Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7 a.m.
When all else (Congress) fails to raise monies for those devastated by Hurricane Sandy, it's rewarding to see ordinary citizens donate a little extra to the cause. And even more rewarding when that little extra amounts to nearly half a billion dollars.
A month ago, we reported
on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's campaign to apply transparency to charitable organizations. The mission was simple: non-profit groups collecting enormous sums of relief money would be accountable for their actions, ensuring that this relief money was only falling into the hands of Hurricane victims. In order to do so, Schneiderman shot out surveys to these subjects, demanding financial disclosure. Now, just weeks later, we're starting to see the results trickle in from this open-door policy.
Eighty-eight organizations responded to the AG Charities Bureau's requests. In total, the amounts disclosed equal give or take $407 million. Five charities alone made up about $330 million of this grand relief prize while eighty-three smaller charities patched up the remaining $77 million.
Although the relief package struggling to get passed in Congress clocks in at $60.4 billion, this is a damn fine place to start.
The five largest contributors are as follows: American Red Cross ($188 million); Robin Hood Foundation ($67 million); The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City ($45 million); Empire State Relief Fund ($15.4 million); and The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory ($14.3 million). You can find the rest of the charities helping out those in need and everything else finance-related here
. Also, keep in mind: these are the initial figures; the amount can only go up at this point.
Also, luckily, this $400 million seems to have been gathered with clean hands - as of now, there is no report of mishandling Hurricane Sandy relief funds in this transparency campaign. (Except that lady in the Bronx who was tying donations to Newtown families and Sandy victims to her PayPal account. She posed as an aunt of one of the young victims from that tragic day. So, if found guilty, she's just the worst human ever).
It goes without saying that during a time of doom and despair, profiteers come out of their holes to benefit. We see this unfortunate scamming all the time with every major catastrophe so, first and foremost, we need tools to publicly shame those involved. The same logic was used by the A.G. towards gas companies
- a handful of pumpers across New York State were subpoenaed for accusations of price-gauging during Hurricane Sandy, their addresses appearing on a site for all the Internet to see.
So cheers for some sort of Good Samaritan-ism. Those affected by the storm - now, more than two months later - definitely need it.