If a church desires to support a refugee, they should first consult with the Foursquare immigration attorney and the national administrative specialist office for important information.
Is our church allowed to sponsor a refugee? Yes, the church may sponsor refugees after speaking with the Foursquare immigration attorney and the national administrative specialist.
Who may decide that the church will support a refugee? The church council along with the senior pastor must decide that they will support a refugee and determine that the church has the financial resources to do so for the time commitment specified.
What is a benevolence fund? A benevolence fund is a fund established by the church council. The church council establishes the fund with a clear description of the utilization of those funds. The church council receives gifts to the benevolence fund from donors. The church council decides how those funds will be disbursed in accordance with the fund description.
Can donors restrict gifts to the church general or benevolence fund for a specific person? No, the gift must be intended for a fund and not as a gift to an individual. The church must have full control over the gift and not be restricted by a verbal or written designation by the donor.
Can the church establish a refugee fund? Funds established by the church are allowed if they benefit a large class of people. The church will not serve enough refugees to meet the definition of a large class of people therefore the church should utilize the benevolence fund to assist refugees.
Should we have a written benevolence policy? Yes. It is wise to have a written policy in place to determine the need and distribute funds equitably. In the event of an audit, a policy will provide evidence that the program is consistent with your exempt purpose.
Does Foursquare have a benevolence policy? Yes. Foursquare news and resources section offers a sample policy that can be customized by your church. A sample policy and application can be found here.
What documentation should we require to provide support from our benevolence fund? The church council should document in their council minutes the decision to support a refugee that specifies the amount and length of support and how this will be funded.
In exchange for this support, may the church require that the individual work for the church either part-time or full-time? Individuals receiving benevolence funds may not be asked or required to perform work in exchange for the support. The church committed to supporting the refugee for humanitarian reasons and not for the purpose of employing the individual.
If the refugee is granted status to work in the United States, may the refugee be employed by the church? Yes, they may, but they may no longer receive benevolence. The refugee must be paid as an employee and all benevolence must cease.
What tax document should be provided to the refugee following the close of the year? No tax document should be given as the individual for the benevolence received since no work was performed in exchange for the benevolence.
How much money can the church commit to support a refugee(s)? Please consult with the national administrative specialist on the amount of funds that can be utilized for this purpose.