Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt started a fundraising drive for victims of Hurricane Harvey with a goal of $200,000. By the time the drive ends Friday, Sept. 15, the drive will have raised over $33 million.
With several established charity efforts undergoing media scrutiny for how their donations reach those in need, the overwhelming success of Watt’s drive is leading observers to ask some of the same questions.
According to the J.J. Watt Foundation website, every donation will be “put to work for the people in the devastated areas in and around Houston.” However, the foundation has yet to announce any plans on how to distribute their funds.
The foundation’s vice president is Watt’s mother, Connie Watt, who said the foundation will not make any decisions about how to distribute the donations until after the fundraising drive closes.
When contacted by local media outlets, Mrs. Watt referred the questions to Amy Palcic, the communications director for the Houston Texans. Palcic would only say “a thorough plan is being put in place” and that the foundation would disclose more information in the coming weeks.
The media attention the Watt efforts are garnering come at the same time more established charitable organizations are facing harsh criticism.
Dave Martin, a Houston city councilman who represents the flood-ravaged Kingwood area, had some stinging words for the American Red Cross.
“I beg you not to send them a penny,” he said at a city council meeting last week. “They are the most inept unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced.”
In an interview aired on the Fox NFL pregame show, Watt did not address his organization’s lack of experience in handling a project of this scope, nor any potential plans for distributing the donations.
“I take that responsibility [of handling donations] extremely seriously,” Watt said in the interview. “And I’m gonna make sure … that what I do is do right by the people who donated, and by the people who need the help.”