Letter: Hoboken “rebuild” charity missing vital information

Whenever tragedies like Hurricane Sandy take place – the flurry of charities that pop up can be mind-numbing. And while people are kind and generally vulnerable during those times, and more than willing to donate, transparency is important.

While most people blindly donate – it seems that we need residents who are paying attention to the details (or lack thereof).

And some charities seem to be at the forefront of almost all Hoboken catastrophes (even tweeting about fundraisers while buildings continued to burn). While nice on paper, the interesting trend of their “eagerness” to be involved every time, should also be equal reason to ensure that everything is in order.

Hoboken Charities need more clarity after Hurricane Sandy

One resident sent Hoboken411 some straight-forward questions that MUST be answered by the “Rebuild” Hoboken charity, as well as any new charity group that pops up after a disaster:

  1. Who is on the board that manages this money? Will these names be listed on the website?
  2. Is it being overseen by a real financial group or accounting firm? Will this be listed on the website?
  3. Who will receive funds from this charity and what are the qualifications or requirements to be a recipient? Businesses? Homeowners? Renters? Who makes the final decision on the delegation of specific funds to a specific person, business, or organization? Is Tisha Creative exempt from receiving any of the funds – due to conflict of interest since they’re managing the marketing and receiving the money via PayPal?
  4. Is there an application process to request funds? When does it open? Where are the forms?
  5. Will the financials be made public? How often will they be updated?
  6. Are donations tax-deductible? Do 100% of donations go towards victims/applicants or are there administrative costs being covered? If so, how much and to whom? Can the public see those expenses and receipts?
  7. When this charity closes down will they liquidate and put the money back into the community and how so? (Some charities have stated they will give the money to the Red Cross. That is a national organization that has a reputation of red tape at the local and state level and more than 30% of their donations go towards salaries and administrative costs which is a reason for many people not to donate to them.)
  8. Transparency is critical because too many fake charities pop up after a tragedy has occurred for the sole reason of capitalizing on the the goodness of others who are eager to help.
  9. This is apparently a “partnership” with the City of Hoboken. Is that legal?

If you think this reader is being too harsh – just take a look at the number of fraud charges discovered after Hurricane Katrina. These are legitimate questions that any sensible person should ask – and has the right to have answered.

Stay sharp, Hoboken!