The Herald Bulletin

Morning 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
  • Indianapolis police officer kills ex-wife, self

    Authorities say an Indianapolis police officer shot and killed his estranged wife, also an officer, and then turned the gun on himself.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_homesickforprison.jpg Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3½ years

    An ex-con who spent most of his adult life behind bars on Thursday got what he said he wanted for robbing a suburban Chicago bank. The 74-year-old gets to go back to the place he called home — prison.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Utah [Duplicate] Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_obamalocalschools.jpg Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

    Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0107 Super WAL-MART 1 Wal-Mart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

    The world's largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraineprotests.jpg Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

    Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_target.jpg Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target's computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

     An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 3 protesters killed in attack on Ukrainian base

    The turmoil in Ukraine dominated the European landscape Thursday, as three protesters were killed in a clash in southern Ukraine, high-level talks were held in Geneva and Vladimir Putin weighed in on his neighbor's future for hours from Moscow.

    April 17, 2014

  • news_marathonsecurity.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
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

How well do you monitor your child's use of social media?

I do a good job
I check occasionally
Not well at all
     View Results