August 7, 2013; Seattle Post-Intelligencer


NPQ has previously written about a flap surrounding the distribution of funds raised for the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, but now an audit by the Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has concluded that donor intentions were not violated by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, which is overseeing the disbursement of $11 million raised.

At issue had been the fact that the foundation is slated to give only $7.7 million to the families of the 26 people killed and to survivors. Committees will decide how to use the rest of the money. But some, including a number of the families that suffered the loss of a child, wondered why more of the money is not going to victims.

In the audit, Jepsen actually found that only $1.2 million of the $11 million raised was specifically raised for the families; he said the rest was donated more generally for community needs, to be spent at the discretion of the foundation. “Accordingly, there is simply no basis to conclude that the foundation’s decision to retain $4 million, or 34 percent of the fund, for the community and the families, fails to comport with donor intent or is otherwise unreasonable,”

Jepsen went on to emphasize, “As I have stated previously, reasonable minds may differ as to how funds should be allocated, and I neither endorse nor criticize any of the foundation’s decisions…While I am concerned with the lack of transparency demonstrated in communicating about decision-making processes and procedures, our review found that the foundation has been in compliance with both donor intent and its governing documents.”

Jepsen’s audit included a review of every “letter, note or card” that accompanied a donation, he said, and a total of 20,000 documents, but in the end, the formal findings may not quell the sense among some that the foundation is not seeing to the needs of those most damaged.—Ruth McCambridge