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Open Letter to Elected Officials Regarding Sandy Donations

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Joined: Mar 17, 2005
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Location: Staten Island

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:41 pm    Post subject: Open Letter to Elected Officials Regarding Sandy Donations
From Jan 18, 2013 to Jan 27, 2013 (included)
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To All Our Elected Officials,

We have reached the point that we seem to reach after every disaster. The point where the stories about the victims disappear from the newspapers and many of the major organizations that have collected hundreds of millions begin to fade from sight as well. The problem is that much of the money collected disappears with them.

Below is an article from the Philanthropy News Digest which contains details from a recent Daily News article (link below)

Sandy Donations May Not All Go to Storm Victims, Watchdog Group Warns
According to a disaster aid watchdog group, victims of Superstorm Sandy may not be receiving all the support intended for them, the New York Daily News reports.

The Washington, D.C.-based Disaster Accountability Project told the News that many nonprofit organizations were misleading donors about how the funds would be used by featuring photographs of damage from the storm and victims' stories in online fundraising efforts without specifying that donations will go to Sandy relief and recovery efforts. "It's impossible for the public to know where the money is going," said DAP executive director Ben Smilowitz.

According to a DAP survey of charities in the tri-state region, approximately $400 million has been raised for those affected by Sandy — an estimate that matches New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman's findings. Smilowitz believes, however, that the figure is closer to $550 million, as some groups are not classifying donations as Sandy-related, which means that some of the money intended for Sandy victims may end up funding relief efforts elsewhere. "It's not honest if you've raised that money with pictures and stories of Sandy survivors," said Smilowitz. Moreover, much of the money donated for Sandy relief will be used to fund longer-term projects, Smilowitz said, leaving some nonprofit bank accounts flush with cash earning interest. "Some groups put that money to the relief effort and some groups take the money for their general operations," he said.

Smilowitz also criticized the American Red Cross, which has come under fire in the past for not accounting for its disaster-relief spending in detail. "Any money that was donated for Sandy will go toward Sandy," said Sam Kille, Greater New York Regional spokesman for the Red Cross, which has raised about $235 million for Sandy relief efforts. The organization has spent about $110 million on food, supplies, and shelter for storm victims, Kille said, while the rest will go for rental assistance and to fund home repairs.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy CEO Bob Ottenhoff told the News he believed most of the money raised to help those affected by the storm would go to longer-term recovery efforts, but that more funds need to be raised to help rebuild devastated communities. "There's a surge of support immediately after the disaster, but the surge pretty much peters off after six or eight weeks," said Ottenhoff. "Yet the scope of the disaster still has a long way to go."

Trapasso, Clare. “Donations for Sandy Victims May Not Be Going Entirely to Victims and Recovery, Says Watchdog.” New York Daily News 1/11/13.

This is the same story over and over again. These major charities collected donations and gave the donors the impression that they were supporting Sandy relief. If you check you will see that most of these donations go into their general administration funds to be used at the discretion of their management.

If you notice now they are still advertising but now they are asking for donations for their “Disaster Related Programs” with “Sandy” mysteriously missing

The same thing happened after 9/11. They stated that hundreds of millions that they collected was going towards long term relief but that relief never came.

As a matter of fact we don’t even have a Red Cross Office on Staten Island.

So now here we are. Victims don’t have money to rebuild their houses or don’t even houses to rebuild and there are hundreds of millions collecting interest in the accounts of these charities.

After 9/11 at least there were Red Cross Recovery Grants but I have heard no mention of anything like that from any of these major charities.

Also I thought Catholic Charities was designated the long term recovery charity by the state.

If that is the case than what are these other charities spending the money on?

The victims as well as the donors have a right to know.

There is a very simple solution.

Have them account for how much they collected since Sandy hit.

Compare it to what they collected over the same period last year.

The difference would be a good indication as to what they collected for Sandy Relief.

Let them keep 10% or 15% for long term plans but make them spend the balance now because the victims need it now.

On Staten Island alone over 20% of the population is still in dire need.

Tiny local not for profits are doing tremendous work on shoe string budgets but it is not enough.

We need you to demand an audit by an outside accounting firm of all of these charities.

And we need you to bring this money back now where it belongs where it is needed.

Back to where the donors intended it to be.

Thank You in Advance

Dennis McKeon
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