Break the Chain Give 'Till It Hurts

Created 11/7/2001 (11/7/2001) Since the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001, American generosity has been unprecedented. However, whenever a large amount of money is involved, there is always some question about how the money is being used and concern that our donations won't find their way to the people who really need them.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

At the latest count, over 1 billion dollars has been raised by donations of the public in the name of helping firefighters, police and other victims of the 9-11 emergencies in NYC and Washington, DC. There are about 6000 victims. $1,000,000,000 / 6000 = $167,000 per family of each victim.

Less than $3000 per family has been given out or allocated by these do good organizations. As was reported on the O'Reilly report, organizations like United way have not given any money at all even though they have collected $150 million in the name of the victims. They said that they will keep (withhold) 15% of the total monies for their efforts of collecting the money and only pass 85% down to other organizations who will also withhold some percentage of the money for their administrative costs like salaries, offices, utilities and other operational costs of those charities. SO this crisis is Christmas for these organizations.

I am outraged at this so I am calling my senator and representative to demand a governmental inquiry and accounting. In my opinion this is a much bigger deal than the few gas stations who have spiked prices immediately following the attacks. Please do your part and start to ask where is the money? Who got it, where, when and why?

At the same time that some organizations have become unduly rich over this, most other philanthropic organizations have become poor and report that they have not received donations since Sept 11th.

Rush Limbaugh, Oprah and O'Reilly have said they will stick with this story until all the money is accounted for, but it is clear that it is not going where we had intended it go.

PLEASE PASS THIS ON, AS I HAVE, TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. MAYBE WE WILL GET AN ANSWER FROM SOMEWHERE!

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Another version of this letter is slightly more mean-spirited and attacks the Red Cross specifically.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Subject: Fw: Where Is the Money Going?

Today, October 30 2001, the American Red Cross spitefully announced it's planned distribution for the 547 million dollars it collected in the name of the victims of the World Trade Center attack.

Every cent was collected "to help the families of the victims of the World Trade Center Disaster". So where are they spending the money???

They proudly announced today that 300 million out of the 547 million would actually go to victims. Well ain't that nice of them???? The other 247 million, a figure approaching 50%, would go to "new communication systems" (new phone banks from which to ask you for money) ... "diversity programs" (I'll let you figure that one out for yourselves) ... savings accounts for future attacks (interest bearing accounts profiting the Red Cross) ... "administration" (personal bank accounts of the executive officers) ... a new program to increase their blood inventory (marketing) ... and yes, finally ... 30 million to the new "public relations campaign" (again, self-serving marketing programs).

To those who donated, I ask ... were you interested in helping the families, or were you worried that Americans were not quite "warmed up enough" yet to the idea of diversity? Were you worried about children left without parents, or did you give your hard earned money to pay bonuses to executives? Did your sympathy relate to the American Red Cross's need for a new phone system? Or maybe their public image was causing you to lose sleep, and you wanted to help raise 30 million for a puiblic relations campaign?

Here in Houston we recently suffered floods like we have never seen before. A 500-year flood. The Red Cross was very active in soliciting donations to help the victims. Guess where the money went?? I bet you guessed wrong. The money went to LOANS to the people to help them rebuild. That's right, LOANS. As in you give the money, Red Cross LENDS it to victims (under threat of lien for repayment), who pay it back, and then the money goes ... yes, to the Red Cross for it's own use. Were the people of Houston asked for loans? No, they were asked for "donations to help the flood victims."

If you are interested, this story was covered in great detail on the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel tonight. Most of the major media, of course, reported only how wonderful the Red Cross was for donating 300 million to WTC victims, forgetting to mention that they kept the other half for themselves.

I took the time to write this email because I hope that you will join me in raising hell with the Red Cross, and in my commitment to NEVER give them another dime so long as they operate the way they do.

Also, I hope you will pass this email on to everyone you know.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

These chain are very similar to an earlier "is your donation is being misused?" chain. The apparent source of these objections is an ongoing debate on Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor.

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It is foolish to believe that these charities would just collect the money then turn around and cut checks for the victim's families. Each one of these charitable organizations is expected to use our donations in the most responsible manner possible. This includes determining need and requires administrative effort and cost - charity ain't cheap.

Some affected families don't need cash as much as they do grief counseling, food, housing and relocation assistance, education, etc. In addition, rescue and clean-up efforts are ongoing and require continuing funds. Quite frankly, I don't want my money turned over, in a lump sum, to anybody. Sure these organizations have been guilty of mismanaging funds from time to time, but what organization wouldn't mismanage hundreds of millions of dollars received in just over a month?

Ironically, as the popularity of these chains waned, chains comparing 9/11 survivor benefits to military pensions grew popular. These argued that WTC survivors get more than they deserve. Ironically the newer chain is attributed to Rush Limbaugh, who is cited in the first example above as feeling that the victim's weren't getting everything they're entitled to. I guess there's just no pleasing some people. Break this Chain!

What Do You Think?


References: American Red Cross, United Way of New York City

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