Help Our LE Staff Colleagues in Sudan via the FSN Emergency Relief Fund
A Message from U/S for Management John R. Bass:
As we pursue a whole-of-government effort to negotiate an end to the fighting among rival factions in Sudan and having suspended embassy operations following a successful evacuation of our U.S. direct hire staff, our thoughts naturally also turn to the needs of our Locally Employed Staff. The fighting is not limited to Khartoum, and civilians frequently are caught in the crossfire as two well-armed groups fight for control. Sadly, our LE Staff are no exception. Nevertheless, many LE Staff members in Sudan continue to work to protect USG property and personnel, often at great risk to themselves. And many of our colleagues have experienced property damage as a result of the fighting. We are living in an era of seemingly endless crises, natural and man-made, and the need is great. If you are looking for a way to provide direct support to our LE Staff colleagues in Sudan, the Foreign Service National (FSN) Emergency Relief Fund is a great way to do so. As a reminder, 100 percent of all contributions are allocated for disbursement directly to LE Staff in need, as the Fund is administered internally by the Department. Information about the Fund and how to contribute is included below.
The FSN Emergency Relief Fund is the Department’s official charitable mechanism for disaster assistance to LE Staff. Since 1994, the Fund has served as the immediate humanitarian resource for local employees of the Department of State and all other USG agencies under Chief of Mission authority. Funding for this program is not appropriated and is sustained solely by private contributions from the foreign affairs community. Contributions can be made by check, credit card, or through payroll deductions. All donations to the Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by Civil Service, Foreign Service, LE Staff and private sector individuals. In 2022, the Relief Fund has provided monetary assistance to local staff in Oman, the Philippines, Ukraine, Yemen, the Republic of Djibouti, South Africa, and Pakistan who incurred property loss due to war and natural disasters. Since its inception, more than $2 million has been disbursed to employees from each regional bureau, including personnel from other U.S. Government agencies under Chief of Mission authority to respond to natural disasters, civil unrest, war and targeted attacks.
History of the Fund
The Fund for Assistance to U.S. Government Employees at Overseas Posts was established by local employees in Embassy Santiago on April 27, 1983. Voluntary donations were given in support of their colleagues who were killed or injured in the April 18, 1983, bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Those funds were further augmented by a donation from Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired (DACOR). Following donations from the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), group contributions from overseas posts, employees of foreign affairs agencies, and private sector individuals in the U.S., $84,000, was distributed among the surviving family members of the local staff.
It was renamed in 1994 as the FSN Emergency Relief Fund. As awareness of the Fund has increased over the years, so has the number of incoming requests for financial assistance. Since 2004, more than $2 million in donations have been collected and distributed to local employees and their families in each of the Regional Bureaus. These disbursements were issued in response to tragic cases involving natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and floods; targeted attacks on those identified as working with the U.S. government; victims of mass riots and political unrest; and those injured in the performance of their duties. Although donations are received regularly, the Department issues requests for replenishment via ALDACs and Department Notices whenever there are large-scale natural disasters or an overwhelming number of cases that require immediate humanitarian relief.
The vast majority of donations have come in from LE Staff, Foreign Service officers, domestic and retired employees as well as senior Department officials.
Over the years, we have received numerous letters and photos from gracious employees who have rebuilt their lives, following the loss of a loved one who was employed by the overseas post, or their homes after a disaster destroyed personal property.
How You Can Help – Individual or Group Efforts
Unfortunately, in many countries that suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, civil unrest and other national calamities, there are few support systems or government assistance to cover losses.
All contributions to the Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by Civil Service, Foreign Service, LE Staff and private sector individuals. Donations can be made via the following:
- Secure on-line electronic donations can be made directly from your bank account or by credit/debit card to pay.gov.
- Checks made payable to the U.S. Department of State, designation for the FSN Emergency Relief Fund may be sent to the Department’s Gift Fund Coordinator’s Office.
- DOS, LE Staff, and overseas American employees of other federal agencies on payroll by the DOS can make contributions by payroll deduction.
- Cash Contributions in dollars or local currency can be made through the embassy/consulate cashier.
The collection process has expanded and now includes the option to make credit card donations online via pay.gov or dropping foreign currency in collection boxes in the Employee Service Center or the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) in HST (and other select branches). The SDFCU has partnered with the Department and covers the cost of converting the donated currency to U.S. dollars.
Various bureaus within the Department have partnered to host annual fundraising challenges, such as cook-off competitions, holiday parties, and Earth Day events. Additionally, our colleagues at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), both in Washington, DC and at our overseas missions, routinely collect donations throughout the year. All proceeds from these events directly benefit the Relief Fund. We encourage you and your colleagues to organize fundraising projects to assist with these efforts.
How To Donate:
1. Pay.gov (All Contributions)
Pay.gov may be used to make secure on-line electronic donations to the FSN Emergency Relief Fund. Payments can be made directly from your bank account or by credit/debit card. Follow the link below to the State Department’s donation page on the pay.gov site for detailed instructions.
2. Check Contributions
Please send checks to the Department’s Gift Fund Coordinator, Crystal Jobe, Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, EDCS, Rm. 1821, Washington, DC 20520. Make checks payable to the U.S. Department of State, with a notation that it is a donation for the FSN Emergency Relief Fund. Please include a return address or email where a letter of acknowledgment for tax deduction purposes may be sent.
3. Beneficiary or “In Lieu of” Requests
You may wish to consider designating the FSN Emergency Relief Fund as a beneficiary of your estate by including such instruction in your Last Will and Testament. Please consult your attorney or estate planner for specific requirements of your state of residency. You may also consider a group donation to the Fund for commemorative events, such as class reunions, weddings, retirement parties or in lieu of gifts in memory of Foreign Affairs Employees/EFMs.
4. CFC Questions
The FSN Emergency Relief Fund is not included in the Combined Federal Campaign, since maintaining the funds in the Department’s own Gift Fund account ensures the Gift Fund Coordinator may access them immediately. The Fund is managed by the office of Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Services (CGFS/EDCS). As this program is maintained within the Gift Fund portfolio and administered by EDCS staff, there are no overhead costs. Absent the encumbrance of administrative fees, 100% of all contributions are allocated for disbursement directly to LE Staff recipients. Additionally, EDCS provides donors with the Department’s IRS charitable deduction statement for your tax purposes.