Pledges near $1 billion to funds aiding victims

Nonprofits seek methods for disbursing money

War On Terrorism

The Nation

October 10, 2001|By NEWSDAY

NEW YORK - Pledges to the 140 or so funds collecting money for Sept. 11 terrorism victims are nearing $1 billion, which experts say far outstrips charitable giving for any other single disaster.

The nonprofit community is grappling with how to disburse the money.

"There's been a vast upswelling of resources and very little coordination," said Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School. "It has to be pulled together. If it isn't, all of this might be wasted or never spent."

New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer met privately last week with Vartan Gregorian, president of the philanthropic Carnegie Corp., to seek his advice, said Spitzer's spokesman, Darren Dopp.

The topic of the meeting was, "How can we ... bring the charities together, focus them and make sure duplication doesn't occur," Dopp said.

Security for families sought

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said last week that he would like enough money to ensure financial security for the families of those killed.

Giuliani's office established the Twin Towers Fund, which has collected $17 million for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters.

Many other funds have been established specifically for police officers and firefighters.

Spitzer wants to make sure that families of deliverymen, window washers and others who might have been working at the World Trade Center when the attack occurred are secure, Dopp said.

Other have championed that goal.

"A lot of charities recognize this as a particularly unique, generous moment," said Rikki Abzug, a professor of nonprofit management at New School University's Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy.

"Helping, in a lot of people's minds, is rebuilding the entire fabric of society."

The September 11th Fund was set up by the United Way and the New York Community Trust hours after the attacks. Since then, it has received about $150 million in pledges, about $70 million of which has been collected.

Telethon raises funds

A sister fund raised by a star-studded televised special, the September 11th Telethon Fund, received a million pledges. The dollar amount of the pledges is not known but is thought to exceed $150 million.

The Red Cross has raised more than $211 million and the Salvation Army, $21 million.

Some of that money has been disbursed. The Red Cross has set aside $100 million of its money for emergency checks to assist families of the missing and dead. The average check is about $12,874, the agency said.

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