In the wee hours of June 12, a gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring dozens of others. The world immediately went into action, sending prayers, condolences, social media shout outs, blood donations — and cash.
Equality Florida set up a GoFundMe account the very same day and so far has raised more than $7.5 million to support the victims of the shooting, as well as their families and survivors. Since then, the nonprofit has teamed up with other organizations to combine funds. With so many nonprofits (and some scams) and the city of Orlando helping, it can get confusing with where to donate.
The two main fundraisers are the OneOrlando Fund and the Pulse of Orlando Fund.
“We made clear from the moment it launched that every penny we collected would go to the victims, the survivors, the families of those died,” said Nadine Smith, the CEO of Equality Florida. “Not one penny would cover overhead, there would be no fees from us associated with this.”
In fact, GoFundMe waived its fees for the first time for various groups under the OneOrlando and Pulse or Orlando umbrellas, said Terry DeCarlo, the executive director of The GLBT Center of Central Florida (The Center). He previously worked at Broward House for eight years.
“To say ‘amazing’ is still just putting it lightly,” DeCarlo said of the donations. “We’re still getting condolence books and banners and stuff daily from people. It's very overwhelming and it warms our heart to know that people are still two-and-a-half months later still reeling from this and it’s not been forgotten about and it’s still fresh in everybody's mind. That’s our worst fear is that people will forget and move on from what happened here in Orlando.”
Smith also emphasized that anyone who was at the nightclub that night, injured or not, is deserving of help.
“There were people who weren't hit by bullets who are dealing with trauma, who don't know that they should be applying for some portion of these funds,” she said. “There are people who are convinced they were the lucky ones and therefore they shouldn’t … we really want to make sure that they step forward and register.”
Here is a list of the fundraising efforts for the victims of the Orlando shooting:
The largest of all the fundraisers, the initiative is a collection of efforts among Equality Florida, GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, the city of Orlando, and others. The OneOrlando Fund is being managed by the National Center for Victims of Crime and a member of its expert panel, Ken Feinberg, who has been an administrator for fundraising efforts such as the BP oil spill and the Boston Marathon. The group ensures that the money is all handled properly and transparently. In the interest of transparency, Equality Florida also updates a page to update donors on where the money is going.
The deadline for disbursements is Sept. 25, so anyone who has been putting off making a donation is encouraged to do it before that date. The money cannot be released immediately because everyone filing a claim must be vetted to ensure that no scammers are taking advantage of people's generosity, as well as divvying up the money properly. So far, $23 million has been raised.
Payments are expected to be distributed to survivors and victims’ families on Oct. 1.
Donate or file a claim: OneOrlando.org
Mail a check to:
PO Box 4990
Orlando, FL 32802-4990
Pulse of Orlando
Because funds are not being released to the victims and their families until October, Pulse Orlando was created to help in the interim. The fund was founded by Aly N. Benitez, an attorney at Benitez Law Group and a friend of the owner of the Pulse nightclub. She is joined by four other board members, who are all volunteers in the effort.
The center is also selling “Love Wins” t-shirts and tote bags — 49 faces to represent the 49 killed that create the shape of a heart. The money raised goes to the Pulse of Orlando. Visit Ripitee.com to purchase.
The fund has raised more than $175,000 and $90,000 has been given to victims who are vetted through an application process to ensue donations are going to the right people. According to a press release, the organization needs $300,000 to meet the needs of victims until the major release of funds in October.
Donate or Apply for Aid: PulseOfOrlando.org
Mail a check to:
Pulse of Orlando, Inc
1223 E. Concord St.
Orlando, FL 32803
LGBTQ Alliance’s HealOrlando.org
The alliance created an online portal, HealOrlando.org, for a one-stop place where volunteers, donors, and businesses could see how they can help. The nonprofit also works with the Orlando United Assistance Center to provide help for victims and families.
On the site, the alliance encourages the public to donate to OneOrlando and the Pulse of Orlando Funds.
Donate or get updates: HealOrlando.org
A foundation created by the owners of Pulse nightclub, the donations will be distributed to two causes: helping the victims of the shooting and building a permanent memorial on the site of the club. The National Compassion Fund, an arm of the National Center for Victims of Crime, receive 90 percent of the donations. The other 10 percent will go towards the memorial.
One Pulse Community Fund
Also seeing the need for funds to be released to families immediately, Latino Leadership, Inc. teamed up with the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders to provide interest-free loans for victims and their families. As the shooting occurred on a Latin dance night, many of the victims and survivors were LGBT Latinos. Latino Leadership says it helps bridge the gap with language and cultural barriers. Also, as a loan program, the group is able to continue providing assistance rather than relying solely on donations from the public.