In the week since we launched the Ref Union Cares initiative, we’ve loaned out about two-thirds of our available funds from within the Ref Union treasury. While we didn't ask the specifics of how the loans will used, referees have been very open and honest about their needs. A couple are using it for rent. Another is using it for utilities and other minor expenses until his unemployment check comes in. One official is using the loan towards an online education course, which is absolutely awesome. We’re happy to help!
That said, it will be relatively soon before our treasury is tapped out. The timing of the pandemic couldn’t be worse in this regard. As you guys know, we usually start collecting annual Union dues in March. Had we had those at our disposal, we would have had several more thousand dollars available for officials to utilize.
And thus, we launch this GoFundMe as Phase 2 of the Ref Union Cares initiative.
This is a different kind of GoFundMe campaign. We are NOT asking for straight up donations. We are asking for contributions towards furthering our loan program. Meaning that whatever money you volunteer to pitch into this program is going to be paid back to you. You are simply making that money available temporarily to referees going through a tough stretch that may need a loan. Once they pay it back to us either directly or through their work at our tournaments, I will return the money to its donor.
Again, the money you pitch in would be guaranteed (minus the 2.9% transaction fee, which is unfortunately unavoidable). I’m still being careful about who I approve for the loans. The timeline to getting your money back will be approximately 6-8 weeks after games reconvene— so don't pledge anything that you will be in a hurry to get back. And to keep this completely on the up-and-up, you are welcome to call me first. We’ll note the size of your contribution on paper/on the record; thereafter please put your full name on your GoFundMe donation.
If you give anonymously, I will consider it a straight-up donation, and thank you for it.
I think this is a program that every high school unit, small college conference, or major referee organization (especially those that host camps) could emulate and initiate. It costs next-to-nothing, takes relatively little time to set up, and if the right precautions are taken, has minimal risks. In my 10 years of assigning, I've only been screwed over financially by two officials. Ironically, I have been screwed over by a whole lot more assignors.
If you’re fortunate not to be affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and work stoppage, this is a cool way for you to help out your colleagues. We hope you pitch in and share it with all your referee friends. And if there is anything else I can do for you, please get in touch.