The Problem with Disaster Relief Fundraising

This is always the issue with fund raising for disaster relief. Who actually GETS the money, when, and how?  Those questions are seldom asked, and honestly, if you don’t know the answer before you give, you could well be throwing your well intentioned money away.

If you’re one of thousands of Harvey-ravaged Houstonians who could use a handout from Houston Texan J.J. Watt’s hurricane relief fund, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. While the J.J. Watt Foundation raised a mindblowing $33 million in two weeks, a foundation spokesperson said there’s currently no long-term plan in place for how the money will be spent.

So it will be, what, sitting in some sort of account? Doubtless earning interest. But what’s to become of it all?

Let’s face it: most people in Houston (and elsewhere) love Watt, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when his initial goal of $200,000 was quickly surpassed. But his foundation, established in 2011, is a relatively modest outfit: According to IRS filings, the foundation is used to overseeing about $1.4 million a year, which goes to after-school programs primarily in Texas and in Watt’s home state of Wisconsin. The sudden infusion of such a large amount of money is far more than the nonprofit is used to handling.

Watt’s has been one of the most successful fundraising efforts in Harvey’s wake, and the All-Pro defensive end has rightly received accolades for wanting to help his community. But when the Houston Press asked how people could apply for funds, or how the funds would be used, we couldn’t get a clear response.

Again, in my opinion, the best way to give in times of disaster is through Baptist Disaster Relief. Your money goes directly to food and shelter and there are no overhead costs as is the case with the Red Cross.