Attack donations squeeze other charities

Posted: Sunday, November 04, 2001

Over $1 billion has been raised to help the victims of the World Trade Center, the culmination of the most massive giving in the history of American charity, according to published reports.

But as more and more donations flow east, local nonprofit organizations are concerned that other charities may go wanting.

What the Sept.11 Fund pays for

In the first six weeks since the Sept. 11th Fund was set up for the victims of the World Trade Center terrorism, much has been accomplished. These figures were provided by United Way of America.

More than 12,000 checks were written to individuals to cover immediate cash needs.

Up to 10,000 meals per day were served at ground zero.

4,600 people received ongoing group crisis counseling.

2,000 adults and children (including 700 rescue workers) received disaster mental health services at the Family Assistance Center.

1,000 displaced workers received job placement assistance.

"It's a huge concern," said Marsha Riley, executive director of United Way of Southeast.

"We are not sure where we stand locally because we are right in the early stages of getting dollars back in to distribute to our 28 member agencies," she said. "It's too early for us to tell, but many of the agencies have called us and expressed their concern."

United Way of Southeast has a fund-raising goal of $550,000 this year, but the "mercury" on the thermometer that registers donations has not been rising very quickly, said Tammy Jablonski Murphy, executive director of Hospice and Home Care of Juneau.

Murphy did not have exact figures to show reduced donations to Hospice. "I can't say anything has fallen out of the sky that is way different," she said.

However, Murphy added, "We have noticed a drop in the Light Up a Life business campaign at Nugget Mall, which will get under way after Thanksgiving.

"In advance of that campaign, our board members contact businesses around town. The amounts of business donations are smaller than what we saw last year. Is that money going local? Are they tightening their belts?

"I think everybody is belt-tightening right now," Murphy said. "It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I think we may take some financial hits."

Lesley Thompson, executive director of the Tongass Alaska Girl Scouts Council, said, "I am concerned about what is going on back East. This has been on the minds of our fund-development committee because, as we grow, we need more and more funds."

The Salvation Army in Juneau hopes it can maintain the level of donations from 2000, said Maj. Larry Fankhauser, the commanding officer.

"We just re-started our Thanksgiving appeal, and are not far enough into it to tell" if donations are lessening, Fankhauser said. "But, based on what other Salvation Army units in Alaska have told us, we anticipate a downturn."

He didn't want to criticize donors to the Sept. 11th Fund in any way, he said, "but we would be satisfied in light of everything that is going on in the world if we can just match last year."

The Boys and Girls Club of Juneau is hearing from its parent club that things are not looking good for fund-raising, said Elizabeth Williams, unit manager.

"This club currently is a unit of the Southcentral club," Williams said. "But we have to go independent within two years, and we are beginning our fund-raising campaign. I know that the club in Anchorage has not been meeting its target goals."

That has her concerned for the future of the Juneau club.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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