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A good next step: separate accounts

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opinion Wadena,Minnesota 56482
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A good next step: separate accounts
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

Right now, there are a lot of people who still have Wadena's tornado tragedy on their minds and want to give.

Let's face it, both of those conditions are temporary.


One of the thing holding some people back is they're not sure where the money is going to go. As of today, the fund at Mid Central Federal, for which the city of Wadena has been fiscal agent, will be going to a long-term recovery group, headed by the Rev. Rob Nelson. This group will likely be most interested in helping people who suffered devastating losses than institutions or buildings. And rightly so.

A second pot of money is being collected by the Initiative Foundation, and they will look to the city of Wadena for guidance as to how to direct that money.

The city has said clearly in regard to both pots of money it doesn't want the responsibility for administering the funds. Not only does city staff has its hands full, it doesn't want to play referee with the money.

Both the Initiative Foundation and Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council have said they will host the money, but also don't want to be the ones to decide how to direct it.

There's a simple solution here: break the funds down into many accounts, each raising funds for something specific. Have a fund for the Wadena County Ag Society. Have one for the school. Have one for the Hockey Association. Have one for the community center. Have one for businesses, one for individuals, one for public properties like parks. Make them as specific as possible.

Why do this? Two reasons.

First, it makes the unenviable task of splitting up the money later very, very easy. If there are 30 accounts, the donors can choose themselves how to divvy up their gifts.

Second, people tend to give more and fund-raise harder when a specific cause is identified. Maybe for some, it's trees for Wadena (which is a very specific cause, and doing quite well already.) Maybe it's the Humane Society, or a swimming pool, or a helping hand for an underinsured business to entice them to rebuild.

Separate accounts, each with their own account number, mailing address and web portal to give, would take a lot of the guesswork out of distributing the funds, and would likely lead to more generous donations now. Seems like a win-win.