Budget lines explained

Financial support for EMM missionaries is based on a cost-of-living philosophy, not salary. This cost-of-living budget includes 
  • allowances
  • benefits and
  • coverage of other expenses
in alignment with the financial support package agreed upon by the worker, the MST and EMM. Allowances are designed to cover personal costs only. Since there are no savings built into the allowances, missionary budgets include funds for tenure/resettlement and retirement.

Taxable budget lines, which include allowances, vacation, children’s education, rent, utilities, taxes paid on the field, domestic services, and house furnishings, are totaled and forwarded to the worker in monthly/quarterly U.S. dollar allotments.

Note: For these taxable lines in the field budget, the worker absorbs the difference of the value of the dollar against the value of the local currency and local inflation/ deflation. This requires the worker to budget wisely for small variables in rent and/or utility costs. In the case of a 10% hyperinflation/hyperdeflation and/or a 10% increase/ decrease in the value of the dollar for taxable support over a six month period, EMM and the MST will renegotiate the budget.

Each budget is divided into two sections:
  • Field costs
  • Stateside costs
 and further divided into four sub-sections:
    • Living expenses liable for taxes
    • Living expenses not liable for taxes
    • Travel, training, and retreats
    • Miscellaneous
The field costs section of the budget is prepared in the currency of the country where the missionary will be serving since items in this portion of the budget are paid in local currency.

The stateside costs section lists costs that EMM incurs on behalf of the missionary. This section is prepared in dollars since these expenses are paid stateside.

Budget lines explained

A description of expenses covered by specific budget lines appears below. Some lines are required in a missionary budget. Other lines can be negotiated and fixed at a certain amount.


Field costs

Living expenses (liable for taxes)

Allowances, monthly and vacation: This is the discretionary income that an EMM worker receives. It is used for food, clothing, laundry, domestic services, household supplies, toys, cameras, hobbies, nursery school, across-the-counter medicines, personal care items, books, computers, children’s toys, email subscriptions, magazines, personal phone calls and travel, recreation, vacation, etc.

Children’s education: registration, tuition, textbooks, music lessons, room and board, transportation at a distance, and other related costs

Rent: rent paid for worker housing

Utilities: heating fuel, electricity, basic phone service charges, water, sewer, and refuse services (Long distance personal and/or program related calls are not included.)

Domestic worker: The wages of a domestic worker are normally paid from the worker's monthly allowances. However, if the worker’s supervisor asks both spouses to have assignments outside the home, EMM will consider assisting with the cost of a domestic worker.

House furnishings: purchase of all household furniture and equipment and maintenance thereof

Taxes, paid locally: for taxes that may be imposed by the government in the country of service

Healthcare (not liable for taxes)

Medical: the projected healthcare costs while on assignment

Travel, training, and retreat  (not liable for taxes)

Travel: travel related to the worker’s assignment and not included in the program budget (Personal travel is paid from monthly support and annual vacation allowances.)

Language study: tuition, educational materials, and room and board cost for language study

In-service training: cost of on-location training for the assignment

Retreat: cost of travel, portion of resource person’s honorarium, room and board for attending the EMM retreat in the country of service and/or in the region

Miscellaneous costs (not liable for taxes)

Worker-related: cost of passports, resident/work permits, visas, ID cards, driver’s license, etc.

General: costs incurred by EMM on behalf of the worker, e.g., envelopes, paper, company computer and printer, stamps, office supplies, photocopies, resource materials (books, magazines, etc.), non-personal telephone calls not covered elsewhere (Personal phone calls are paid out of the worker's monthly and vacation allowances.)



Stateside costs

Living expenses (liable for taxes)

Allowances during home leave: allowances the worker receives during home leave

Allowances for children in college: allowances given to workers’ children who are full-time college students while their parents are on assignment

Children’s education and music lessons: partial tuition for children attending Anabaptist/Mennonite elementary or high schools (Partial costs for music/instrumental lessons will be covered.)

Rent during home leave: cost of housing during home leave

Utilities during home leave: cost of electricity, water, refuse disposal, heating fuel, basic telephone charges, etc. during home leave

Outfitting and baggage allowances: an allowance that is used for transporting workers' personal effects from their homes to their assignment locations. The allowance is also used to purchase personal items that are not readily available in the country of service, such as a computer, for use while on assignment.

Completion of service return baggage allowance: assistance for returning the worker’s personal effects to the U.S.

Development assistance: assistance for costs incurred for raising worker support, e.g., development of newsletters, special event cards, paper, ink/toner, postage, software, printer, Internet access, computer rental, etc. (Development assistance funds are negotiated and fixed (up to $500 annually) in the worker budget. The worker is responsible to forward it to the MST to use as needed. January 2013)

Educational loan payment assistance: assistance with payment of worker’s eligible educational loans

Tenure and resettlement: Since EMM uses a cost-of-living philosophy to support their workers, it is assumed that the worker will not have funds left over from their monthly support and annual vacation allowances to save. As a result, EMM opens a savings account for them and begins to make deposits into this account after they have served for a year. Deposits continue until they complete service with EMM. At that time, the funds are available to the worker for a down payment on a house, the purchase of a vehicle, support while looking for a job, etc.

Pennsylvania income tax: For taxes imposed by PA for a worker considered to be a PA resident or is deemed to be "domiciled" in PA for tax purposes.  Also for income earned while working within the geographical boundaries of PA.

Living expenses (not liable for taxes)

Adult education: Occasionally, an EMM supervisor recommends that a worker on home leave pursue further education as a resource for their continued work or retooling at the end of their EMM assignment. After a worker has served for six continuous years, she or he is eligible for home leave study if planning to return for at least an additional two-year term with EMM.

Healthcare coverage: The sum of the field healthcare line and the stateside healthcare line is equal to the average costs of workers in the missionary's age range.

Pension/retirement benefit: If the worker has a two-year or greater commitment, EMM opens a Mennonite Retirement Trust account in their name. A regular deposit is made into the account as long as the worker is under EMM’s appointment.

Social Security equalization: deposit to a retirement account for workers serving in low cost countries since their Social Security benefit at retirement will be significantly less than a worker serving in a high cost country

Disability: contribution to EMM's self-funded disability fund

Survivorship: contribution to EMM's self-funded survivorship fund

Travel, training, retreat (not liable for taxes)

International travel (adults and children): the cost of traveling to and from the assignment

Travel for eligible home leave events: mileage during home leave that is eligible for reimbursement

Launch event: a training event for new appointees serving cross-culturally

Pre-service training: special preparation for workers requested by Human Resources, the regional representative, or the strategic coach, such as the Summer Institute on Islam (SIIP) for those serving in Islamic settings

Oasis Retreat: a one-week retreat for first-term workers and for workers on home leave between terms

Reentry Retreat: retreat for workers completing their assignment

Miscellaneous (not liable for taxes)

Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes: EMM pays Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) (both the employee and the employer portions) for the worker while on assignment.

Publicity cards: cards used for inviting prayer and financial support

Worker-related: costs related to processing and preparing a worker for an overseas assignment – passport photos and fees, international driver’s license, workers’ compensation while on home leave, birth certificates, visas, work permits, etc. (These costs are included in the first-term budget only. In succeeding terms these costs are included in the field budget.)

Ministry-related and support services (program administration and overhead)

A worker budget also includes an annual amount that helps to cover a small portion of the cost of the expenses listed below. The amount for a single worker is less than the amount for a couple, which is less than the amount for a family.

Financial services: receiving and receipting contributions, field remittances, payments, monthly reports, Worker’s Compensation, cost-of- living indexes used for calculating support allowances, auditors’ reports, etc.

Personnel support: administrative visits, books and magazines, communication from EMM (postage, copies, phone, Email), crisis intervention, media production, Missionary Support Team development/training, well-being care, commissioning service, pre-appointment processing, publicity/promotion, speakers, etc.

If you have any questions related to the formation of a MST budget, please feel free to check with the MST Coach.

Note: A missionary’s eligibility for compensation and benefits as described above is dependent on the missionary’s appointment category and support option as described in the agency information manual.

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Cara Kilheffer,
Feb 18, 2016, 6:40 AM