VF, Club Q Advocates: End Colorado Healing Fund
Bread and Roses, which has been providing mutual aid for victims and survivors of the Club Q and Sol Tribe mass shootings in Colorado, recently published an open letter demanding that 100% of all donations collected by Denver-based nonprofit Colorado Healing Fund immediately be disbursed directly to the survivors and families of victims of the mass shooting at Club Q.
VictimsFirst, which is a network of families and survivors from over two decades of mass shootings, supports this demand and joins them in calling out the nonprofit. Not a penny of the donations meant for victims and survivors should be withheld for any reason or spent on other projects decided by the Colorado Healing Fund and their partners.
In addition to giving 100% of the donations collected to Club Q victims/survivors, we also demand the following:
1. The immediate release of the remaining donations that continue to be withheld from Boulder victims’ families by the Colorado Healing Fund since 2021 for unspecified and undefined “long-term needs.” These funds should be equitably distributed directly to the 10 families of those murdered.
No nonprofit should ever be able to determine any individual victim’s long-term needs. No nonprofit should be able to withhold or decide how to spend funds meant for victims/survivors. Victims/survivors should be empowered to make their own financial decisions with the monetary gifts donors intended for them. The fiduciary responsibility that the Colorado Healing Fund has is to honor donor intent and give the donations they collected directly to victims/survivors. Their fiduciary responsibility is not to meddle in the lives of victims/survivors who deserve and should be allowed privacy, dignity, and respect.
22% should NOT be held back from Club Q victims/survivors who need monetary support now. 100% needs to be given directly to Club Q victims/survivors as quickly as possible and the Colorado Healing Fund needs to get out of the way instead of trying to operate in the long-term as a conservator for victims/survivors that no court appointed. Victims/survivors did not ask for and do not want a long-term relationship with the Colorado Healing Fund.
2. The immediate release of the Colorado Healing Fund’s independent audit for 2021.
The public deserves full transparency and a right to know how the Colorado Healing Fund has spent donations collected for victims/survivors in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
3. The complete dissolution of the Colorado Healing Fund.
The victims/survivors of past mass casualty crimes in the state of Colorado deserve justice and the victims/survivors of future mass casualty crimes in the state of Colorado deserve dignity, privacy, and 100% of the donations intended for them. It is only by completely shutting down the Colorado Healing Fund that its re-victimizing model – which harms victims/survivors during the most excruciating time of their lives – permanently ends. We do not want to see any future mass shooting family of the deceased or any of those injured, mentally or physically, endure this.
With the dissolution of the Colorado Healing Fund, it should distribute whatever is left of its $1 million in “seed money” (which was reported to have been taken from consumer fraud settlement cases) back to the specific consumers who were actually defrauded or equitably to Boulder, Sol Tribe, CO Springs, and Club Q victims/survivors.
We also want to make clear the following to both the Colorado Healing Fund and to the concerned public:
1. No “expert” or advisory board will ever know better than the victims/survivors themselves.
The Colorado Healing Fund continues to employ a paternalistic framework that re-traumatizes victims/survivors of mass violence by eliminating their ability to choose how to use the monetary gifts to manage and cope with their trauma with privacy and dignity. The so-called “experts'' affiliated with the Colorado Healing Fund continually dismiss the voices of victims/survivors and publicly claim to know better. They have repeatedly ignored the actual victims/survivors who have told them, shooting after shooting, that the nonprofit is causing additional harm through their model, process, and lack of true transparency.
Victims/survivors should always be treated with respect and dignity. Club Q victims/survivors are responsible adults who know exactly what they need. Like the victims/survivors that came before them, they did not ask for the Colorado Healing Fund to assess their needs, invest in a resiliency center, or develop a long-term plan for them. The Colorado Healing Fund has inserted itself into their lives for the long term, which is incredibly invasive and sets up an unnecessary and exploitative dependency upon the nonprofit.
Remember, the Colorado Healing Fund is not the IRS or even a governmental agency. No nonprofit should not be permitted to hold onto donations intended for the victims/survivors of mass violence and force victims/survivors to justify their need with receipts, bank statements, and written explanations. The need is apparent, which is why donors across the country generously give to those who are suffering.
2. There are models that do the right thing, which the Colorado Healing Fund chooses to completely ignore. Instead, it continues to institute a model that is “proven” to exploit and re-victimize.
Right now, the National Compassion Fund has been invited into Colorado to ensure 100% of the donations collected through Good Judy Garage go directly to Club Q victims/survivors in an equitable fashion. Not everyone is aware of this because the Colorado Healing Fund has been endorsed by politicians and national LGBTQ+ nonprofits, many of whom did not know any better.
Similarly, in California, nonprofit organizations have banded together in response to the shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay to ensure that the victims/survivors there also receive 100% of the donations being collected for them through a Centralized Victims Fund. The same was true in Chesapeake, Virginia after the mass shooting there. Mass shooting victims across the country—except in Colorado—will get 100% of the donations being collected for them.
VictimsFirst also recognizes the tremendous care, competence, and mutual aid provided by Bread and Roses to the Club Q victim base as well as their efforts to ensure victims/survivors get the help and monetary support so desperately needed by the families of those murdered, those who were shot, those injured, and those who survived the shootings at both Sol Tribe and Club Q.
With all of these examples of how to ethically collect and distribute donations for mass shooting victims/survivors, why does the Colorado Healing Fund continue to completely disregard these models and the victims/survivors themselves? Why does the Colorado Healing Fund continue to do what’s ethically wrong, financially irresponsible, and morally repugnant while claiming their model is backed by “science” and past experience?
The Colorado Healing Fund’s self-proclaimed “experts” say they have “evaluated numerous responses ranging from 9/11 to the Virginia Tech shootings to the Boston Marathon bombing” to create their antiquated policies. These tragedies respectively occurred in 2001, 2007, and 2013—meaning, the Colorado Healing Fund’s experts are actively ignoring over a decade of responses to mass violence in favor of models that give power to the nonprofit rather than empowering victims/survivors.
We will never forget how Jordan Finegan used the donations collected for Boulder victims to double her salary and how the Colorado Healing Fund took hundreds of thousands of dollars away from Boulder victims for “administration fees.”
The Colorado Healing Fund waits around to be funded by the next incident of mass murder, thriving off the pain of others and the donations intended for victims.
3. The Colorado Healing Fund does not have published policies guiding specific monetary direct-to-victim distribution, nor does it apply its own guidelines consistently.
The donations collected by the Colorado Healing Fund are not equitably distributed to the victim base. The only published policies are its General Protocol for Response (June 2021), which provides no specific policies on how much money (or what percentage) gets distributed to individual victims for the needs identified by the nonprofit.
The Colorado Healing Fund states in its own General Protocol that “five percent (5%) of all donations are used for administrative costs.” However, we will not forget that before the Gill Foundation agreed to cover the Colorado Healing Fund’s administration costs the CHF went against its own protocol and raised administration costs to 10% without ever giving an explanation as to why its fees were doubled for a mass casualty crime that affected the LGBTQ+ community. It also has not been released how much was paid to cover administrative costs and how/why this amount differs from the $221,200.00 taken in 2021 from the donations for Boulder victims.
4. There is a how-to guide that nonprofits, governments, community organizations, and businesses can reference to ensure they respond to mass shootings in ways that are ethical and that prioritize victims.
VictimFirst’s Best Practices For Mass Casualty Crime is the first-ever Best Practices document created in the United States that is trauma-informed by victims themselves. It is entirely victim-centric. It is updated by victims/survivors after each incident of mass violence, and it is always available for free on our website. This guide was culled together by victims/survivors of over two decades of mass casualty crimes so that community responses serve the best interests of the victims and survivors. Our Best Practices have been used as the basis of other protocol documents circulating today.
Finally, we respectfully ask the public, politicians, and nonprofits to stop endorsing the Colorado Healing Fund, its re-victimizing model, and its gaslighting. The Colorado Healing Fund claimed to address "some critics" in its recent Response when they are talking about the voices of mass shooting families themselves. The Colorado Healing Fund is now labeling those they are actively re-victimizing and who refuse to be complacent as “some critics.” In this Response, the Colorado Healing Fund also stated, "we have a moral responsibility to ensure the money goes to those places where it can do the most good." No, their moral responsibility is to fulfill the donor's wishes and give their monetary gifts DIRECTLY to those suffering. This is what donors intended.
Instead of the Colorado Healing Fund, support organizations that believe 100% should go directly to victims/survivors in ways that are open, equitable, confidential, and transparent like Bread and Roses, VictimsFirst, the National Compassion Fund, and other nonprofits across the nation that have opened a true Centralized Victims’ Fund where 100% goes directly to victims/survivors without meddling in anyone's personal finances.