With its 2014 fundraising campaign underway through April 18, NMCRS is once again relying on the generous donations that allow them to provide assistance and support to those experiencing financial difficulties resulting from deployments, separations, family emergencies or other hardships associated with the military lifestyle.
“While we do receive some corporate and private support, our biggest donors are the active and retired military community,” explained Maureen Farrell, director of the NMCRS office at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. “A lot of people think highly of our society and donate. We’re very lucky.”
Last year at Pax River, a total of 257 interest-free loans and 30 grants were awarded to clients seeking assistance for a total disbursement more than $196,000.
“People who donate often want to know if their dollars are staying local,” Farrell said. “Last year, we collected nearly $92,000 at Pax but disbursed over $100,000 more than that [here]; so I think it’s safe to say their dollars are being spent locally.”
Of all the funds distributed last year at Pax, 57 percent went to basic living expenses such as food, rent and utilities; while another 21 percent paid for gas, auto insurance, registrations and repairs.
“These are not frivolous loans,” Farrell said. “We’re not going to help people live above their means. We’re here to help those who have a true need. People can count on us being very careful with their money. We have to be.”
The sound fiscal practices NMCRS demonstrates in managing its donations are evidenced by the four-star rating it earned from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator.
“Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s coveted four-star rating puts it in a very select group of high-performing charities,” said Ken Berger, president and chief executive officer of Charity Navigator. “Out of the thousands of nonprofits Charity Navigator evaluates, only one out of four earns four stars — a rating that, now, with our new accountability and transparency metrics, demands even greater rigor, responsibility and commitment to openness. NMCRS supporters should feel confident that their hard-earned dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly when it acquires such a high rating.”
The fund drive should also help to increase visibility for NMCRS.
“It amazes me that some of our active-duty service members still don’t know we’re here,” Farrell said. “We want them to think of NMCRS first when they need financial assistance. We hate to see people with 14 percent interest on a loan for auto repair when we could’ve given them that loan for free.”
Farrell also wants potential donors to know that while they may have never needed the society, they work with someone who has.
“And people alleviated of financial pressure can do a better job,” she said. “Financial readiness equals operational readiness.”
Anyone wishing to donate to NMCRS can do so online at www.nmcrsfunddrive.org/paxriver; service members can donate via allotment. In order to specifically track Pax River donations, and to ensure command recognition, donors are encouraged to contact their command representative and complete a paper form as well. To locate your command rep, contact Farrell at 301-342-4739.
“If everyone gave just $5 per month, we could triple the fund drive from last year,” Farrell said. “We’ll make sure the dollars are well spent. They’ll go to the people who need them.”