But for a charity, while public donations are invaluable, public confidence is irreplaceable. Our concern is that the complaints about the foundation's oversight of the bombing fund could reduce citizens' confidence that cash gifts will be used as intended, which could reduce giving in future years for similar causes handled not just by the foundation — it administers about 1,300 nonprofit funds — but other organizations too.
Given the number of people affected by the bombing and the lifelong medical challenges of some survivors, it's unlikely any charitable fund could cover all associated costs for all victims for the rest of their lives. The fact there have been so few public complaints about the bombing fund during the past 17 years would seem to indicate the foundation has done its job well.
The audit will shed further light on this issue. Meantime, if legitimate demand for aid requires drawing down the bombing fund's reserves, so be it. That money will have served the purpose for which it was donated. And donors will feel greater confidence about giving to disaster relief funds.