FAQ

What is The National Compassion Fund?

The National Compassion Fund (The Fund) is a safe, transparent way for the public to give directly to the victims of mass casualty crimes, including shootings and terrorist attacks.

How did the National Compassion Fund come about?

The Fund was first proposed by victims and families from past mass casualty crimes across the country, including 9/11, Columbine, Va Tech, NIU, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown. After they experienced stressful and prolonged negotiations attempting to collect money donated in their names, they asked the National Center for Victims of Crime to partner with them to develop a new model of giving—one that genuinely serves victims, donors, and the wider public.

 

How is the Fund different from other organizations that collect money after a mass casualty crime?

The National Compassion Fund collects money for victims of mass casualty crimes and distributes that money directly to the victims and their families. We have no other agenda or purpose.

The Fund does not build memorials, set up scholarships, or fund community projects – however worthy these aims are. Established charities and other community groups can, and do, fund those things.

The Fund is different because it is overseen by people whose expertise is specifically with crime victims. The National Center for Victims of Crime brings to the Fund three decades of experience as the leading national resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them.

Learn more about the National Center for Victims of Crime at www.VictimsofCrime.org.

 

Why do we need a National Compassion Fund?

It sounds like an easy thing to do – donate directly to victims of a horrific crime. But how do donors know if the victims themselves are going to get the money?

Just because a fund or charity seems trustworthy or says it will give to the victims does not mean this automatically happens. After a mass shooting or terror attack, all kinds of funds offer to accept donations from a generous public. Unfortunately, the reality is that much of this money does not go to the victims, and those who hold the money are in no way accountable to the victims or their families.

Victims and their families watch as others raise money in their names – and those of their loved ones – only to see the money spent on schemes they don’t approve of or administrative fees of the charity or fund organizer. In addition, some of these funds are not registered as a 501(c)(3) charities and are therefore unable to offer tax-deductibility for donors. And some of the funds are, sadly, outright scams.

The National Compassion Fund is different. We are transparent and accountable to donors, victims, and the public.

The National Compassion Fund is…
      • Good for VICTIMS. At a time of grief and recovery, victims and their families should not have the added stress of negotiating with multiple funds, or having to justify receiving the money collected in their names. Victims deserve a fair distribution mechanism, with money paid out in a timely manner, solely on the basis of the injury incurred. We believe that the victims and families themselves are best placed to decide how to use the money to rebuild their lives.
      • Good for DONORS. Donors need confidence that their money is going directly to victims themselves, and that donations are tax deductible. The National Compassion Fund does not raise funds for any purpose other than to give directly to victims of mass casualty crimes. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering tax deductibility to donors. Our finances are independently audited and publicly available.
      • Good for the PUBLIC. There is an important public interest in a transparent model of giving in the aftermath of mass casualty crimes. Online and text-based donations are becoming the preferred method of giving – which can increase the possibility of fraud. Meanwhile, the public is becoming more aware of the limitations of traditional charities or ad-hoc funds in delivering direct payments to victims. The National Compassion Fund provides a direct bridge between donors and victims.

 

How does The Fund work?

For donors it is simple. They can log on to the National Compassion Fund website and donate via check, credit, or debit card. Or they can give a direct $10 text message donation via mGive. Donations are tax deductible. 100% of funds received go directly to the victims, minus a transparent 3% charge for those who use the electronic payment platform. Donors have the option to add an amount to cover this fee to their donation.

The Fund is overseen by the National Center for Victims of Crime and an Expert Panel made up of victim representatives and individuals who have experience with compensating crime victims and dealing with mass casualty crimes. The Fund is a standing entity, with separate accounts for different mass crimes. It can be open for donations within hours of a mass crime occurring anywhere in the country.

The Fund collects donations for a designated period of time and they are held by our partner bank, Eagle Bank. The Expert Panel consults with victims and the community, and determines a distribution protocol based on the amount collected and the nature of the injuries. All this information is available to victims, donors, and the wider public. National Center staff then process applications and authorize the bank to release payments to the victims.

An additional program of the National Center, the VictimConnect Resource Center staffs trained victim assistance specialists that receive updated information once a Fund has been opened. Specialists do not manage or send applications, but are able to assist victims who are in need of updates regarding the Fund or additional information on resources that are available in their communities after a mass crime has occurred. Contact the VictimConnect Resource Center through phone, text, or chat at 855-4-VICTIM [855-484-2846] and chat.victimconnect.org.

 

How does The Fund divide up the donation pool?

The Fund’s operations start with these principles: victims are paid based solely on their loss/injuries; victims deserve a victim-centered process; and donors, victims, and the public deserve a transparent process.

      • Victims should be compensated solely based on the type of injury and payments will be equal among victims with similar injuries. Payment is not based on income, profession, age, family status, insurance status, or any characteristic other than the injury suffered.
      • A victim-centered approach. The aftermath of mass crimes brings extreme stress and trauma to victims and families, in addition to the trauma and injury already suffered. The process of receiving gifts from the public should not add to this distress. Victims need a predictable process for distributing these funds, with clear timelines and a straightforward application process. They also need access to information about their other compensation options, including state-based crime victim compensation funds and civil actions. The money from the Fund is intended as symbolic effort to compensate victims for the emotional trauma they have suffered. We believe that victims are best-placed to decide for themselves what they need to rebuild their lives and ease their pain, so the money will not come with any restrictions on use. The National Center has the experience to help victims navigate this process, and to treat victims with respect and dignity.
      • A transparent process. Victims, donors, and the wider public deserve a transparent process from the time the first donation comes in, to the announcement of the distributions and to the final stage of the independent auditing process. All monies collected by the National Compassion Fund will be publicly accounted for; any administrative or electronic payment costs will be declared in advance and kept to an absolute minimum. The Fund will seek “anchor” sponsors to help fund administrative costs wherever possible. Public meetings will be convened in the affected communities, in addition to the private meetings with victims.

 

Why does the National Compassion Fund Need Anchor Sponsors?

All charitable or nonprofit organizations that raise money from the public need to pay their staff, pay for auditing, registration and legal advice, and pay for technology like website upkeep and server space.

After a mass tragedy, it will be important for National Center staff to travel to meet with the victims in person wherever they are, and conduct at least one public meeting in the community affected. These legitimate costs should be kept to the absolute minimum and be declared in advance to donors. The public, meanwhile, wants to know that their money is going to the victims themselves. The only way for 100% of the money collected by the National Compassion Fund to go to the victims is for a company or foundation to sponsor these administrative costs.

An “anchor sponsor” would be a corporation or other private entity who believes that America needs a new model of giving that is transparent for donors and the victims they want to help. It might be because this organization has roots in the community affected by a mass shooting or terror attack. Or it might be because they have a commitment to empowering citizens to help their fellow Americans in a time of extreme trauma and grief.

The National Compassion Fund will reach out to those organizations that share a passion for helping people recover and rebuild their lives after a horrific crime. If you are such an organization, and can offer sponsorship in money or in-kind, we would be happy to talk with you about how we can partner on this important cause.

If your organization would like to discuss sponsorship of the fund, you can contact us via our Director of Public Affairs, Tara Ballesteros, at tballesteros@ncvc.org.