What’s going on with the Flood Recovery Fund?

Have donations to the “Flood Recovery Fund” (set up by the City of Sioux Falls) been distributed yet?

Mayor TenHaken said $7,500 had been received, and that was VERY early on . . . perhaps within hours of it being announced. That’s the only quantifier I’ve seen about how much money came in.

The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation has been designated as the collecting agency for the donations. While I’ve never requested any grant, etc. from this group, I know some people who have had other dealings with them, and were not happy with the results. Their board, donors & honorees are quite the “who’s who” of Sioux Falls – a real mutual admiration society, if you will.

I believe the SFACF has a $140 million dollar war chest (most of it liquid investments) which – in spite of their very nice ongoing charitable grants, scholarships & monetary awards – grows every year via donations & their investments.

Given the tremendous existing multi-million dollar donations this organization already has on hand, I question why they have been designated to receive and disperse these donated Flood Recovery funds. . . . as opposed to the Red Cross, another existing disaster relief organization, or even some municipal equivalent of a Go Fund Me page, for example.

I believe the citizens who donate to this Flood Recovery Fund deserve confirmation that 100% of the donations received are dispersed to deserving recipients, and that no portion of these donations get absorbed back into one or more of the SFACF fund accounts.

Will we ever know?



14 comments ↓

#1 kurtz on 04.09.19 at 8:33 am

Hey, what’s not to like about six month winters, an extremist legislature, rampant racism and living on the banks of a chemical toilet spewing over a perpetual welfare state and permanent disaster area?

Producers operating heavy equipment, much of it unlicensed or exempt, contribute disproportionately to the degradation of public roadways and bridges; yet, most farmers seem to believe they already pay their fair share through property taxes and other means.

In South Dakota conservative means moral hazard trumps self-reliance.

#2 Matthew Paulson on 04.09.19 at 12:38 pm

A lot of the money that organizations like SFACF have are designated by donors through things like donor advised funds and charitable foundations. Just because SFACF has money in the bank doesn’t mean they are free to distribute it however they please.

#3 l3wis on 04.09.19 at 2:45 pm

MP – I think we know that, what we are asking is why run the recovery funds through them? The city could have just set up a simple bank account.

#4 matt johnson on 04.09.19 at 3:01 pm

If the city had just set up a checking account how would the account have been administered? Would it have required ordinances to pay out funds? Would you have trusted city officials to make distributions? How much public input would have been necessary when making those decisions? I don’t think it is city funds in this account, but rather donations made to an entity that is familiar with handling these types of contributions. The ones making distribution decisions are people from agencies used to disaster recovery efforts. I think it is probably being handled as best it could be, and at the appropriate time the foundation will have to account for distributions made together with the other funds they manage. On to the bigger picture, the people making decisions for the foundation (other than paid staff) are volunteers, many of them with particular expertise in the areas they are assisting the foundation (ie investment professionals on investment committee, accountants on audit committee and so on).

#5 Blasphemo on 04.09.19 at 3:30 pm

If this is indeed a situation of “donations made to an entity that is familiar with handling these types of contributions”, and the SFACF has staff/volunteers who are “The ones making distribution decisions are people from agencies used to disaster recovery efforts”, why didn’t they get WAY out in front of this and put out news & press releases stating what their plan is for distributing these funds from the onset !

#6 Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation on 04.09.19 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for your interest in the Flood Recovery Fund. One hundred percent of donations to this fund will be disbursed to those impacted. We invite you to read the story posted to our website on Thursday, April 4, which provides information on how impacted residents can apply for Flood Recovery Fund assistance: sfacf.org/flood

#7 l3wis on 04.09.19 at 4:53 pm

Thank You Anonymous Staffer for the update!

#8 matt johnson on 04.09.19 at 5:29 pm

maybe Blasphemo- should have read about the fund; the decision makers are the Red Cross, Lutheran Social Services, United Way and others- not the foundation staff and volunteers; I was merely pointing out that the who’s who that the blog seems to criticize are also good at what they are doing for the foundation; they did get out in front on this and posted how to apply for funds- maybe look before you crticize

#9 Blasphemo on 04.09.19 at 11:17 pm

NEWSFLASH Matt Johnson: maybe YOU should have read about the fund before your first comment so you could have offered actual substantiation for the opinions you offered at that time. This “Flood Recovery Fund” was announced to the public 3/15/19 via a news item on the COSF web site, the personal Facebook page of Paul TenHaken & the COSF Facebook page. THERE HAVE BEEN NO UPDATES ABOUT THE FUND ON ANY OF THESE MEDIAS SINCE THAT TIME. Public donations were solicited by those means & updates should be made via the same media. Here’s the “detailed” info offered by the link to the SFACF provided on those 3/15/19 posts: “Following a major spring storm which caused historic flooding throughout the area, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation has established a Flood Recovery Fund to assist residents impacted by the storm. Gifts made to the fund will help residents recover from flood-related damage. Gifts can be made online or mailed to the Community Foundation at:200 N. Cherapa Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57103
Checks can be made payable to SFACF – Flood Recovery Fund. “”Here, we center our work around fostering a culture of giving and overall care for our neighbors,” said Community Foundation President Andy Patterson. “Following this storm, which has caused significant damage for so many in our community, we’re proud to be able to do what we can to help our neighbors in need during this difficult time.” “ NOTE there is NO info there “how to apply for funds”. Southdacola’s 4/8 blog post inquiring about a Fund update came 3+ weeks after the funds were solicited. His post & subsequent comments actually prompted some action; the SFACF finally reacted with something beyond a passive post on their own web page (which by their own admission was not until 4/4 – nearly 3 weeks after they originally solicited the funds). This 4/4/19 announcement states the deadline to submit a application for financial assistance from the fund is 4/15/19 – that’s a whopping EIGHT DAY WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A REQUEST.

#10 matt johnson on 04.10.19 at 8:28 am

Several thoughts: 1- it does not take a lot of effort to find a news report dated 3/15 which describes who will be reviewing the requests as they come in; it clearly takes some time however to establish the ground rules and allow time for other entities to provide assistance as this was to be a last stop for costs not covered by other programs; 2- incredible prescience as the announcement was made (by yours and the foundation’s admission on April 4 in response to a comment on this blog on April 8; 3- perhaps a little remedial math is in order as April 4th thru April 15th is 12 days not 8; This admittedly is not a long amount of time but had they set the request period at six months there would have been complaints about not getting the money to the people who need it. That returns me to the unanswered questions in my original statement on this issue. What would have satisfied the naysayers in how this was to be handled?. It could not be done at the city level without ordinance, public input and delays. In order to be tax deductible it needs to go to an entity that has that classification. The decisions about distribution should be made by those used to working with disaster relief. That is what is being done. My last question to Blasphemo- how much skin do you have in the game (in other words how much was your contribution to the fund)?

#11 scott on 04.10.19 at 10:16 am

cliche that needs to be retired: skin in the game.

#12 Blasphemo on 04.10.19 at 2:54 pm

Matt Johnson – several thoughts take ME back to your apparent lack of recognition of a major point of my second comment: 1) PR/news 101: if there are updates to a story/issue reported previously, the mindful or responsible originator makes those updates via the same media. Does the Argus make follow up story coverage or necessary retractions/corrections in, say, the SF Shopping News or on local broadcast TV? Do KDLT/KSFY/KELO make corresponding updates in the Argus? Did the mayor make updates to his flood-related FB videos on the COSF web site? NO. Argus story updates are printed in subsequent editions of the Argus, TV news on TV, FB posts on FB. Not the COSF via their web page, nor a] the mayor via his FB page, b] the COSF FB page, or c] the SFACF FB page, made any updates on the fund as of 4/8/19. 2) Once again, you make vague references (“news report dated 3/15) lacking specific attribution, & declarations lacking substantiation (“…it clearly takes some time however to establish the ground rules…”) which some of us won’t accept as fact coming from you alone. Buttress your assertions & make your best case up front. 3) “Incredible prescience” re: SFACF 4/4/19 post on their own website (not exactly the #1 news source in/around SF) indeed. See #1 above. 4) Remedial math: April 4-15 is eight (8) business days, inclusive. I doubt a benefit applicant is going to get the most authoritative assistance to “begin the application process” by calling 211 outside of commonly accepted weekday business hours. 5) There’s been no suggestion to “set the request period at six months” as you flippantly exaggerate. Note this from the COSF web site 3/15/19: “…so that funds are provided to those with proven and impactful needs unmet by insurance and state or federal assistance. Details on the request for funds will be announced in the coming days”, and this from the SFACF web site: “Financial assistance through the Flood Recovery Fund will be targeted towards low income homeowners …”. If low income homeowners are indeed the targeted recipients, chances they have flood insurance are low. They likely will best benefit from such a devastating loss with financial assistance sooner than later, and locally-sourced rather than waiting for state or federal-level assistance. And, note that fund request info for the victims “… will be announced in the coming days”, not WEEKS, as turned out to be the case. 6) Some of us naysayers – perhaps L3wis included – WANT government and organizations involved with government to KNOW we are watching as a constant reminder they will be held accountable. We question their work via blog & social media posts/comments, & strongly support similar mass media investigative journalistic efforts. Furthermore, toward the ideal of transparency, THIS naysayer would see progress toward that ideal if announcements like that for the Flood Recovery Fund, for example, would include a lot more WHY right up front – going to any & all lengths to avoid any appearance of impropriety. “As a trusted entity in the community, the Community Foundation will ensure funds get to those in need as they recover from this week’s flooding event.” Just one or two more sentences of explanation would instill more trust: THE SFACF WAS CHOSEN AS THEY HAVE THE NECESSARY CLASSIFICATION FOR TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS. DISTRIBUTION DECISIONS WILL BE MADE BY THE SFACF’s OWN UNMET NEEDS COMMITTEE, COMPRISED OF DISASTER RELIEF EXPERTS FROM THE RED CROSS, LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES, HELPLINE CENTER, AND INTERLAKES AREA ACTION PROGRAM. 6) My skin in the game is having seen many major charities apparently more interested in counting their growing contributions than dispersing them, and becoming bloated with administrative and overhead costs. Big charities need to be doggedly held accountable. The published SFACF Annual Report does not break down the amounts held in their seven different types of fund designations: Community Fund, Affiliate Community Funds, Field of Interest Funds, Designate Funds, Donor Advised Funds, Organization Funds and Scholarships – which is not to insinuate they have to. However, to Matthew Paulson’s related comment: the SFACF’s own description of ‘Community Fund’, “Donors who made gifts to the Community Fund or other unrestricted endowments help us meet the ever evolving needs in our area.” So, with the SFACF Board of Directors, the Unmet Needs and 9 other standing Committees, and an apparent paid SFACF staff of ten in place already, I see multiple community “funds needed” issues like Flood Relief which I feel the SFACF could step up to meet (using the Community Fund apparently unhindered by stricter donor requirements) without asking for additional donations and/or tax revenue appropriations. 7) With a paid staff of ten, the SFACF could have done a helluva lot better job in more timely, widely distributed follow up Flood Recovery Fund info for the public and flood victims beyond a singular 4/4/19 post on their own web site. 8) Lastly, while there was no update on the Flood Recovery Fund after 3/15/19 on the SFACF FB page, there is (among some other posts), of course, this post from 4/8: “Please join us…at City Blossom, our signature fundraising event designed to recognize the truly incredible impact of people helping people. Your attendance and contribution of $1,000/couple or $500/single will be used to provide important grants to nonprofits and causes, ensuring the continued vibrancy of the community we all call home.” $500/plate. In your own words, Matt, “the who’s who that the blog seems to criticize are also good at what they are doing for the foundation.” Yes. The SFACF who’s who leprechauns are very good at not only accepting big gift$ from donors and sustainers, but also growing their pot ‘o gold at pricey exclusive fundraisers.

#13 matt johnson on 04.10.19 at 7:17 pm

Their pot of gold? there are distribution requirements for community foundations and I am sure they have been met; distributions must go as directed and to charitable purposes; you and others want to tell me (or others) where to contribute money; will complain about any decision that is not in agreement with your world view ; and will even tell the mayor how he should dress-how over I do not see the same directives to former pres Barry O when he is speaking to foreign audiences or Democratic presidential candidates (Sanders and Fako Beto ) when they are campaigning

#14 Blasphemo on 04.10.19 at 9:25 pm

Matt “Make America Great Again” Johnson: thank you so much for finally tipping your hand with the typical racist whataboutism invoking “pres Barry O”. You’ve done yourself and the SFACF a real service. My, what humanitarians you are.

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