Why Support ICSA

Dear Friend, We are grateful for your appreciation of ICSA’s mission of providing information, education, and help to those adversely affected by or interested in cultic and other high-control groups and relationships. 

Please help us continue our mission by becoming and remaining a member. 

We need you to stand with us as we continue to help others. 

Your support for ICSA’s work is more vital than ever. Please allow us to explain why. 

In the early 1980s, most of the people who contacted International Cultic Studies Association (then known as American Family Foundation) for information or assistance were parents whose child had joined a cult. Typically, their child was 19 or 20 years old and joined one of five groups that were well known to workers in this field. Although some experienced prolonged grief, most were able to work toward a happy resolution, and professionals within ICSA’s network often helped with their child’s recovery process. Grateful parents supported ICSA generously. Some have contributed to the organization for more than 30 years. We deeply appreciate their support! 

Today, most of the people contacting ICSA are former members of a wide variety of groups (more than 1000). At least a quarter of these former members were born or raised in their group (“second generation adults” or “SGAs” or "MGAs" - multi-generational former members). Most former members who come to us, and especially the SGAs and MGAs, experienced profound distress related to their cult experience. Moreover, when they most need help, they are usually least able to afford to contribute financially to ICSA.  And, sadly, they are often reluctant to seek out or accept help.

In short, ICSA’s mission of helping victims is more challenging than ever. Former members, especially SGAs and MGAs, often suffer from complex traumas that require special expertise. Today’s families tend to need support that is focused on conflict resolution, on managing a tough situation, not necessarily “exit,” which, however desirable in some cases, sometimes is not practical in the short term. 

That is why in recent years ICSA has tried to expand and train our network of mental health professionals (MHPs) knowledgeable about cultic dynamics. Unfortunately, the majority of cult-aware MHPs, most of whom are former group members, are located in only a handful of metropolitan areas. 

One of ICSA’s long-range goals, then, is to train MHPs in geographic areas that currently lack expertise.  ICSA's book, Cult Recovery: A Clinician's Guide to Working With Former  Members and Families, was produced to advance that goal.

The contributors to the clinical book project are volunteers, as are the speakers at ICSA’s conferences, the facilitators of its workshops and local meetings, the authors of articles published in ICSA’s periodicals, and those who help run our events. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, ICSA is a volunteer organization with a small number of paid support staff/consultants. 

Because ICSA is so dependent upon volunteers and because it cannot remain dependent on large grants permanently, the organization needs to expand its membership each year. ICSA needs a large pool of members to uphold the organization financially and member-volunteers to ensure the continued high quality of ICSA’s publications, conferences, workshops, and educational outreach. 

More than four decades of fund-raising in this field has taught us that the public at large, though sympathizing with those harmed by cultic groups, does not view this field as an area to which they will direct even a tiny portion of their charitable giving. 

This is so, even though 65% of U.S. households give to charity and the average household annual charitable contribution is $2213, with a median of $870. [We don’t have statistics on charitable giving for other countries.] 

That is why it is vital that those affected by psychologically manipulative groups make ICSA part of their ongoing charitable giving. 

In other words, if not you, who? 

Even if you no longer need ICSA’s help, or even if your interest in this subject has waned, please remain a member. We need you. Please make a generous donation to “help us help others.” 

Thank you! 

The ICSA Community