weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Donations for Las Vegas shooting victims are plentiful but disjointed

Updated October 11, 2017 - 11:43 pm

Donors from all over the world have contributed more than $15 million so far for victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

But the sum is spread over several accounts yet to be consolidated. And it’s still unclear how much of the money raised will go directly to the intended recipients.

According to multiple sources familiar with the process, two groups are each working to create nonprofit entities.

Several casino properties are working together to create a place to collect money, but not all of those donations would go to victims and families. Donations would also be used to bolster community needs, such as mental health services and blood banks, though details are still being worked out, sources say.

The sources asked not to be identified because all the details have not yet been worked out.

Another group is working to create a nonprofit that would donate 100 percent of the money collected directly to victims and families, sources say.

Big money

Right now a lot of money is in a lot of different places.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding account for victims and their families early on Oct. 2, which currently holds the majority of donations.

That account reached about $10.6 million Wednesday.

All of that money is intended for victims and their families. But the GoFundMe platform and credit card processors charge a fee for using their services.

“It (GoFundMe) was accessible, and it was something we decided at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning a week ago,” Sisolak said. “We never would have imagined it would have been this successful, and we are very appreciative of that.”

Sisolak said he didn’t consider the 7.9 percent in fees (plus an additional 30 cents per donation) that the platform generally takes from donations raised, nor that GoFundMe donations are not tax deductible. The 7.9 percent includes a 2.9 percent payment processing fee. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“It was an immediate thing we did” to try to help, Sisolak said.

GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy said “standard fees remain in place for online donations,” but “standard fees” do not apply to offline donations, in the form of cash or checks. Cichy did not return repeated requests for comment asking for the share of online and offline donations, along with the ways to make offline donations to the fund.

GoFundMe is associated with the Direct Impact Fund, an independent, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, but details of how much is in that fund and the relationship with GoFundMe are unclear. Neither Cichy nor Chris Young, head of GoFundMe’s legal department, returned a request for comment.

A review of the 1,000 largest GoFundMe donations that have come in so far show that seven totaling about $4 million have been made offline. There are 84,967 donations total and counting. Assuming that 7.9 percent plus an additional 30 cents per donation is deducted from the rest of the money, that means slightly more than $10 million is left for victims and their families, while GoFundMe and credit card processors eat up more than $500,000.

GoFundMe has donated $150,000 to the fund as well, Cichy said.

Sisolak also approached Nevada State Bank to host an account for donations, according to Sandi Milton, senior vice president of marketing communications at the bank. That account currently holds more than $77,000.

To be determined

Launched in 2010, GoFundMe is headquartered in San Diego. The company was valued at $600 million in 2015 when it struck a venture capital deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It is common for crowdfunding platforms to charge fees, said Henderson-based crowdfunding expert Ruth Hedges.

Hedges, founder and executive producer of the Global Crowdfunding Convention, said crowdfunding platforms tend to charge between 5 percent and 9 percent.Wes Rand, Severiano del Castillo Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

GoFundMe’s fees have caused some to be hesitant to donate to the fund.

Kenneth Feinberg, a victim-compensation expert who is working with Clark County to administer and distribute money to victims and their families, said “anybody associated with this (fundraising) program in any way should be doing it pro bono in the pubic interest,” including credit-card payment processors.

Other entities are also raising money but haven’t decided where to put the money.

Zappos has raised more than $300,000 so far, with a plan to match up to $1 million. Steven Bautista, who oversees the Zappos for Good program, said the company is raising as much as it can and will do its due diligence to figure out where to put the money.

Steve Schwartz, public affairs manager at Tableau Software, said the company has raised more than $100,000 so far, but he would prefer to donate to something with nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax status.

Tableau is holding its annual data analytics conference at Mandalay Bay this week and is raising money for victims and their families at a physical retail space at the conference from attendees and other private sources.

“For a lot of individuals, where they’re giving ends up coming down to a couple of things,” Schwartz said. “One is the tax- deductibility. The other half is that a lot of folks at the conference have employee matching programs, and a 501(c)(3) opens the opportunity for their companies to match.”

Consolidation and distribution

On Oct. 5, Lombardo and Sisolak partnered with the nonprofit National Center for Victims of Crime to take over the responsibilities of managing and distributing the GoFundMe account.

“I think it’s important to remove both me and him (Sisolak) from that (the GoFundMe campaign), because I don’t want anybody saying the money is being misused,” Lombardo said.

Jeff Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said, “All the money that’s in that GoFundMe account … is ultimately going to be pooled into our account with money from other sources, and all of that will create one, big lump sum that will be divided up 100 percent among the victims.”

Separately, several casino operators have raised and/or allocated money but haven’t yet decided where to contribute. Sources familiar with the process say not all casino properties want 100 percent of the donations going directly to victims and their families. That requires a separate fund not solely committed to distributing donations directly to victims.

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said the company has committed $1 million “to assist those impacted” by the shooting, but the company has “yet to finalize how the funds will be administered.”

Caesars Entertainment Corp. said it has collected $2 million in donations “to assist those impacted by this terrible event and to help our community heal.” Jennifer Forkish, vice president of corporate communications at Caesars, said the company is “working to quickly identify where we will be directing the funds,” adding that “a number of excellent charitable opportunities have presented themselves.”

Boyd Gaming Corp. pledged $1 million on Oct. 3, but spokesman David Strow said “we have not distributed those funds as of yet.”

Strow said “our preference is to coordinate our efforts with our partners in the Nevada Resort Association.”

Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the Adelson Family Foundation established a $4 million relief fund. A spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Lombardo said casino properties are “creating other funds because of the 501(c)(3) aspect.”

But the National Center for Victims of Crime is a 501(c)(3), and it created the National Compassion Fund Las Vegas on Oct. 3 to collect donations. The Compassion Fund does not have any of its own fees associated with donations, though there is still a credit card processing fee.

Dion was unable to say how much money the fund has collected so far, but Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the fund has collected more than $850,000.

Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine did not return a request for comment about whether and how casinos are pooling their resources, whether all donations will go to victims and their families and whether casinos are creating other funds to address the tax-deductibility aspect.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
DEA Launches New Program To Combat Opioid Epidemic
The Drug Enforcement Administration is launching a new effort in Nevada to combat the opioid epidemic.
Plenty of work remains on Drew Las Vegas

The former Fontainebleau — the blue-tinted tower that has blighted the Strip for a decade — is slated to open as the Drew in the second quarter of 2022.