Our relationship with Action by Churches Together (ACT)
PDA is an active member of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance. By working together with and through our ACT partners, PDA is able to extend its reach and work more quickly and efficiently to respond to human suffering.
Just before His crucifixion, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one”
(John 17: 20 – 22).
For this reason, it is always a great source of joy and delight when Christians and churches join together in the unity of the body of Jesus Christ. Our unity is an expression of love, and it is love that will change this world to make it a better place for all humanity.
The following questions and answers are intended to help lift up why membership in ACT is beneficial to PC(USA).
What is ACT Alliance?
ACT Alliance is the coordinating office that brings together a worldwide network of Protestant and Orthodox churches and their related agencies for long-term development and humanitarian assistance. It was formed in March 2010 by joining together the ministries of ACT International and ACT Development.
What was ACT International?
ACT International, a global ecumenical organization, was formed in 1995 as a result of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when churches and their related agencies around the world responded to the disaster through a mechanism that was ACT's precursor -- the then Church Action Aid. A key purpose ACT was to have an entity to ensure an appropriate standard of humanitarian assistance was provided to families adversely affected by disaster. ACT International and its members (as are current members of ACT Alliance) are signatories to the Code of Conduct in Disaster Relief and aim to uphold the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, known as the Sphere standards.
What was ACT Development?
While ACT International was working to coordinate ecumenical work in emergency relief; there was a need for a similar mechanism for collaboration once the immediate emergency was over. ACT Development was formed in 2006 as a means to address the then changing context of development work and sought to enhance collaboration and mutual accountability between churches working in the field of development and to increase the visibility of ecumenical work.
Why did ACT International and ACT Development merge?
The merger of ACT International and ACT Development provides the opportunity to better link emergency humanitarian assistance and sustainable development. When the emergency is over, and the funds gived for emergency response run out, churches continue to be present; they are the organization at the end of the street or village, which remains when all others have gone.
What is the benefit of ACT membership?
One of the primary benefits of ACT membership for PDA is that with other ACT members, relief work can be done on a cost shared basis. For example, when a disaster occurs in a country (e.g. earthquake, flood, famine,) the ACT Alliance:
- Performs a situation analysis and prepares one comprehensive needs assessment for the country.
- Vets and approves the beneficiary organizations that will provide the relief services in the affected country.
- Circulates the needs assessment and budget to the list of potential ACT donors each of which contributes as it wishes.
- Collects the funds from the ACT donors and disburses funds to the beneficiary organizations at the appropriate time(s.)
- Monitors the performance of the beneficiary organizations and shares the periodic and written and financial reports to all donors.
- Obtains one audit at the project completion and shares it with all donors.
Thus, the monitoring and supervisory costs incurred by ACT Alliance are much lower than if PDA and each other donor organization performed its own grant administration on relief projects.
What is the cost of ACT membership?
PDA supports the core budget of ACT with a contribution of approximately $100,000. This total includes the ACT membership and participation fee plus a voluntary contribution to help ACT fulfill it ministry of emergency response. These funds are taken from PDA’s portion of One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds that we budget for ecumenical support. PDA’s average annual total for ecumenical support is approximately four percent.
In addition, when we support an ACT appeal for disaster response, we contribute a 3% international coordination fee to support the ACT Alliance expenses related to each specific disaster response. PDA uses OGHS funds to cover such costs as well, so that designated disaster response funds may be used solely for disaster response needs and all contributions by PDA to ACT Alliance operations are derived from our One Great Hour of Sharing offerings.
Do any funds designated for disaster response go to ACT?
When appropriate, PDA supports ACT appeals for specific disaster situations. In those cases, designated funds may be used to meet the needs of disaster-affected families for that situation. An example of this is the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. A portion of the funds designated for Haiti were sent to support the work of ACT Alliance members in Haiti to respond with life-saving works. On the very day of the earthquake, January 12, 2010, nine ACT members were operating in Haiti and were able to begin relief efforts immediately. In the first month after the earthquake, the ACT Alliance reached more than 150,000 people with emergency relief supplies.
When an ACT appeal is issued, PDA has the right to indicate particular portions of the appeal where our funds will be used. An example is an appeal for flooding in Madagascar. PDA specified that its funds be used towards the portion of the appeal being provided by the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, (FJKM), a PC(USA) mission partner.
“Are PC(USA) funds used to support ACT advocacy efforts?”
Yes. The ACT Alliance engages in the ministry of responding to emergencies, fostering development, and issues of food security, advocacy, development effectiveness, capacity development, quality and accountability, and human rights. As a member of the ACT Alliance, the PC(USA) works with ACT on these concerns especially as it relates to responding to disaster situations. PDA uses a small portion of the funds it receives from the One Great Hour of Sharing to support its partnership with the ACT Alliance.
Since the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is received “…in response to Christ’s call to us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, minister to the suffering, and empower the poor and oppressed,” using these funds in this manner is appropriate. Disaster response funds are used solely in response to disasters.
What mechanisms are in place to ensure that all funds from donors are used according to the donor’s intended purpose?
PDA maintains detailed donor and accounting records to ensure that all funds are spent according to each donor request. The Advisory Committee of PDA reviews accounting reports at its semi-annual meetings to ensure that funds are spent according to specifics established for each appeal.