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How to do recovery charity correctly

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm •  Published: April 17, 2013

In an ideal world, perhaps, donors could just hold off until these details are finalized, but that is not how disaster-related charity works. The victims of April 15 are currently on everyone's mind, and giving is natural. As media attention wanes, charitable impulses will too. A clever study examined Internet giving after the 2004 tsunami and found that "an additional 700-word story in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal raises donations by 18.2 percent of the daily average."

Of course, it goes against many donors' instincts to assume that charitable organizations, especially new ones set up by public officials, will do the right thing. My grandfather grew up in czarist Russia, and my father grew up in Nazi Germany, so I don't automatically trust the authorities. Yet even a skeptical economist can see that Monday's tragedy merits giving money on faith. In this unusual setting, it is better to give The One Fund Boston the freedom to flexibly spend to meet needs as they appear, rather than to tightfistedly require safeguards that will take months to enshrine formally.

Besides, Menino has shown fiscal prudence and passion for his city over the past 20 years. He will surely help select stewards for the fund who share those virtues. Business leaders, who are usually cagey about giving out cash, have shown their confidence by donating generously to The One Fund Boston. John Hancock, the main sponsor of the Marathon, has contributed $1 million.

We owe the victims not only our generosity, but also our good sense. Too much money was wasted after 9/11 by small, unfocused charities. The One Fund offers Bostonians a single repository for their charity -- one whose work can then be scrutinized appropriately. But the time to give is now. Let's trust the mayor and the governor, and donate as much as we can to One Fund Boston.