The State Attorney General has issued a report about donor intent and how money is being distributed from the Sandy Hook Community Fund.
Attorney General George Jepson has found that the Foundation did not act contrary to donor intent in allocating a majority of the money to the families most closely affected by the tragedy while leaving some to be used for broader community needs. Jepson said in his report that the United Way and Newtown Sayings Bank have consistently represented that the Fund is a multipurpose fund intended “to provide support” to “the families” and “the community”.
While broad Jepson said the intent gives the Foundation significant discretion to determine appropriate uses for the Fund for both purposes.
United Way of Western Connecticut Executive Director Kim Morgan says they now consider this issue to be resolved. Morgan says they hope the Attorney General's findings will also satisfy the interests of Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and others who may have had questions regarding this issue.
Jepson's report said that money from special events, general purpose correspondence, corporate matching and Crowdwise plus credit card payments represent 84-percent of the nearly $12 million fund. He says the Foundation’s decision to retain 34-percent, or $4-million, of the Fund for the community falls within the stated intent of the fund.
Morgan says without further delay, it is time for the Foundation to determine how best to allocate the remainder of the donated funds.
The Foundation reported that gifts over $25 each were acknowledged in accordance with the internal Revenue Service requirement that gifts of $250 or more be acknowledged in writing by the recipient charity, and that volunteer groups sent postcard acknowledgments to many donors who gave less than $250.
A spreadsheet from Newtown Savings Bank contains 18,141 entries. The United Way maintained every envelope, note, or letter that accompanied any donation, regardless of the amount, and each piece of correspondence was reviewed individually, approximately 20,000 notes, letters, emails and envelopes. As part of this review, it was determined that thousands of letters had no dollar amount referenced, and it was often impossible to determine Whether these letters had in fact contained a gift.
Of the approximately 20,000 pieces of paper, approximately 1,373 cards, notes, or emails were identified as containing these expressions which could be interpreted as intent to benefit only the victim's families or the families of the 26 Victims. Of the 1,373 cards and notes that contained such an expression, 404 included a reference to the dollar amount of the enclosed donation. The cumulative total for those 404 gifts was $361,153.79.
Larger organizations contacted United Way prior to fundraising. These organizations and United Way entered into agreements which detailed the terms and conditions under which the fundraising would be conducted and directed that any promotional materials would state that the Fund Was created to provide support services to the families and community affected by this devastating event. This special event money represents 10% of the $11.7 million.
A total of $4,832,461.99 of the $8 million, or 41% of the $11.7 million, specifically referenced the
community or the Fund.