2. Don’t give cash – use the form of giving that most directly meets the need and provides for maximum accountability. For instance, if a person needs a stove, give him the stove he wants instead of the cash to buy it. Or if, logistically, you can’t give him the stove, give him a gift card for the stove. The suggested way to have a check sent is to send it directly from your Group Fund account to the one who posted the need with the check payable to the vendor (i.e. landlord or utilities). These options leave a paper trail for accountability’s sake.
3. Once the need has been met, share the story so that many people can benefit from your experience.
4. Be careful of using peoples' stories of vulnerability to “pat yourselves on the back” or to use their power to sway or manipulate others. These stories and needs are entrusted to us and making them public can be a violation of the relationship and that trust. For recipients, it can feel scary enough that there is a random group of strangers talking through the intimate details of their lives and need. Do not exploit the stories and journeys and relationships you participate in, but find healthy and appropriate ways to celebrate and spread the vision.
Questions to Ask
As you consider looking at opportunities for sharing, the following are intended only to be guiding questions for you and your group to consider together as you move forward. Don’t feel like you have to have these questions all resolved before you start – some will take years of experimenting and learning to answer well
- What defines need?
- How do we know or verify that a person is in need?
- Do we provide cash (not recommended), goods (e.g., food and clothing), services (e.g., help get someone’s car fixed), or pay overdue bills directly to creditors (e.g., utilities, missed rent or mortgage payments)
- How often or how long do we help?
- Should people be responsible for trying to remedy their situations?
- If people take little or no interest in changing their circumstances, what, if any, is our obligation to provide assistance?
- If we identify issues in a person’s life that might have led to their current need, do we provide or even require counseling to deal with root causes (e.g. addiction treatment, job training, credit counseling, etc.)?
- Will we consider reimbursements to a group member who has already helped someone? Under what circumstances would this be appropriate?