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13 Investigates: Colorado Healing Fund clarifies how donations are used

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Healing Fund says they have received $1.8 million in donations for the victims of Club Q so far. Even though only a fraction of that money is currently approved to spend on victims, the fund's Executive Director tells 13 Investigates more funds will be authorized in the coming days and weeks.

Over the weekend, some victims from previous mass shootings call for change in how the Colorado Healing Fund uses donations after the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs.

The fund's executive director, Jordan Finegan, says that they are working directly with victim's advocates that are in communication with Club Q survivors and the victim's families to better understand how the money needs to be spent.

Currently, $245,000 is authorized to be spent on Club Q victims. Nearly $195,000 is meant for direct cash disbursement through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) for the Club Q victims and the remaining $50,000 is mean travel or lodging costs for victims' families flying or driving into Colorado Springs.

“Every dollar of that $245,000 is going towards the victims and their families,” Finegan told 13 Investigates.  

The fund also says that they are already planning for long term expenditures for the Club Q victims.

“Folks who responded to Aurora saw that people who were paralyzed had really long term needs, and that there was no more money left in order to help support that. So that's part of the reason why we were created in order to help kind of create those plans,”  said Finegan.

However when victims of other mass shootings spoke in a press conference on Sunday, they said that the Colorado Healing Fund is a part of the "mass shooting industrial complex."

They argue that groups, like Colorado Healing Fund, take millions from charitable donations meant for victims under the pretense of administrative fees.

According to the Colorado Healing Fund's General Protocol for Response Report, donations made in response to a specific event, like Club Q, are held separate from the organization’s other accounts and 10% of all donations are used for administrative costs.

“There is nothing wrong with administration fees but when millions are made then 10% of millions should not go (towards administrative costs). That’s not what that requires,” one mass shooting victim's family member said on Sunday.  

The Colorado Healing Fund says they are financially lean. Finegan says she is the only paid employee for the fund and is currently working from her basement. The fund's board of trustees are all unpaid volunteers.

“We do not rent an office space," Finegan said. "We just pay for a mailbox.” 

In August of this year, the Colorado Healing Fund's Board of Trustees approved a rise in the administrative cost fee from 5% to 10%. Finegan says this was done "to sustain our organization."

Prior to Club Q, the Colorado Healing Fund has been activated four separate times since its inception, and the amount of donations varied from tragedy to tragedy:

May 7, 2019 - STEM School shooting - $18k

March 22, 2021 - Boulder Supermarket - $4.8 million 

May 2021 - Colorado Springs Mothers day tragedy - $32k

Dec 2021 - Soul Tribe Denver Lakewood - $73k

At Sunday's press conference, mass shooting victims called on the Governor Jared Polis to create a centralized victims fund where the Club Q survivors will receive all of the charitable donations.

"The Colorado Healing fund wants to use donations for what it wants to. It directs money away from victims and use uses the public to generate donations to fund executive salaries, administrative costs and programs that may never be used by victims,” one mass shooting survivor from the Pulse Orland nightclub Shooting from back in 2016 where dozens lost their lives.

According to a spokesperson for the group of mass shooting victims, there have been several examples of successful centralized victims funds, where victims retain all of the donations.

They point to the Thousand Oaks shooting in California from 2018 where the Conejo Family Victim Fund raised more than $4 million for victims in the shooting, the OneOrlando Fund that raised more than $30 million following the Pulse shooting in 2016, and finally the One Fund Boston that raised more than $80 million for survivors of the Boston bombing in 2013.

13 Investigates asked Finegan why the Colorado Healing Fund can't serve as a centralized victims fund and provide 100% of the charity donations for Club Q directly to the victims.

"I don't know all the dynamics of how a centralized victim's fund is set up in terms of how they're talking about it. I would need to do more research on it. The benefits of the Colorado Healing Fund, though, are that we are already in existence. We have been here since 2018. We are ready for when a mass tragedy happens. When funds come in to us, we honor the donor's intent," Finegan said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of the Club Q shooting and are in need of financial assistance, the Colorado Healing Fund is asking that you get in contact with a victim's advocate with Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance at the Colorado Expo as soon as possible. The Colorado Expo is at 3650 N Nevada Ave. It is open on November 28 until 7 p.m. and on November 29 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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