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Establishing A Rural Emergency Voucher System

Many rural communities may have at least a food bank but not a local organization to help residents pay for gas, utilities, or prescriptions in emergencies. The Emergency Voucher System offers rural communities a flexible tool for assisting their neighbors financially. Follow these four steps to set one up:

  1. Gather Parish Input to Identify Unmet Needs. Consult with the parish priests and secretaries in your diocese to ascertain whether there is a need for an emergency assistance tool. If the parish is not best situated to dispense the vouchers, research other partners, such as community action agencies or St. Vincent de Paul Societies.

  2. Allocate Funds. Budget the vouchers annually to provide parishes and partners with a predictable resource. Include line items for the emergency fund, fiscal staff time to process vouchers, and occasional postage and voucher printing. Designate funds as unrestricted to allow for unusual needs, from work boots to well pumps.

  3. Create Triplicate Voucher. Create the voucher tool to authorize and track payments. Three entities will need a copy of the voucher: the parish/partner, the agency, and the business. Triplicate works because many rural parishes and businesses do not have the technology to fax or email documents. See the reverse for a sample voucher form.

  4. Report Quarterly to Parishes and Partners. Maintain open communication with the parish/partner about the fund balance. Send quarterly reports detailing how much of the budget has been spent, in which communities, on what goods and services, and for how many clients.

To learn more about how the voucher process works, guidelines, and how your business can help support the voucher system, please visit the following links:



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