Boston Marathon Bombing - How to Help
April 18, 2013
Planning to make a donation to support the victims of the Boston marathon bombing? Before you do, watch this short interview with our President & CEO, Ken Berger, which includes important advice for how to make sure your money gets to the victims. Below the video we offer information on charities collecting donations as well as some additional tips.
Charities that have been Rated by Charity Navigator
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
- The four time 4-star Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund has created the Boston Marathon Relief Fund "to aid the recovery from this homeland terrorist attack, collecting donations that will directly assist victims of the Boston bombings." Their website notes that "assistance will start with the most critically injured and expand as we receive donations for this fund."
- To contribute to this effort, they're instructing donors to visit the America's Fund website (a program of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund).
Funds Unrated by Charity Navigator
We list these unrated appeals to support the Boston Marathon Bombing victims, with the information we have been able to obtain about each, to help inform potential donors. However, we caution that gifts to these funds carry more risk than gifts to a well-established, fully vetted charity.
- This fundraising appeal promises that “all proceeds will be donated completely to programs working with victims of the attacks. We are consulting with the Mayor's office, the hospitals that cared for the patients, and other responder teams to assess the most pertinent needs and to deliver funding directly to those impacted”
- TUGG is a 501 c 3 public charity, but it is too small yet for Charity Navigator to rate.
- In 2011, TUGG spent $84k on fundraising and nothing on administrative fees or program fees (this is the category that charities show their spending on their charitable mission).
The One Fund
- This fundraising effort was established on April 16th by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino “to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013.”
- Kenneth Feinberg, who has overseen funds for victims of 9/11, the BP oil spill and mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and at Virginia Tech, will oversee The One Fund.
- The group has applied for nonprofit status, but does not yet have it. Thenotice about the fund’s creation does properly note that “although the Fund cannot guarantee that the IRS will make a determination that the organization qualifies as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, if approval is received within the expected time frame, the determination will be retroactive to the date of the Fund’s formation.” Readers of this blog know that the IRS hands out nonprofit status like it is giving away candy so it is highly likely that the fund’s nonprofit status will be approved.
- We’ve seen similar efforts after other disasters, including Superstorm Sandy in which the Governor of NJ and his wife started a fund. At the time, it too did not have nonprofit status (it does now). It has been the subject of some criticism – which Governor Christie has responded to.
- We generally recommend that donors not support brand new charities in a time of crisis, but we recognize that many donors will want to support this fund (as evident by the fact that it raised >$4 million within the first 24 hours of its existence). Hopefully, the caliber of the leaders who have created the fund, in combination with the media scrutiny it is sure to receive, will help ensure that the fund does as it promises it will do.
Here are some things to keep in mind in your efforts to support a Boston Marathon Bombing related fund:
- Collectively, we donors have the power to hold these funds accountable for distributing the funds to the victims in a timely manner! That’s not to say we don’t want the funds to take enough time to ensure the money is going to real victims in need, but we also don’t want years to pass before the funds are released.
- Be suspicious of online appeals – especially in light of the fact that 100s of new website URLS have popped up since the bombing that use keywords related to the tragedy.
- Remember, a victim isn't going to know your personal email address to send you a direct appeal for help. This happens after every tragedy and sadly, some people, giving from their heart, don’t stop to think before they click on an email and give their personal financial information.
- You may also want to consider other ways to help such as donating blood,signing up to get trained as a disaster volunteer, or volunteering your time or donating to a charity in your local community.
- See our other Tips for Giving in Times of Crisis.
- Follow our Blog where we will be posting updates to this philanthropic effort.