In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York State is keeping an eye on the many fundraising efforts launched in the name of helping victims of the superstorm.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said his office has sent letters to 75 nonprofits requesting information on their fundraising and relief activities related to Hurricane Sandy.
He said the Attorney General's Charities Bureau will compile this information and report it online in an effort to promote transparency and donor confidence, and to ensure that funds raised for Sandy relief are properly used,
"Our office commends all of the charities, and their volunteers and donors, who have come to the assistance of New Yorkers after Hurricane Sandy," said Schneiderman. "In light of the importance of the recovery efforts, and the enormous amount of money raised in such a short period of time, it is critical that donors know where their money is going, and that funds are spent responsibly. In the name of transparency and accountability, we must ensure that funds raised for Hurricane Sandy relief are used for that purpose."
The letter sent to charities, the full text of which is below, asks for certain basic information, including:
- The amount raised and spent to date for Hurricane Sandy relief;
- Whether donations will be used solely for Hurricane Sandy relief;
- The services provided to date to those affected by Hurricane Sandy;
- Whether the charity is providing funding to other organizations, or making direct financial grants to individuals, families or businesses;
- What the charity plans to do with any surplus funds.
Naomi Adler, president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam, said she supports effort of the Attorney General's Office.
"I am a firm believer in transparent fundraising and reporting, especially when a major event triggers “new” funds for a newly identified group of people or organizations," said Adler. "Our local Westchester Disaster Relief fund is not listed ... but all of the details about our fundraising efforts, for disasters or for our regular community service work, once they are approved and accepted by our board, are available through our website at www.uwwp.org."
Adler, however, said she hopes that charities will not be forced to generate volumes more paperwork than they are already required to produce.
"As the Attorney General is already tasked by law to ensure that charities here are engaging in legitimate work as well as accounting for everything they raise, it makes sense for his office to oversee these new efforts, however it is my hope that the questions asked will not be unduly burdensome." Adler said. "Charities in New York State are heavily regulated – much more than private businesses - so we already spend a great deal of time accounting for our work and the funds raised. It is always important for the public to know that they can trust those who are raising funds on behalf of others and I applaud him for the extra effort in this regard so that more people donate at this important time. However it is also important to remember that there are thousands of charities that do business in New York State and only a few of them violate the public trust and misuse funds."
Information obtained from the responses will be made available on the Attorney General's website. In addition to promoting transparency, this information will also assist relief organizations in coordinating their delivery of services, Schneiderman said.
The 75 organizations that were sent a letter from the Attorney General’s office are:
- AARP Foundation
- Acupuncturists Without Borders
- Afya Foundation
- All Hands Volunteers
- American Humane Association
- American Red Cross
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.
- Best Friends Animal Society
- B’nai B’rith International
- Breezy Point Hurricane Sandy Relief
- Brooklyn Recovery Fund
- Brother's Brother Foundation
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York
- Catholic Charities Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, Inc.
- Center for Disaster Philanthropy
- Children's Hunger Fund
- Church World Service
- City Harvest
- Convoy of Hope
- Direct Relief International
- Disaster Chaplaincy Services
- Emergency Children's Help Organization
- Empire State Relief Fund
- Episcopal Relief & Development
- Feed the Children
- Food Bank for New York City
- Gleaning For The World
- Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc.
- Habitat for Humanity International
- Heart to Heart International
- Hispanic Federation
- Hope for the Warriors
- Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation
- ICNA Relief
- International Rescue Committee
- Islamic Relief USA
- Jewish Disaster Response Corps
- Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc.
- Liberty Street Relief Fund
- MAP International
- Matthew 25 Ministries
- Modest Needs Foundation
- Movement for Peace
- National Firefighters Endowment
- National Urban League
- New York Cares
- New York Communities for Change
- Occupy Sandy
- Operation Blessing International
- Rebuilding Together
- Rebuilding Together NYC
- Red Hook Initiative
- Robert R. McCormick Foundation
- Robin Hood Foundation
- Samaritan's Purse
- Save the Children Federation Inc.
- ShelterBox USA
- Staten Island Strong
- Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation
- Team Rubicon
- The Humane Society of the United States
- The Jewish Federations of North America, Inc.
- The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City
- The New York City Coalition Against Hunger
- The Salvation Army
- UJA-Federation of New York
- United Methodist Committee on Relief
- United Way of Long Island
- United Way of New York City
- Waves For Water
- We Care NYC
- World Vision International
Schneiderman said additional organizations are expected to be contacted by his office.
The Office of the Attorney General is responsible for overseeing charitable activities and fundraising in New York. The Office’s Charities Bureau has established a dedicated Hurricane Sandy e-mail address, and any complaints regarding charitable activities relating to Hurricane Sandy should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org