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A good place to start researching your decision (and decisions like this one) would be   I'd suggest you download the 2 documents under "Guidelines for Preparing an Offering Schedule".

(Let us know if these tools are helpful.)

Also, have a look at:

Organizations on this list have been reviewed and approved by the annual synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.  Some primary requirements for receiving accreditation with the CRCNA include:

That the agency not duplicate a ministry that is being performed by a CRCNA agency.

That the agency soliciting the CRC for support is closely related to the CRC's integral work (works of mercy, of Christian education, or the distribution of the Word of God.)

That the agency is closely allied with CRC ecclesiastical task and can be recommended to the entire denomination for support.


When dealing with these kinds of situations I'd also suggest keeping some basic principles in mind (and perhaps developing policies based on the principles). 

I've found that the following can provide a very helpful start point.  (Adapted from The Oath for Compassionate Service by Robert Lupton in his book “Toxic Charity” p. 128)

  2. Never do for the others what they can do for themselves;
  3. Limit one-way giving to emergencies;  (this is an important principle of learning to Help Without Hurting)
  4. Strive to empower the materially poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements;
  5. Keep your self-interest secondary to the needs of those being served;
  6. Listen closely to those you seek to help;
  7. Above all, do no harm

I'd be extremely careful with this.  Check your bylaws and check your Benevolence (and/or offering) Policy.

Money collected for a cause must be used for the cause that it was collected for.  And since benevolence funds are not typically understood to be 'loan' funds, they can not be used to provide loans. 

In fact, if your church has a benevolence policy, it will likely include a sentence like:  "Disbursements from the Benevolent Fund may not be made in the form of a loan."

Hi Jennie,

Since this is unprecedented territory it's difficult to provide a lot in the way of clear guidance but I will make a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.  Hopefully others will chip in their thoughts. 

First, prayerfully stick with your benevolence policy as much as possible.  While it probably wasn't written for times exactly like these it's also likely that its original authors wrote a carefully considered document worth following.  (Remember the prayerful part.)

Secondly, at least in Canada, look for information going out from World Renew and Diaconal Ministries Canada (an email was sent to all deacon chairs) -- they are offering some extra $$ assistance and coaching to help deacons as they help others.

 Third, keep watching The Network -- a lot of great information on best practices is being shared here as well as here

And finally, and I'm borrowing this from a piece by Jodi Koeman which you can read in its entirety here , stick to Asset Based Community Development principles... 

--Remember relationships are the key so ask yourself (your diaconate, your church)

--What strengths and gifts do you or your church have to bring to this situation and to your community? What strengths are right in your neighborhood?

--If you cook, who needs a meal? 

--If you are an employer, consider how you will take care of your employees.

--If you have a car, how can you grocery shop for others or pick up medications? 

--If you are physically healthy, can you organize walking/running clubs that are virtual to encourage one another to stay healthy? 

--If you are a nurse, can your church provide a hotline to answer questions for neighbors?

--If your a praying persons PRAY

Perhaps be the organizes and mobilizes -- not necessarily the "do everything" folks. 

Remember it's not only and always about money. 

Be creative, work with others, and share what you're learning!  :-)

Hope this helps -- please share your thoughts and ideas below!



1 more addition...

Make sure that you are aware of all the government resources that are (becoming) available.  We have found on numerous occasions that people under stress have a hard time finding / tracking / accessing information that under normal circumstances they'd find easily.  Having a check list available for them can be very helpful.

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