Charitable giving trends in the wake of 9/11 full of good lessons and bad
One charity, for example, raised $700,000 for a giant memorial quilt that never materialized. An examination of tax filings revealed the charity's founder used donations to fund a personal $200 per week car allowance, rent reimbursement and a $45,000 payment for an unreported loan.
Another charity collected $200,000 promising to build a "9/11 Garden of Forgiveness" at the World Trade Center site. There is no garden. Tax records show the founder paid himself a $126,530 salary and spent $3,563 on "dining expenses."
"There are those (charities) that spent huge sums on themselves, those that cannot account for the money they received, those that have few results to show for their spending and those that have yet to file required income tax returns," wrote David B. Caruso of The Associated Press. "Yet many of the charities continue to raise money in the name of Sept. 11."
Officials in Arizona and New York have launched investigations into some of the charities indicated in The Associated Press analysis, the Huffington Post reported. In the meantime, other 9/11 charities — most of which conduct themselves ethically — have experienced some "9/11 fatigue" when it comes to raising money for projects. Jennifer Adams, chief executive of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center in downtown Manhattan, told The Wall Street Journal she has heard potential donors remark, "Aren't we over that, aren't we done with that?"
Groups like hers hope to capitalize on the 10-year-anniversary to rally donors around their missions.
"If you're not doing OK this year, next year is going to be sort of bleak," said Terry Sears, executive director of the non-profit Tuesday's Children.
Industry experts told The Wall Street Journal it will likely take another decade "to get to the point where Americans wake up on Sept. 11 and know instinctively that it's a day of service."
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