Red Cross outraises other charities for Sandy relief

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Karen Frantz

A number of prominent charities helping with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts have collectively raised about $400 million, with the American Red Cross’ donations making up nearly half that amount, according to self-reported data collected by the New York state attorney general.

AG Eric Schneiderman disclosed the figures last Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to monitor charities engaged in Sandy relief in the name of transparency. In November, he sent out letters to a number of nonprofits requesting information about their activities and expenditures.

“The generosity of the public and the hard work of charities in response to Hurricane Sandy is inspiring,” he said in a statement. “It is essential that nonprofit organizations operate in the most transparent way possible.”

According to Schneiderman’s office, 88 charities have responded to the AG’s survey to date. The data has been compiled and put on the Charities Bureau’s website at charitiesnys.com/fundraising_and_spending.jsp.

The American Red Cross raised $188 million in donations and pledges, according to its self report. The other top four groups reporting the most in donations and pledges include the Robin Hood Foundation, with $67 million; The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, with $45 million; the Empire State Relief Fund, with $15.4 million; and The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory, with $14.3 million.

The five groups collectively raised $330 million for hurricane relief, with the remaining 83 organizations that responded to the survey raising $77 million. A small portion of the money is reported twice, however, with some organizations giving grants to other organizations, Schneiderman said.

Of the top five groups, all but the American Red Cross stated unequivocally that all donations received in response to Superstorm Sandy will be used solely for hurricane relief. The Red Cross said after its emergency relief part of its work is complete, it will use remaining donations to meet the long-term needs of the affected communities, saying it is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to determine how best to meet those needs.

All groups except the Salvation Army said some of the money they raised has or will go to other organizations for relief efforts.

Schneiderman’s office said the Charities Bureau will continue to gather information from charity groups about their fund-raising and spending, which it will put online.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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