- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Americans' charitable giving since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has topped $1 billion and is expected to grow with ongoing benefits, including a star-studded rock concert scheduled for Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Almost half of the $1.04 billion pledged for the relief effort has gone to the American Red Cross, which has raised $452 million, the biweekly Chronicle of Philanthropy newspaper reported this week.
The nation's swift response giving $700 million in three weeks "is what's best about America we move fast and we've always been the most generous," said Philanthropy Roundtable President Adam Meyerson.
But if money coming in hasn't been a problem, its distribution has, according to other media reports.
A New York Post article this week said that 90 percent of the Sept. 11 charitable dollars were "still sitting idle" weeks after the attacks. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article estimated that only 10 percent to 15 percent of the funds had been spent.
Bill O'Reilly, host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News, has interviewed at least two widows who said they have received little aid. "We'll be watching" the money, pledged an outraged Mr. O'Reilly, whose show is based in New York.
Americans should be patient with this process, which is more complicated than any other domestic-relief effort, counseled some philanthropy observers.
It's important that money be distributed wisely as well as efficiently, said Sara Engelhardt, president of the Foundation Center in New York, which is tracking Sept. 11 donations in its Philanthropy News Digest.
Distribution shouldn't be a problem since "most of the donations are going to the groups who have the best experience in terms of getting the money out," she said, singling out the Red Cross and backers of the September 11th Fund as "pros" in this area.
Many donations are pledges that aren't in yet, she said. As for cash on hand, it likely either has been spent on families or rescue efforts, or been put into managed accounts for emerging needs, she said.
The public should realize that when they give money to relief efforts, it doesn't always go for payments to the victims' families, said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group in Bethesda.
"There are all kinds of other programs going on counseling, vocational training, job assistance," he said. "Also, if you are talking about intermediate and longer-term needs, we have some time to give it out intelligently."
Still, the unprecedented relief effort has shown a need for faster reporting and accountability mechanisms, said Mr. Borochoff. Existing measures review charitable activities from year to year, he said, but with Sept. 11 funds, "it's not like we can say, well what did they do last year?"
Spokesmen say the Red Cross and Salvation Army have spent an estimated $135 million on rescue and recovery efforts related to the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington and Somerset County, Pa.
It will distribute another $100 million to victims' families.
Around $27 million has been given to 1,775 families, Red Cross spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg said yesterday.
The checks, which average around $12,000, are for food, housing, utilities, transportation and funerals.
The September 11th Fund, created by the United Way of New York and New York Community Trust, has received $170 million in overall pledges and $150 million from the Sept. 21 all-star telethon. It has distributed $16 million in emergency grants to nonprofit groups.
Safe Horizon, a group that assists victims of crime and abuse, received the largest amount $7.5 million. It has given checks up to $1,500 to 8,125 families or individuals who have lost loved ones or had their jobs or homes destroyed in the attacks, said Scott Millstein, an official with Safe Horizon.
Millions of dollars more are expected to be raised this weekend in three marathon concerts: On Saturday, stars such as Paul McCartney, Elton John and Eric Clapton are slated to perform in New York. On Sunday, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks & Dunn and others will perform in Nashville, Tenn., while Michael Jackson, 'NSync, Mariah Carey and others belt it out at RFK Stadium.

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