How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

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By an edhat reader

Following the Thomas Fire last December and the Montecito Debris Flow/Mudslide this past January, a lot of small and large non-profits collected funds to help assist local victims.

Is there a way those of us who donated can see where the money went to help our local community? Is there a law that forces these non-profit organizations to show where the money is going or are they able to hold onto funds without informing their donors?

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a-1545422040 Dec 21, 2018 11:54 AM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

Because people you donate money to are always honest about where it goes, right? No need for this snarky answer. Most people who donate to big places like the Red Cross and the United Way assume it's going to good use. Check out https://www.charitynavigator.org/ to see where the money really goes.

a-1545422299 Dec 21, 2018 11:58 AM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

Not snarky at all, just saying you should know who you are donating to before you hand over your money. I don't think it's reasonable to demand non-profits to provide each donor with an itemized list after they've used the money.

CoastWatch Dec 21, 2018 05:51 PM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

... All I KNOW is that those poor Montecito homeowners get placed in the Bacarra-Ritz-Carlton anytime a rain of more than an inch is forthcoming... Valet parking and all :)

MountainMan4865 Dec 21, 2018 09:07 PM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

Tax returns for nonprofits are available online in various places. They usually lag a year behind, but you can look to see where their reported monies are going. Here's one you can look up that doesn't ask for money - https://foundationcenter.org/find-funding/990-finder You just need the name of the organization and the state it's operating out of... most likely California. Their financial should be readily available to anyone who requests them. Do your research.

oceandrew Dec 21, 2018 10:07 PM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

Have you contacted the non-profit you sent your money to for such an accounting? Common sense would dictate they'd be the best source for the information you seek.

Flicka Dec 22, 2018 09:27 AM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

There were people in Montecito highly impacted by the fire and debris flow who worked in "service jobs", not highly paid. I hope they got plenty of help from the non-profits taking donations. I didn't donate money but dug mud from around homes with Habit from Humanity, home owners were extremely grateful and thanked us profusely.

sbsunshine Dec 24, 2018 01:26 AM
How Are Non-Profits Helping Fire/Mudslide Victims?

I have a friend who attended a meeting where the Santa Barbara Foundation stated that they are sitting on a million dollars that they have not distributed from the Disaster (12 months post disaster). And, this non-profit as well as United Way do not overtly disclose when they are luring in unsuspecting donors that they DO NOT donate directly to individuals or families. In fact, it is widely known that organizations such as United Way misrepresented that donations would go to individual people stating that "if an individual loses their car, or work supplies, we will be there to provide new ones". This was all "marketing spin" as they supply ZERO directly to the families. And, they gave to other VOAD's...look up that organization...another organization like a United Way that distributes money to other businesses. No one is saying that Easy Lift who is a VOAD isn't a great organization who needed an allocation. They were there day and night to transport people and did an amazing job. United Way gave money to Red Cross even though Red Cross raised quite a bit of money (there were big "Thomas Fire Worst Fire In CA History Donate to Red Cross" national campaigns and an Allstate/Red Cross TV campaign about fires. Where did all that money go? How much does the SB Red Cross get from the National Red Cross? Why is it that the Red Cross Shelter manager told people she was from the Bay Area and had to drive down? Was there no one in Santa Barbara Red Cross that could run a shelter? Let's ask the really hard questions. Meanwhile it was Direct Relief who immediately offered help by getting much needed all terrain vehicles into the disaster zone and helping in other ways. It was Direct Relief that had N95 masks. Does anyone else think it is strange that the Red Cross has no disaster provisions like N95 masks when they are supposed to be a disaster-oriented organization? One of the core things that we all learned about Red Cross is that they are the embedded organization that is linked on the City. County and State levels for evacuation shelters. Legally, if a city calls for a mandatory evacuation they have to offer free shelters. The only resource they can go to is the Red Cross for setting those up. It is odd that if true and the SB Foundation is sitting on $1 Million that they have only designated toward "long term needs" that non-profits like the SB Bucket Brigade can't get wood chips donated for trail improvement or that they have to put equipment rentals on personal credit cards. No non-profit wants to "call out" other non-profits in town because it isn't "politically correct" or you will be "black listed from the "in crowd"...too tight a network...so everyone supports looking the other way....AND, donations for the disaster for United Way were supposed to stay in Santa Barbara....no one is tracking what this organization says verses what they did....they combined money with United Way Ventura....last time we all looked Ventura didn't lose one life and Ventura isn't still digging people out and looking for 2 loved ones. Why did they have to combine with Ventura? How much did they combine? What did they donate and to whom? Where is the LA Time Reporter or SB Independent Report digging into all this. Find the truth just like the movie Spotlight did....find the truth behind all these non-profits. Let's look. The volunteers helping to recover lost items could have used some high quality metal detectors or bonded professionals to help with organizing all the found objects that the Sheriff's office is holding (and has zero manpower to organize)....what about using the $1 million toward helping to reunite families with lost objects before the Sheriff's office disposes of them? With the million dollar surplus why are we not helping the people in Montecito who are struggling to dig out still? There are insurance nuances that are crazy that the SB Foundation could be assisting with. There are longtime families that inherited properties that don't have the means to recover fully. Many homes in the Olive Mill Road are are not plush mansions. What about the small businesses in Montecito? Why is it that a group of 7 moms had to form the SB Support Network with the non-profit assistance of the SB City College in order to help with the front-line disaster relief and hold the hands of the families... it was this organization that helped a mom get into a rental and help families that lost loved one's find housing...recently they helped someone that needed surgery post disaster. And, it was private families who helped get trucks and equipment for some of the gardeners that lost everything, including loved ones. We need to start telling the truth about all the non-profits, and what has went on, what worked and what didn't....we need to stop lying to ourselves and shine the light on what is really going on with the non-profits in town. There are corporate executives that were asked to help solicit funds for UW and after seeing the "inside" said they would never, ever support that organization again. This is the type of conversation that no one has a venue in which to discuss publicly, there is no reporter really digging into all this due to the tight knit circles. It's also frowned upon to question a non-profit. But boy do people talk amongst themselves about the local non-profits and what goes on. We need courage and bravery. How about a real, independent assessment of where the help really came from and who is sitting on what dollars etc. What worked? What didn't? Why is it that some of the older non-profits in town don't even have conversations with some of the non-profits on the front lines of the disaster? Has United Way given any money to Bucket Brigade, Doctors without walls or SB Support network? The online charity monitoring tools just funnel info that the non-profits submit. There is rarely independent hard questions.

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