FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

DONOR

1. Why does the Society need an ADFD?
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a non-profit, charitable organization recognized by the IRS. The Society is not a government agency, and does not receive funds from the government or Department of the Navy. The Society is able to provide services and programs because of people like you who make charitable donations so that Shipmates and fellow Marines have a lifeline to grab onto when facing a personal or family financial crisis. In the early days, Sailors and Marines “passed the hat” to help shipmates and their families. Life at sea was harsh in those early years. In 1904, 36 officers and enlisted men lost their lives when the USS Missouri’s 12-inch gun turret blew up, and a deadly boiler explosion in 1905 ended the lives of many aboard the USS Bennington. The number of widows and orphans left without any means of support was great and the “pass the hat” system was not consistent or effective across the entire Navy and Marine Corps, so, in 1904, the Society was formed. Remember, there was no Service Members Group Life Insurance or Dependent’s Indemnity Compensation. The Society was there for those widows and orphans, and has continued to be there for Sailors, Marines and their families for 112 years. And the Society will be here for you and your family – when and if you need us.
2. Why is the ADFD separate from the Combined Federal Campaign?
In 1957, President Eisenhower established a uniform fund-raising program within the Federal Government which has evolved into the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). This solved the problem of hundreds of charities all trying to separately solicit donations from federal workers and service members.  However, President Eisenhower’s Executive Order, and follow-on implementing directives, carved out and excluded fundraising “conducted by members of the armed forces among their own members” from the CFC. Therefore, the four military aid societies (Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, and Coast Guard Mutual Aid) do not participate in the Combined Federal Campaign. Instead, each military service conducts an active duty fund drive annually in March to benefit their military aid society.
3. What other sources of donations support the Society?
Approximately 60% of contributions come from the annual active duty and retiree fund drives. The Society also receives contributions from Navy and Marine Corps veterans, business owners, corporations and other patriotic citizens. Additionally, many donors choose to donate through their estate with end-of-life gifts to the Society.
4. What percentage of my donation supports Sailors and Marines?
As a non-profit, volunteer service organization, we use both financial and non-financial resources to identify solutions to service members’ needs. We help clients improve personal financial skills and encourage individual financial responsibility. We also provide many other services and programs. About 88% of your donated dollar supports interest-free loans and grants, as well as the visiting nurse services, junior sea bags for families with newborns and other Society programs and services. About 8% of your dollar supports the management and general expenses to operate the Society, and the remaining 4% of your dollar supports the fundraising efforts of the Society, including the materials to support the ADFD. For the past 3 years, the Society’s total annual expenditures have been between $69 and $71 million. That includes grants and interest-free loans, of which about 98% are repaid. Our visiting nurse services are free to the client, but not to the Society, as are all junior sea bags for newborns which are free to the client, but not to the Society. A better question you might have is: How does the Society keep its overhead costs so low? The Society has about 220 employees, including 54 registered nurses. It’s the more than 4,000 highly-skilled and well-trained volunteers who deliver the vast majority of our programs and services that make such a big difference in containing our cost to operate. The Society makes every effort to ensure we are good stewards of your donated dollars. Here’s the other side of the equation: The Society’s total annual revenue has been between $58 and $61 million over the past 3 years. Yes, loan repayments are continuously coming into the Society, but they never equal the amount of loans being made during any given month or year. And donations, including those from the ADFD, also come in monthly, but they have only averaged around $18 million per year in recent years. To meet the financial assistance need for Marines and Sailors, the Society has withdrawn nearly $10 million (roughly 10%) from its Reserve Fund each year for the past three years. I would also encourage you to take a look at how the Society is rated by the major charity rating organizations like Charity Navigator – (4 stars for past 3 consecutive years) and Guide Star (gold level participant for past 3 consecutive years).
5. Why do we fill out contribution/allotment forms?
Allotments account for about 80% of the donations made during the Active Duty Fund Drive, and are the most effective means of support for the Society. Regular monthly donations by allotment have proven, over the years, to be the main engine which supports the Society’s programs. The ADFD contribution/allotment forms are used to start military pay allotments, and are also used to record cash and credit card donations. The 3rd page of the form is the donor’s receipt for tax-filing purposes. Donors who choose to give online are encouraged to submit a contribution/allotment form, or a copy of their online donation receipt, to their Key Person for record keeping purposes and to help the Key Person determine the amount of contributions made from a unit/command. Every Key Person wants to do a good job. The contribution/allotment form is a means of documenting their efforts, and ensure that each command gets credit for donations made by its members.
6. Why is my SSN required to start an allotment to NMCRS?
The Government requires that requests to start/stop a military pay allotment require an SSN to ensure the action is taken in the correct pay account. USN and USMC are making every effort to revise pay and personnel systems to support the use of the DOD ID for USN and EDIPI for SMC – in lieu of the SSN. This year, the USMC can use the EDIPI or SSN to start NMCRS allotments and the ADFD contribution/allotment form has been revised accordingly. However, the USN military pay system still requires the use of the SSN. Eventually, the USN military pay system will be capable of using the DOD ID in lieu of the SSN. Cash, check and credit card donations do not require the donor’s SSN.
7. Can I use my credit or debit card to make a donation?
Yes, one-time and recurring charge card donations can be made at any time on the Society’s website www.nmcrs.org.  Charge card donations made during the ADFD should use the ADFD donation page, so that they are credited to the command’s/unit’s funds raised. A 2% to 5% transaction fee is charged to the Society to process those donations, so you should consider that when choosing to donate using your charge card instead of making an allotment through your military pay. 100% of your military allotment goes directly to the Society, at no additional cost to you or the Society.
8. Can I use my credit or debit card to make a donation at ADFD events?
The Society has investigated this option and determined that it would be cost prohibitive to procure card-readers to support ADFD events throughout the Fleet and Force. Additionally, the 2% to 5% transaction fee reduces the value of each donation and increase the Society’s administrative and overhead costs. This is especially significant when considering the type of donations generally associated with events, which tend to be smaller than allotments or credit card donations made through the ADFD website.
9. Why does NMCRS need donations when most financial assistance is provided as loans and is repaid?
In 2015, NMCRS assisted Sailors and Marines with interest-free loans and outright grants amounting to $45.8 million. However, loan repayments during the same period totaled only $41.1 million, resulting in a $4.7M shortfall. In fact, in 2015, after all expenses and programs were funded, NMCRS expenses exceeded revenue by $9.7 million. The banking industry, which is in the business of providing personal loans, covers their costs through interest charged on those loans – NMCRS never charges interest on loans to Marines and Sailors. The 2016 ADFD is crucial because NMCRS has experienced a shortfall of nearly $10 million each year for the past three years and that is not sustainable over the long term.
10. Do donated dollars stay locally to help our Sailors and Marines?
The Society provides assistance around the globe, 24/7, without regard to military service, pay grade, or duty station. It can be stated, without reservation, that more financial assistance was provided to local Navy and Marine Corps service members and their families in any given year than was raised during the previous year’s ADFD.  In fact, to meet the need for financial assistance by Marines and Sailors, the Society has withdrawn nearly $10 million from its Reserve Fund each year for the past three years. Your donated dollars make a difference to those in need!
11. I purchased a $5 coupon at the NEX/MCX. Does that count towards the ADFD?
All proceeds from the annual NEX/MCX Coupon Sales benefit NMCRS. Each NEX/MCX store tracks their coupon sales and those totals are added to the area’s ADFD at the end of the fund drive. However, purchasing a NEX/MCX coupon is not considered a donation because the customer receives a benefit for their purchase – namely, the discount on items purchased during the 3-day sale
12. NMCRS didn’t help me when I needed it, why should I donate?
Every request for assistance is reviewed and determined on an individual basis. Our volunteer caseworkers are well-trained and operate from a single, well-defined policy manual. If you think you are not being treated fairly by a Society caseworker, ask to speak with the NMCRS Director. Additionally, every client has the option to request a “command appeal” from his or her command or unit leader. And every “command appeal” is reviewed by an officer of the Society at our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Our denial rate is less than 9% – sometimes we can’t provide financial assistance because the request is outside of our policy guidelines, and sometimes because the request would exacerbate the service member’s financial situation rather than help or alleviate the problem.  Make us your first stop – it’s our mission to help you solve financial problems.
13. If I donate to NMCRS, will it make me more likely to be approved for NMCRS assistance if I need it?
The Society does not have knowledge of who does, or does not, contribute during the ADFD. All active duty and retired Sailors and Marines – and their dependents, are eligible for NMCRS financial assistance. Each request for assistance is considered individually and determined based on the client’s need.
14. Are reservists eligible for financial assistance?
Some reservists are eligible for NMCRS financial assistance.  Specifically, those who are on active duty for special work (ADSW), active-presidential recall, mobilized, independent augmentees, and those who are serving on active duty for more than 30 days. They are also eligible for 30 days after their orders expire, as long as the need is related to active duty service. If you are a reservist and in need of financial assistance, visit one of our offices. Sometimes the Society may not be able to provide an interest- free loan or grant, but our caseworkers also have a wealth of experience and knowledge about other organizations which may be able to provide assistance and help. Keep in mind, every reservist is eligible for our free budget counseling and financial education – and that may be the best start to a person’s financial well-being.

ACTIVE DUTY KEY PERSON/COORDINATOR

1. What is the 2017 ADFD Goal?
As stated in SECNAVINST 5340.7, the purpose of the ADFD is “(1) To increase the awareness of Navy and Marine Corps personnel about the availability of financial assistance and other support services administered by the Society, and (2) To obtain the funds essential for the Society to continue to provide assistance.” The primary fundraising procedure used during the ADFD is meaningful personal contact of 100% of service members by designated key persons. In December, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society voted to recommend to the Secretary of the Navy that the dollar goal for the 2017 ADFD be $12.5 million.
2. If I am a commanding officer, how can I gage if my unit is conducting a successful fund drive?
You want to be sure that each member of your command has meaningful contact with a member of your Active Duty Fund Drive organization, usually a Key Person, who provides information and education about the Society’s programs, and offers each member of your command an opportunity to voluntarily participate in the fund drive. During the fund drive, you should request to be briefed weekly on the progress of your command/unit’s fund drive and, if possible, in the presence of the subordinate and/or tenant elements of your command.
3. What level of contributions and participation would be considered a successful fund drive?

The two best measures of how well a unit is doing are the per capita contribution (total contributions divided by total military on board), and percent participation (number of contributors divided by total military on board). Using 2015 as a yardstick, here are average and better-than-average levels of per capita contributions and percent participation:

  Average Per Capita Contribution $25 Percentage Participation 12%
Good $35 20%
Excellent $45 30%
Outstanding $55 40%
4. Can civilians be solicited, and can they donate to NMCRS through their government pay?
DoD regulations prohibit active duty service members from soliciting contributions from non-active duty personnel, to include military retirees, civilian employees and government contractors. However, voluntary cash, check or credit card donations to the ADFD from civilians may be accepted and should be included in the ADFD totals. Civilian donors should be thanked and provided a contribution form as their receipt. Civilians cannot make allotments to NMCRS from their government pay accounts unless they are retired military, in which case they may make allotments to NMCRS through their retired pay account.
5. Can retirees contribute to NMCRS through an allotment from their retired pay?
Retirees, like civilians, should not be solicited during the ADFD. However, retirees like all civilians, may voluntarily choose to make cash, check or credit card donations to the ADFD and their donations should be counted in the ADFD totals. USN and USMC retirees are solicited through the SECNAV’s annual direct mail campaign and are encouraged to establish monthly allotments to NMCRS from their military retired pay. Retirees can also use the ADFD contribution/allotment form to start an allotment from their military retired pay. Retiree contribution/allotment forms cannot be processed by PSD/IPAC and should be provided directly to the NMCRS Director who will forward the forms to NMCRS Retiree allotments should not be counted in the ADFD totals.
6. Why can’t Marines use MOL?
The USMC did have the option to use MOL for contributing to NMCRS for three years. Upon evaluation, it was determined that MOL did not afford Marines the best opportunity to learn about NMCRS programs and services through one-on-one personal contact, and, further, that contributions to NMCRS had fallen off sharply. The NMCRS Board of Directors recommended, and the Commandant of the USMC directed that MOL not be used for NMCRS donations.