFI structure.
The FAF will be a voluntary program, meaning that members will not be required to contribute financially to the FAF. The FAF will be available to all TFI members who wish to participate in this program. TFI members who participate in the FAF program by contributing monthly will be eligible to request FAF assistance in emergency situations.
This document will outline the new FAF structure and policies.
The purpose of the FAF
The overall purpose of the FAF remains as it has been: A common fund which participating members donate to monthly, and from which those same members can apply for aid in emergency situations.
The FAF also gives fixed grants to participating members automatically upon request, under certain circumstances, such as when a baby is born or to cover funeral and related expenses when someone passes on.
The FAF is not an insurance policy, social security program, or pension fund. Its primary purpose is to provide emergency assistance to participating members who find themselves in dire circumstances and therefore request a FAF grant.
In an insurance policy program, participants pay a monthly premium, and the insurance company will pay out a fixed amount under very specific conditions stated in the contract (fire, accident, death, etc.). Or, in the case of a social security program or pension fund, once the participant reaches a certain age, they're automatically eligible to claim a monthly payment, based on what they have paid in to the program over the years.
The FAF is an emergency aid fund. FAF participants are eligible to apply for a grant when faced with an emergency (medical or other qualifying emergencies) that they are unable to cover through other means.
As the amounts contributed to the FAF are relatively small, FAF grants to participating members are not likely to represent huge sums. Nevertheless, being able to request assistance from the FAF can provide substantial help in time of need, as many members have experienced.
The circumstances under which participating members can apply for grants are the following:
- Mission-work-related emergencies*
- Baby born (€200, "baby bonus")**
- Bereavement (€1,700, "passed-on gift")***
(* Mission-work emergencies are emergency situations where members experience hardship from events such as war, political/civil unrest in their country of service, natural catastrophes, or severe persecution, and require emergency assistance, whether to evacuate their field or to cope with the hardship, etc.)
(** While not an emergency, it's a blessing for participating parents having a baby to receive a small grant to cover some of the extra expenses of having a baby. This particular grant will continue. This is a single grant per child born.)
(*** This is a grant given to help cover funeral and related costs when someone passes on. If the person who died participated in the FAF, those responsible for the funeral and other related costs will be given a bereavement gift for that purpose. Or if an individual is participating in the FAF and someone in their communal home or a member of their nuclear family passes on, and they're responsible to cover the funeral, etc., the FAF participant(s) will be given a bereavement gift to help cover funeral and related expenses. (One grant will be issued in the event of a person's passing, not one gift per FAF participant involved.))
Because the reporting requirements and procedures are being greatly simplified, we will no longer have the information needed to automatically send out certain grants, such as those for babies born or to help defray costs when someone passes on. So those will instead be sent out upon request. If you're participating in the FAF and are having a baby, please inform the FAF administration team at the start of your last trimester, and you'll receive the grant. Likewise, if you're participating in the FAF and someone you're living with passes on (or the person who passed on was a FAF participant), and you're responsible for funeral and other costs related to the deceased, you may apply to receive the bereavement grant.
(Note: The FAF will also offer interest-free loans to participating members; this point is covered in the next section.)
We're discontinuing the following grants, which used to be part of the FAF:
- "Tool fund" gifts. This is a small amount of funds that each member was given many years ago in cash or Family products ("tools"), and which, when they moved homes, would be passed on to their new home. This tool fund was given at a time when most Family members were supported through product distribution; the intent was to help homes establish and maintain a stock of products to facilitate their support.
Since members' means of support are now greatly diversified (and will likely be even more so in the future), this fund will be discontinued.
If you have the equivalent of these funds in products, you can keep the products. If you have the money in cash, you can keep the funds if you need them. If in a communal home, you would divide the products or funds equally between the home members. Or, if you can afford it, we ask that you consider sending these funds in with your next tithe, and they will be added back into the FAF. Thank you.
- "Pioneer gifts." With the expanded membership and the discontinuation of members' residences being official Family bases, continuing to give a gift to each new household that moves locations isn't economically feasible. The original purpose of this grant was to assist in the pioneering of new mission works.
In time, we would like to institute a "mission fund" for the purpose of giving gifts or loans to new mission works or start-up mission projects in need. Grants wouldn't be given based on whether members are moving to a new house or establishing a new communal home (as was the case with pioneer gifts), but if a new mission work or project needed assistance to get started, they could request a grant from this mission project fund. (This fund would probably be established separately from the FAF.)
Income to TFI is low at this time, so we're not in a position to establish this fund right now. But it's something we would like to do when finances permit.
Eligibility and procedures
Members can choose to participate in the FAF in one of two ways:
- If tithing, they have the option of either donating 1% of their income (or of the combined income of the participating adults, in the case of a family or a communal home that sends in their combined tithe), or giving a minimum monthly donation of €15/month per participating member 16 and up.
- If giving a monthly contribution (rather than tithing), they can give a minimum monthly amount of €15/month per participating member (16 and up).
Generally, the 1% model is recommended as the default option for participation in the FAF program. But a minimum fixed contribution is an option for those who prefer it.
- Whether 1% or a fixed amount, a member's contribution to the FAF is separate from and in addition to their tithe or monthly membership contribution. (All FAF contributions should be sent to WS, even if the participating individual is tithing to another member. If a member participating in the FAF is tithing to a member tithing to WS, the latter is required to pass on the former's full FAF contribution.)
- Because contributing 1% (contrasting with contributing €15/month) is generally the less expensive option, particularly for those with lower incomes, this option is only available to members who are tithing (whether they're tithing directly to TFI or tithing to other TFI members as detailed in the document on tithing and giving), as a benefit to members who are tithing.
- Requests for assistance from the FAF must fall within the purpose of the FAF, as described below, in order to be granted. All requests are subject to approval.
- If a family or a communal home is jointly tithing, the 1% contribution to the FAF is based on the combined income of those participating. All those giving the 1% together would be eligible to apply for FAF grants.
- The option of contributing €15/month is per participating member, age 16 and up. So for a couple, this would be €30/month for the two of them, which would make them both eligible to apply for FAF grants.
- Parents who are participating in the FAF are eligible to request assistance from the FAF for themselves or their children under 16 who live with them.
Minors who are 16 or older, and who are members, would also need to be contributing to the FAF in order to benefit from it. That means that if participating members have children living with them who are 16 or over and who are also members, the parents would either give 1% of their family's combined income, or €15 per member of their family who is over 16.
Children under 16 are considered "children of members" rather than members themselves, and are therefore covered by participating parents in any case.
- There are no stipulations as to how long members participating in the FAF program have to be donating to the FAF, or have to be TFI members, before they can request assistance.
- While members participating in the FAF program are expected to contribute monthly to the FAF for as long as they wish to be eligible for FAF assistance, should a member on rare occasion forget or be unable to donate to the FAF, they wouldn't automatically become ineligible for FAF assistance, or be unreasonably denied assistance if they later apply for a grant.
- Rather than the FAF operating solely on hard-and-fast rules that don't allow for exceptions, the FAF grant guidelines include flexibility and reasonability. With that flexibility, in terms of contributing to the FAF and requesting grants comes the risk of someone trying to take advantage of the program; but we trust that members will not do so, as that would hurt other Family members who are contributing to the FAF and affect their ability to receive assistance in emergency situations.
Records of contributions to the FAF will be kept, so if someone is obviously not respecting the program, that individual's requests would not be granted.
We also ask that you not switch options frequently (of contributing 1% monthly or contributing €15/member monthly) based on what might suit you that particular month. If you choose to participate in the FAF, thank you for respecting the program.
- You can participate in the FAF by making the appropriate selection in your membership account on the reporting site. The amount will automatically be added to your monthly report, to be sent to WS (either directly by you, or through whoever you are reporting with, depending on the option you choose on the site). For as long as you continue your monthly contribution, you're automatically a participating member in the FAF. (As mentioned earlier, one member might report for a group of members, such as a communal home. In that case, that member would specify on his report which members he's reporting for, for whom he would send the collective 1%, and who would likewise be considered participants in the FAF.)
- Information on requesting FAF grants and loans can be found on the reporting site, or you can write to email@example.com.
- For any questions about your loan or grant request, or the FAF program in general, please contact the FAF administrative team using the messaging system built into the reporting site, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note to current FDs/MMs: If you choose not to continue to participate in the FAF program after the reboot, since you've been giving to the FAF already, you will still be eligible to make grant requests to the FAF in emergency situations, for up to 15 months after the reboot—in other words, from June 2010 through August 2011.)
(*Previously known as "home loans.")
Another useful function of the FAF has been to offer short-term interest-free loans to members.
Hundreds of Family homes have benefited from these loans. On average, about 100 loans have been made per year. This service will continue to be available to members participating in the FAF program.
Since our reporting system is now individually based, and not all Family members live or report as communal homes, some adjustment is needed on how loans are given out and who is responsible for them. (We will also term such loans "FAF loans" rather than the previous "home loans.")
- As with FAF grants, FAF loans are only available to FAF participants.
In a situation where a number of members are living together, and some are FAF participants and others are not (for example, they live in the same house, but don't have their finances in common), those who are FAF participants would be able to take out the loan, which they can use for expenses that may benefit others living with them, even if the others aren't FAF participants.
The responsibility to repay the loan rests on the FAF participants, as they're the ones requesting and receiving the loan.
- Rather than a home taking out a loan and being responsible to pay it back, the loan would be granted to an individual, or a group of individuals, who would be responsible for the repayment.
In the case of a communal home whose members are reporting their finances together, one member (likely the person doing the financial report) would take out the loan on behalf of the home (the group of members reporting together). However, each member automatically assumes the responsibility to pay back an equal portion of the loan, and their names would be recorded with the loan details by the finance desk administering the loan. The loan might then be repaid by the person doing the finance report, on behalf of the communal home's members from their collective finances.
If someone moves from the home and starts reporting on their own, that person would be assigned their remaining portion of the loan, which they would be responsible to repay personally (unless the remaining members of the home agree to assume the departing member's portion of the loan, such as in the case of the item purchased with the loan remaining in the home; for example, a vehicle). It is the responsibility of the person reporting on the loan to notify the FAF administration of the name and amount of the loan being assumed by a member leaving their home. (This can be done using the messaging system on the reporting site.)
For example: If a communal home of eight adults takes out a loan of €1,200, each member would be responsible for a €150 loan, even though they're repaying it communally. With the loan being repaid in ten months, at the rate of 10% repaid each month, the person reporting the finances for the communal home would include the payment of €120 a month with their monthly report on behalf of all the other members of the home. As they repay the loan each month, each member's portion of the loan would decrease by €15 that month (€120 divided by the eight adults).
Say that, after four months, a member leaves or starts reporting on their own instead of with the communal home. That person would then be responsible for a €90 loan (their original total portion was €150, and €60 was repaid over the previous four months). The loan owed by the communal home would then be €630 (€1200 minus four months' payment totaling €480, minus the €90 of the departing member).
If the home splits up before the loan is repaid in full, the individual members would be responsible for their share of the outstanding portions of the loan. (This is essentially how it has operated so far.)
(Note: Any current outstanding home loans for communal homes will be the responsibility of the members who are currently part of the home. If some of those members begin to report on their own, they would be responsible to pay their portion of the home loan. They should inform the FAF administration desk, via the reporting site, of any such changes to the loan repayment terms.)
- The repayment period for FAF loans will remain 10 months, interest-free. Loans must be repaid at the rate of 10% of the loan a month, for 10 months. You can include the repayment in your monthly report.
- FAF loans are a binding financial obligation between the FAF and FAF recipients, and must be repaid, even if those who take the loan discontinue their TFI membership. Failure to repay a FAF loan, in the absence of an agreement reached with the FAF administration desk, may result in loss of FAF privileges, temporarily or permanently.
Members taking out a FAF loan will need to fill out the appropriate FAF loan form and sign a contract of agreement to repay the loan. (As has been the case till now, the agreement to repay a FAF loan must be signed by the individual member applying for/receiving the loan, or by all members of the communal home applying for/receiving the loan.)
For many years, some of the available FAF finances were held by FD homes, via the Home Emergency Reserve (HER) program. This gave homes immediate access to funds in cases of emergency or when their FAF request was granted.
Since we're now expanding the FAF program to be available to all members (not just those in communal homes), it's not logistically possible for each home or member to keep part of the FAF with them. There isn't enough to give each individual member a fair-sized amount to reserve for emergencies, and it would also mean that the FAF wouldn't have the funds on hand to give out larger emergency grants. The possibilities of money being lost or misappropriated would also be greater. (Earlier this year, as you know, the HERs were collected in order to ensure that the FAF would remain able to provide assistance to needy members despite increased personnel movement and fluctuation among homes.)
At the same time, there needs to be a mechanism whereby members can quickly receive their grant in the case of an emergency that they have requested FAF help with. In some countries this isn't a problem, as money can be wired or transferred within 24 hours. But there are other countries where money transfers are difficult or slow.
We'll be establishing a mechanism to facilitate the speedy transfer of funds, in cases of emergency, to members participating in the FAF. This mechanism will vary from country to country. In some cases, funds might be held by a member within the country who can quickly disburse aid to members within that country. In some isolated cases, members themselves might need to hold some FAF funds, which they would account for. Where there is adequate financial infrastructure, funds would be sent via bank, electronic, or online transfer.
As the February 2010 notice regarding collecting the HER funds said, "The goal for the Family Aid Fund has not changed. Its purpose of assisting those in need, of aiding in emergencies, remains the same. If you are in an emergency situation that requires financial aid, you can appeal to the Family Aid Fund as usual." We will work on finding the most practical solutions for making FAF assistance available to participating members, whichever country they are in.
Opting in to the FAF program can be a blessing to you, and even if you don't face emergency situations personally, your contributions will benefit other participating Family members around the world when they need emergency assistance. It's our prayer that the FAF will continue to be a blessing to TFI members worldwide.
Copyright © 2010 by The Family International