Is the Post-Marathon-Bombing One Fund a Worthwhile Charity?
May 6, 2013 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm a Bostonian and many of us helped after the marathon bombings, but I'm wondering what are the best resources to find out exactly how helpful The One Fund really is?

There are shirts, shirts, and more shirts. There are bracelets. All of these benefit the One Fund.

But I want to know about the fund and Ken Feinberg, guy who's running it.

I know there were concerns about the way he ran the 9/11 and the BP Oil spill funds.

What are some of the best, most transparent resources that can give proud Bostonians (and others) an idea of whether the One Fund for Boston is the best place to give our help?

How can a person discover the criteria they're using for determining who gets what? Are businesses in the area being compensated? Do they need to be? How is it decided who was injured and what those injuries are "worth?"

How much of the proceeds will directly help victims? I can't find anything in the news but general puff pieces, and I don't want to be a skeptic; I just want to know my money is actually needed and being used to help people.
posted by kinetic to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Various Globe articles have written extensively about the One Fund, this being one of the more recent.

If you're concerned, I recommend you go to the community meeting tomorrow to hear from the mouths that be, as it were.

I will say, Feinberg's job is rather thankless. There's no good way to do something like this.

But I will say he, and the officials involved, really do seem to be trying to get money directly into the hands of those affected as quickly as possible so it's not just sitting around for years.
posted by zizzle at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It would not have been possible for Feinberg to administer the 9/11 or BP funds in a way that didn't draw criticism. Making tough choices will inevitably piss people off.

Most independent legal professionals (including this Boston lawyer) couldn't imagine anyone better to handle this job.
posted by ewiar at 12:07 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not in a position to do independent research, so I am trusting the Boston office of the law firm for whom I work (I'm in SF), which designated the One Fund as the charitable entity they recommend to all firm members who were looking to make a donation. It might seem like I'm just following the crowd until you realize how exacting lawyers can be with this sort of thing. In my experience, we're more likely to start a new fund that we know we can oversee than to trust almost anyone else.
posted by janey47 at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2013

If you want to know about the criteria Feinberg uses, he was interviewed fairly recently on NPR. I am pretty sure the show I most recently heard him on was Here & Now. In fact, I found a link to the program I heard, although I don't see an audio link on that page, yet. If it helps, too, this show is produced by WBUR Boston.
posted by Slothrop at 2:04 PM on May 6, 2013

Duh! Audio link is the crazy wave graph at the top of the page!
posted by Slothrop at 2:05 PM on May 6, 2013

CharityNavigator has some comments about it, including this:

"We generally recommend that donors not support brand new charities in a time of crisis, but we recognize that many donors will want to support this fund (as evident by the fact that it raised >$4 million within the first 24 hours of its existence). Hopefully, the caliber of the leaders who have created the fund, in combination with the media scrutiny it is sure to receive, will help ensure that the fund does as it promises it will do."
posted by yclipse at 2:47 PM on May 6, 2013

There is information on the criteria used by the 9/11 fund on its website. The BP Claims Fund also has a website.

It's probably far too early for The One Fund to have any but the vaguest idea how they'll choose to distribute monies.

It is important to understand the role of a trustee (or the more specialized one of [Special] Master). It is a formal process with a great deal of scrutiny and responsibility, tempered by thick books of case law. As noted, a thankless task, because you'd like to think it's solely about giving people stuff/money, but in fact it's just as much about denying that same thing to someone else. As Feinberg has himself stated, it's something akin to playing God, or at least can seem that way.

Feinberg's prior experience even before 9/11 seemed to predestine him for this role -- the pre-eminent trustee/master of our time. I can't imagine anyone who's thought about these questions more than he has. He understands his role extremely well, and both the whys and the wherefores as well as the hows. It's a horrible thing to have to specialize in, and an enormous psychological burden.

I know he took no pay for the VCF, but I don't know if that's always the case. That's incredible, considering it's essentially 80-hour workweeks and little privacy.
posted by dhartung at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2013

I just want to know my money is actually needed and being used to help people.

As a former Cantabrigian, if I were in your position I would look to donate those funds to other local organizations. Some of them will aim to meet the same needs as One Fund, and others, I suspect, will see reduced donations because people are making a choice to support One Fund instead of those other local organizations. This strategy addresses the issue of limited information based on how early One Fund is, as pointed out by CharityNavigator via yclipse and by dhartung.
posted by whatzit at 3:27 AM on May 7, 2013

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