N.Y.’s AG Gets, Publishes Sandy Fundraising Info

The New York attorney general wants nonprofits that fundraised for Superstorm Sandy relief to provide documentation as to what they did the with cash. Some 88 charities had responded as of Dec. 31, and the information was posted on the Bureau’s website. The organizations raised a collective $400 million.

The state’s Charities Bureau sent surveys on Nov. 27 to 75 nonprofits requesting data on the amount money raised and spent for relief efforts in New York. There were several other questions. An additional 17 letters have been sent, totaling 92.

The Bureau is awaiting responses from Habitat for Humanity, National Urban League, Make the Road New York, and Team Rubicon. Deputy Press Secretary Michelle Hook said that they anticipate receiving a response from these organizations but are not sure when that will happen. A spokeswoman for Team Rubicon said the organization had responded to the survey. The other three organizations did not immediately respond to inquiries.

“The generosity of the public and the hard work of charities in response to Hurricane Sandy is inspiring. As we continue to monitor charitable activities related to Sandy relief, it is essential that nonprofit organizations operate in the most transparent way possible,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman via a prepared statement.

The five organizations that raised the most money were:

  • The 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.

All five of these organizations pledged that all donations will be used solely for the purpose of Sandy Relief, both in the short and long-term. The American Red Cross (ARC), for instance, indicated that all remaining donations would be used to “meet the long-term needs of the affected communities.” Relief efforts across 11 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico cost an estimated $110 million by the end of 2012. Officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have pegged the price of storm recovery at $60 billion.

Anne Marie Borrego, director of media relations at ARC, said that the organization has raised even more money since it first responded to the survey on Dec. 11. The charity releases new estimates on its website every week, and the figure is currently $220 million. As for the cost of the relief efforts, Borrego said they are going to stick with their initial estimate of $110 million.

The Robin Hood Foundation garnered national headlines for being the lead beneficiary of the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden. The charity received $16 million of its $67 million in contributions from pledges made before the concert, according to its response to the survey. Initial proceeds from the show total $50 million, coming from ticket sales, sponsorships, telephone and web donations, and concert-related merchandise.

To date, the Robin Hood Foundation has approved grants and disbursements totaling more than $14.8 million to more than 140 community organizations in the tri-state area.

The Salvation Army (SA), USA Eastern Territory, has spent approximately $2 million on Sandy relief, including an effort to serve two million meals to those affected by the storm. In addition, 1.5 million drinks, more than 10,000 food boxes and 10,000 blankets have been distributed by he organization.

Lt. Col. Jim Reynolds, the Eastern Territory Secretary for Business Administration, said that updated fundraising numbers from their relief efforts wouldn’t be known until early next week. “We are just coming off the holidays, and our Christmas effort is a big part of our campaign,” he explained.

Reynolds also indicated that SA’s efforts have moved from initial response (delivering food and supplies, clean-up, etc.) to long-term recovery. He mentioned that several distribution centers have already opened in New Jersey, where individual can drop-off supplies for those affected by the storm. Asked how long they plan to continue their efforts, Reynolds responded “We will serve as long as we have resources.”

The Charities Bureau plans to ask for updated information from all 92 charities in the coming months. You can view the current info by visiting http://www.charitiesnys.com/fundraising_and_spending.jsp