NCUF: Closing Out 2005, Preparing For 2006

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With the 2006 hurricane season now upon us, the National Credit Union Foundation has disbursed all of the funds it collected to help credit union employees affected by 2005's devastating storms.

The plan this year: begin raising disaster relief funds before the first weather systems even form (and then hope they're not ever needed). A key part of the NCUF's fundraising plan is built upon using the Internet.

The foundation distributed funds raised from among credit unions to help credit union employees in three phases, primarily distributed in the Gulf Coast hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. During each phase the criteria for distributing funds were changed. Most recently in Phase III, 226 individuals received $1.26 million in assistance for uninsured losses and other expenses, with checks going to state leagues and league reps then taking the checks to the respective credit unions to hand out to employees.

In Phase I, the first $1 million in funds went to employees with emergency needs such as food, shelter, clothing and other daily living essentials. In Phase II, the next $1 million primarily helped those still out of their homes and awaiting insurance payments.

"Hundreds of Gulf Coast credit union employees are still living under very difficult conditions, facing long commutes and expensive payments-in many cases making payments on more than one home," said Steve Bosack, deputy director of the foundation.

Realizing it couldn't make grants large enough to make all employees whole or provide extra incentives to "critical" employees defined by some subjective criteria, Bosack said the NCUF developed an objective system based on applications from CU employees.

The applications asked employees to update, quantify, and certify their unrecovered losses resulting from hurricane and flood damage to their homes, structures, and personal belongings. In these final disbursements, the leagues involved agreed to prioritize the grant sizes based on applicants' losses that have not been recovered by insurance or government payouts. The basic formula: for every $20,000 in unrecovered losses, each applicant will receive at least $2,000 in grant dollars.

Bosack said one lesson learned after 2005's storm season was that it took too long to begin collecting money and then getting it to the victims. The key piece now: an online disaster relief platform that can be linked to from any credit union's website. Because many funds are collected by state-level foundations before being funneled to the NCUF, under the online program, state leagues will be notified of funds raised from within their state. Individual donors will receive an acknowledgement and will be provided with a receipt for a tax deduction. The website for donations is www.ncufdisasterrelief.coop, but it will likely be branded through a cooperative credit union campaign as the Disaster Fundraising Action Center.

HOW NCUF HURRICANE RELIEF WAS DISBURSED

Un-recovered Total Individual Total

Losses Applicants Grant Caps Grants

< $20,000 77 $2,000 $147,984*

> $20,000 42 $4,000 $168,000

< $40,000

> $40,000 32 $6,000 $192,000

< $60,000

> $60,000 26 $8,000 $208,000

< $80,000

> $80,000 21 $10,000 $210,000

< $100,000

> $100,000 28 $12,000 $312,000

Grand Totals 226 $1,261,984

* 7 applicants showed less than $2,000 in uncovered losses. Those 7 grants totaled $7,984, leaving the total grants under the cap.

SOURCE: NCUF

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