Ways to Enhance Relief Fund Annual Goal Setting for the New YearDecember 16, 2019
Today more than ever, we need our employees to feel part of one global family. Our international employees are valuable assets and we want to retain them. Studies show that providing disaster and medical hardship assistance increases retention and gets them back to being productive employees on a more-timely basis. Yet many organizations are hesitant to include their international team members in their relief funds. They are afraid of the unknown including the administrative costs, compliance requirements, and the logistics of getting the funds to the grantee. Given the numerous international disasters and traumas including the Coronavirus outbreak, we need to respond and become comfortable with providing aid to our employees internationally. Increasingly domestic employees want a vehicle to help their counterparts around the world.
The first step is to find a partner who understands the administration of international grants. Generally, the administrative costs of international grants should not be significantly higher than domestic grants. However, to minimize costs, you have to be thoughtful in addressing the unique circumstances of awarding grants in multiple countries.
Issues to be addressed in the planning phase include:
- What are the needs of your employees in that country? If they have national health insurance, for example, what are their medical hardship needs? Is it urgent smaller funding for evacuation or large, long-term needs to rebuild homes?
- Who will make the donations to fund the grants and fees? Cultural differences may impact employee giving, although payroll deduction, PayPal, Benevity, Your Cause and other robust employee engagement platforms have been found to be successful in a few countries. Before soliciting funds make sure you understand the solicitation and data privacy/securityrequirements such as the EU’s GDPR laws
- Do you need to translate materials including the grant application into the local language? Easily done and not expensive but is it necessary if English is generally accepted and used by your organization.
- Do you have a local administrator(s) who can help both promote the fund and assist with the completion of the application? To minimize costs the application must be completed fully the first time. Helping the employee understand the information requirements is best facilitated locally.
- What unique circumstances do your employees face? These may be disaster related or cultural. For example, in the recent Bahamas hurricane disaster, many of the banks and cash transfer services such as Western Union offices were destroyed preventing employees from collecting their grants. Even if the office was open, several employees did not have government issued identification that was required to collect their grant from Western Union or their name did not match their ID.
- Do your employees have bank accounts? By far the most efficient and cost-effective way to get funds to the grantee is a wire transfer into their bank account. American Express does not charge fees to wire the funds being converted to local currency. The funds can reach the grantee’s bank account in a few days as long as all information is accurate and complete. Grantees who cannot leave their homes or have been evacuated, can access those funds to pay bills online. However, they must have bank accounts.
- If your employees do not have bank accounts, do they have email addresses? In order to use other services such as Western Union and PayPal, email addresses are required to communicate the process and password for receiving their grant.
EAF has developed relationships with international financial services firms who know the local compliance requirements and can seamlessly transfer the funds directly to the grantee’s bank account. Our experience allows us to anticipate the information requirements for each country. For example, Russia requires multiple tax identification codes while the Philippines may ask for birthdates and proof of citizenship. The experience that EAF has in awarding international grants allows them to guide you through each of the issues discussed above, eliminating the fear of the unknown. Your international employees deserve the same support your domestic employees receive. The rewards will be great from the heartfelt thanks, to increased employee retention to happier, more productive employees very loyal to your organization.
Original article Emergency Assistance Foundation
Cindy brought a wealth of financial and nonprofit experience when she joined EAF as consulting CFO in 2018. As an audit partner with Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) she served such nonprofit clients as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Since then she has served as board member and an officer for several international nonprofit organizations including serving as President of the William & Mary Alumni Association, and Treasurer of the Society of International Business Fellows, the Virginia Special Olympics, The William & Mary Foundation and the Global Network Foundation. She has provided consulting services to numerous nonprofits on process improvement, systems selection and implementation, investing, financial reporting and compliance including tax reporting. She has also served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of several privately held corporations including Prestige Brands International, Comtrad Industries, Posh Brands and At Home America. She is the author of A Guide to Nonprofit Board Success: Answering the Call of Leadership and has published articles in The Journal of Accountancy and on Nonprofit Information.com. She is a frequent speaker on nonprofit leadership and strategic planning.