Foundations offer way to double hurricane relief

If you flipped through the Sept. 25 issue of Time Magazine, you would have learned a startling fact about the financial vulnerability of everyday Americans.

Citing a report by the Federal Reserve, the Time article shared that 40 percent of Americans are not financially equipped to cope with an emergency expense of $400 or more. Now apply that scenario to what’s facing millions of Americans in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

The bottom line, there’s a dire need among fellow Americans trying to get back on their feet who otherwise can’t recover without outside assistance. And for those who have the desire to give, we’re looking for a way to be sure our donations are effective and fulfil the intended goal.

Bohemian Foundation offers Coloradans way to double donation

To help Coloradans respond to those in need, Bohemian Foundation and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado offer Colorado’s Hurricane Recovery Fund.

Bohemian Foundation will match – dollar-for-dollar up to $3 million – gifts made by Nov. 1, 2017, from Colorado individuals, businesses, and foundations to Colorado’s Hurricane Recovery Fund, established by the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.

These two foundations also teamed up to support recovery efforts for Hurricane Katrina and our Northern Colorado fires of 2012 and floods of 2013. Through these disasters, we learned that there are often unmet intermediate and long-term needs, which are the focus of this fund. To distribute Coloradans’ generous donations, we will work with trusted partners to fund local nonprofits that best know the needs in their communities.

“This recovery fund allows Coloradans to assist the thousands of individuals who have suffered from the devastating 2017 hurricane season,” said Pat Stryker, founder of Bohemian Foundation. “With this matching challenge, we invite all Coloradans to double the impact of their giving. We know our generous Colorado communities will answer this challenge.”

How Colorado businesses can help

Colorado corporations that match employees’ charitable contributions can double these amounts, resulting in a four-to-one match! For example, if an employee donates $50, and the company matches it with another $50, Bohemian Foundation will generously match this entire $100 amount, thus donating $200 to those in need.

As of Sept. 27, Moody’s Analytics estimates that repairing the damage from Hurricane Maria could cost Puerto Rico between $45 billion to $95 billion. The high end of the range represents almost an entire year’s economic output for Puerto Rico. And don’t forget the $200 billion in damage to Texas and Florida from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to a preliminary Moody’s estimate.

Hundreds of other organizations and GoFundMe pages collecting donations for hurricane victims have sprung up. In the first five days after Hurricane Harvey, more than 850 campaigns on GoFundMe brought in more than $4.5 million.

GoFundMe takes 7.9 percent of every donation made on its site through administrative and credit card processing fees. The Community Foundation is not charging an administrative fee, accepts checks and non-cash assets such as stocks, along with convenient online giving. (Credit cards gifts are assessed a 2 percent third-party credit card processing fee.) 

Many of these causes may well be worthwhile, but I implore you to be cautious and do your homework.

We are working with Bohemian Foundation to strategically reach out to community foundations, local United Way branches, and other in-the-know, reliable organizations and people in the impacted areas.  We’re also holding conversations to identify boots-on-the-ground nonprofits that can carry out intermediate and long-term recovery work, while we’re keeping in mind that the goal is to help people get on with their lives and livelihoods.

On a personal note, I look forward to visiting Houston later this month to help with relief efforts along with other volunteers from Northern Colorado. While I’m there, I plan to connect with local nonprofit representatives to identify the most pressing needs.

To donate or learn more, visit www.nocofoundation.org, email DonorServices@NoCoFoundation.org or call 970-224-3462.

Ray Caraway is president of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, which serves the region as a steward of donor gifts through thoughtful, responsible, and timely due diligence efforts.