The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Breaking News

May 5, 2013

Experts warn about donation drives after bombing

BOSTON — At least two online campaigns aimed to help David Henneberry buy a new boat after his was shot up while a Boston Marathon bombing suspect hid inside. And a handful of drives have cropped up to help the family of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old killed in the attack.

Neither recipient had anything to do with setting up those fundraisers.

That didn’t stop the sites from raising tens of thousands of dollars, while campaigns on similar “crowdfunding” sites have raised millions combined for other victims.

That’s on top of the $28 million given to The One Fund, a more traditional relief fund established by top state officials.

Such giving is the reliable flipside to tragic events, with the Internet bringing heightened levels of immediacy, publicity and generosity. But charity watchdog groups warn not all giving opportunities are equal, with online drives more prone to confusion, scams or misuse of money.

An advantage to crowdfunding sites, which essentially provide a platform for individuals to set up their own fundraising efforts, is the speed at which they can start soliciting donations. For instance, the site GoFundMe had marathon victim relief campaigns going by 10 a.m. the day after the bombings. It now hosts more than 40 individual marathon-related campaigns that have raised $2.7 million.

But that ease of setting up a fund drive means less scrutiny of the fundraisers using the sites, which may be known only by a picture and a short testimonial.

“There may be little oversight going in, in terms of how the money is actually spent, and whether it’s going to the appropriate parties,” said Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Examples of fraud after tragedy are plentiful. After Hurricane Katrina the FBI found 4,000 bogus websites that stole donors’ money and personal identification.

And it raises questions when the beneficiary of an online campaign doesn’t even know about it.

Henneberry, of Watertown, said he had “nothing, nothing, nothing” to do with any drives to raise money for a new boat.

A spokesman for the Martin family said it has approved only The Richard Family Fund, which has its own site.

The lack of an initial connection with a fundraiser doesn’t mean the money won’t eventually get to the intended recipient. A spokesman for Crowdtilt, where a campaign raised more than $50,000 for Henneberry, said they sent him the payment Friday.

And bombing victims say the sites offer a convenient way for people to directly give to their specific needs, and can be tremendously encouraging.

“My sisters and mother would read the comments (from donors) to me while I was in the hospital, and it really helped me in my recovery there,” said Brittany Loring, the beneficiary of a campaign on the GiveForward site. Loring required three operations after her left leg was badly injured by shrapnel from the first blast.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office is checking out fundraisers and has yet to find fraud, said spokesman Brad Puffer. But it’s promoting vigilance.

“We simply encourage people to do their homework and give wisely,” Puffer said,

Ken Berger of the watchdog group Charity Navigator prefers well-established charities or credibly backed efforts like The One Fund, founded by the governor of Massachusetts and mayor of Boston.

Such groups leave long paper trials and do robust vetting before they distribute money, he said. The tradeoff is the process takes weeks, which can be a lot less satisfying than an instant Internet donation, he said.

Berger added, “The faster you go, the greater the risk.”

Dan Borochoff, of Charity Watch, said the same emotions that spur remarkable giving are used to take advantage of people. Ultimately, Borochoff said, people are free to throw their money away, but they shouldn’t make it easy for the people trying to take it.

“Ignorant bliss is what they are going for,” he said. “If you really care, you’re going to be more responsible.”

Brad Damphousse, chief of executive of GoFundMe, said his site takes significant steps to verify campaign organizers, including checking the linked Facebook account and affirming account payment information.

He added there’s a natural social safeguard, since strangers usually won’t donate to a site until they see dollars from an organizer’s closest family and friends first.

“The earliest donors are essentially vouching for the authenticity of a given campaign,” said Damphousse, whose company charges a fee of 5 percent of each donation.

Tom Teves, whose oldest son, Alex, was one of 12 killed during the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., said raising money is an irrelevancy to someone in the midst of grief. But he and other family members of mass murder victims are pushing a National Compassion Fund, which he described as similar to The One Fund, to increase equity and transparency for victims.

Having a primary entity collecting and distributing money transparently can simplify things for people going through the unthinkable.

“You don’t understand where you’re at,” Teves said. “You’re just trying to literally figure out how you are going to stand up and keep breathing.”

Erika and Leonardo Galvis, whose parents were badly injured in the marathon bombings, said they didn’t think to set up a campaign on GiveForward until days after the bombings, and then only after their parents had been through surgeries that pointed to a long recovery with large and uncertain costs.

It’s not easy to think in such practical terms amid the shock and disbelief over what happened, Erika said.

“It’s very hard to focus on the fund,” she said. “But we have to do it.”

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Toyota to boost SUV production at Indiana factory Toyota says it will spend $100 million to boost production of the Highlander SUV at its southwestern Indiana factory, with plans to add 300 workers in the next couple of years.

    August 22, 2014

  • 18 people rescued from flooded Indiana homes Northwestern Indiana police say firefighters used boats to rescue 18 people after flood waters from heavy overnight rains surrounded their homes.

    August 22, 2014

  • NWS -  HB0823 - Fire-Rozelle Johnson - JC 28a.jpg Lightning might have caused Anderson funeral home fire

    A lightning strike is suspected of starting a fire at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Services, Ind. 32 and Rangeline Road, early Friday morning.

    August 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Teams test out a new helmet, but does it work?

    Arkansas coach Bret Bielema proudly posted a message on Twitter last spring that featured the Razorbacks' new helmets — a futuristic design by Riddell called the SpeedFlex that is supposed to be the latest in head protection.

    August 22, 2014

  • Airline group forecasts uptick in Labor Day travel

    A trade group for the nation's big airlines predicts that air travel over the Labor Day weekend will rise 2 percent from the same holiday last year.

    August 22, 2014

  • Some US colleges calling students back from Israel

    Some U.S. colleges are pulling students from overseas study programs in Israel as the Gaza war rages, though the relative calm beyond the immediate battle areas is raising questions in some quarters about why they had to leave.

    August 21, 2014

  • Instant noodles: Friend or foe?

    Kim Min-koo has an easy reply to new American research that hits South Korea where it hurts — in the noodles. "There's no way any study is going to stop me from eating this," says Kim.

    August 21, 2014

  • Ohio diocese discourages ALS ice bucket challenge

    A Roman Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its 113 schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, saying the group's funding of embryonic stem cell research is "in direct conflict with Catholic teaching."

    August 21, 2014

  • Charter school to close after cheating revealed

    One of Indianapolis' oldest charter schools will close next month, after an investigation uncovered widespread cheating on its students' state standardized tests in 2013 and 2014.

    August 21, 2014

  • Severe thunderstorm watch until midnight

    The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for portions of central Indiana, including Madison County.

    August 21, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you think heroin is a significant problem in Madison County?

Yes, it has surpassed meth as the problem drug
Yes, but meth is still a bigger problem
No, this was an isolated case
Not sure
     View Results