State Releases Report on Charitable Response to
Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School
Makes new Charities Disaster Relief Guide available to public, nonprofits
The charitable response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, was immediate, worldwide and exceptionally generous. Challenges emerged for both newly established and existing organizations as they struggled to manage the volume of donations, identify the needs of the community and coordinate with other organizations.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein today released a report on the overwhelming charitable response
that evaluates information provided voluntarily by organizations engaged in fundraising related to the tragedy, provides a quantitative analysis of survey responses and identifies ways that state regulators and the nonprofit community can partner and collaborate to provide transparency, bolster donor confidence, consolidate resources and increase coordination.
“Each time our state is hit hard by a large-scale emergency or extreme weather related events, we see the best in human nature - that innate impulse and need to help and give during another person’s darkest hour,” said Governor Malloy. “We introduced this report to create a more transparent and streamlined system of accounting for the funds that are collected, recorded and distributed to Connecticut residents following a catastrophic event. This resource is one of the many steps we have taken to demonstrate that we are serious about better serving the public by making state government more transparent, more responsive and more efficient.”
"The generosity of people from all corners of our country and beyond was on display in the days and weeks following that horrible day in Sandy Hook," said Attorney General Jepsen. "The goal of this report is to document that generosity and provide transparency to the giving public about where their donations went while also developing strategies on how we can better prepare for and respond to tragic events. I appreciate the cooperation of the various organizations; 96 percent of those we asked to complete a voluntary survey did respond. My office will continue to communicate with these groups and monitor disbursement of remaining charitable funds."
“This report and the new Charities Disaster Relief Guide demonstrate our strong commitment to oversee charitable activities and fundraising in Connecticut, and I wish to express my thanks to the Sandy Hook donors worldwide for their generosity, and to the charities themselves for cooperating with us as we worked to establish a system of transparency and accountability appropriate for a charitable effort of this magnitude,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “The Disaster Relief Guide is a must-read for anyone involved in soliciting, managing, or donating funds for emergency relief. We have researched, collected and combined the best practices, resources and laws applicable to Connecticut into one easy to understand document.”
Within months of the tragedy, the Attorney General and Commissioner Rubenstein asked organizations and individuals that had been identified as having engaged in charitable fundraising related to Sandy Hook to complete a survey about their activities. In the fall of 2013, a second voluntary survey was issued to the organizations. The survey was sent electronically and was comprised of questions about funds raised, whether fundraisers communicated a designated charitable intent, categories of expenditures, unspent funds, surplus funds and general organizational information.
In total, 77 organizations provided information in response to the surveys, which serve as the basis of today's report. The respondents reported raising over $28 million in connection with the Sandy Hook tragedy. Of that, over $15 million had been distributed at the time of the survey responses. Unspent funds were reserved by organizations for long-term community needs – including mental health and other services – memorials, scholarships and future programming.
Attorney General Jepsen and Commissioner Rubenstein thanked Assistant Attorneys General Caitlin Calder, Karen Gano and Mark Kohler, head of the Special Litigation Department; Paralegal Cheryl Turner; Administrative Assistant Melissa Gordon; Secretary Nancy Santoro; University of Connecticut School of Law Intern Ellen P. Feeney; and Office of the Attorney General IT Analyst Mike Spigel and Information Technology Manager Scott Eliasson for their work on the survey collection and analysis and on the production of this report.
Office of the Governor:
Office of the Attorney General:
Jaclyn M. Falkowski
Department of Consumer Protection: