A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Emergency Assistance Foundation, Inc. (EAF) is the oldest and largest standalone charity designed solely to administer disaster and hardship relief funds around the world, thereby providing grants to individuals experiencing financial hardship. Founded in 2011, EAF provides these grants to individuals both nationally and internationally.
When businesses and organizations want to support their own during difficult times, EAF allows these organizations to establish Disaster and Hardship Relief Funds that can award grants to individuals in need. In 2020 alone, EAF was responsible for the donor service and administration of more than 300 funds worldwide and awarded more than $100 million in grants.
Since the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in both the number of companies establishing funds and number of individuals applying for hardship grants. To meet these growing needs, EAF’s internal team nearly tripled in size. “Due to COVID, a lot of companies are paying more attention and really are interested in trying to help their own,” says Doug Stockham, president and co-founder of EAF.
The organization reported applications during the pandemic were 20x higher than what they normally receive during a typical disaster event. With such great increase in demand, EAF was faced with a challenge to find a way to process and distribute payments to grantees as rapidly as possible. “When people experience a hardship or disaster, they need help very quickly,” says Stockham. “In some cases, we would have 20,000 applications a day. So, we had to make 20,000 payments a day.”
In response to COVID-19, EAF set up an Immediate Response Program (IRP) and began using Deluxe Payment Exchange eChecks to streamline their payment processes so that grantees receive their relief dollars faster than the traditional paper checks.
“People can apply on their mobile device, get awarded and then get an email on their mobile device that gives them money. The grantee has been extremely pleased with it, and it’s reduced our issues,” says Stockham. “When you mail checks to people, there are a lot of potential complications — the mail doesn’t get there or it’s late — it just takes time. There are a lot fewer issues we’ve experienced using the eChecks. It’s greatly improved our processes.”
We could go from making a few hundred grants one week to 20,000 the next week. If it wasn’t for DPX, we would not have been able to scale to meet the challenges that people faced.
Stockham says the most impactful part of the Deluxe Payment Exchange platform has been the ability to scale very quickly and automate outgoing payments without disrupting their current processes: “We could go from making a few hundred grants one week to 20,000 the next week. If it wasn’t for DPX, we would not have been able to scale to meet the challenges that people faced.”
EAF now provides financial assistance within a few days after an Immediate Response Program is launched. “We were very excited about working with Deluxe. They’ve been a great partner,” says Stockham. “[DPX] gives us a chance to send money electronically right to the grantee’s mobile device — no matter where they are. It works so much better than anything we’ve ever experienced. We’ve used it a lot and we just think it’s phenomenal.”
The rate of applications coming in during the pandemic were 20x higher than what EAF normally receives during a typical disaster event.
In 2020 alone, EAF awarded more than $100 million in grants to individuals in need.