Nov. 24—People from around the nation are holding in-person and online fundraisers for victims and families of the Club Q mass shooting Saturday night in Colorado Springs.
While the state has an official online donation site, the Colorado Healing Fund, a private online drive, also has become one of the largest appeals.
Good Judy Garage in Denver, an LGBTQ business, raised $25,000 in two hours after starting a GoFundMe drive on Sunday. The initial goal was upped to $50,000 and now is at $750,000, as donations continue to pour in. Contributions were at nearly $679,000 Tuesday at https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-the-club-q-families-and-survivors.
Business owner and fundraising organizer Faith Haug said she's been surprised by the support.
"We were hoping to raise a few thousand to help, but the response has been overwhelming," she said.
Haug said she was meeting with a lawyer on Tuesday for advice and direction on how to manage the funds to "make sure they are used in the best way possible."
Five people were killed in Saturday's shooting and another 18 injured before two bar patrons overcame the shooter.
Contributions from Haug's GoFundMe will be used for funeral expenses, medical expenses or other expenses the families of those murdered or injured have to face.
"Funds will be used for respectful services for the murdered, and support to the injured, and hopefully the club itself," the appeal says.
The reason for the generosity to this particular drive?
"I think because we are a well-known local queer business that the community trusts," Haug said.
Also, many donors asked that the money not be given to the Colorado Healing Fund, she said.
"They are unhappy with how funds were handled for other tragedies," Haug said. "We are respecting the wishes of our donors and have no further comment on the CHF fund."
The Colorado Healing Fund (https://www.coloradohealingfund.org), which was started in 2018 by a group of victim advocates and community leaders as a secure way for the public to contribute to victims of mass casualties, takes a 10% cut for operational costs.
"It allows us to sustain our nonprofit organization, so that we're able to be here to support people after a tragedy happens," said Executive Director Jordan Finegan.
The fund has been promoted by Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers as the best way for people to financially assist victims and their families.
Club Q's official donation site is funneled through the Colorado Healing Fund, using a portal at Colorado Gives 365. That organization hosts requests for funding for hundreds of nonprofit organizations statewide.
The amount raised through Colorado Gives has topped $600,000, Finegan said. Donations from corporate sponsors and individuals also are coming in, she said, but she didn't have an exact total on Tuesday.
"This is our main reason for existing — responding to mass casualty events," Finegan said. "The fund allows us to (be) able to provide immediate, intermediate and long-term support after a tragedy happens."
The fund infused $50,000 for Club Q victims and families immediately after it was activated following Saturday's shooting, she said. Travel costs are among the expenses families are receiving money for.
"It was created to help be here one, three, six years after an event because research shows those are critical times throughout recovery from the trauma," Finegan said.
The Colorado Healing Fund was activated after three mass casualties last year, she said.
Efforts raised $4.8 million after the February 2021 mass shooting at a King Soopers store in Boulder.
Donations of $32,000 came in following the May 2021 Mother's Day shooting in Colorado Springs. Colorado Healing Fund added seed money from the state Attorney General's Office to boost the total to $75,000.
A December 2021 shooting at a tattoo shop in Lakewood raised $72,000, which was upped to $82,000 from the fund.
Donations to benefit the Club Q victims have been strong, Finegan said.
"People have been generous; we're really humbled by the response and the amount of people who are donating," she said. "It's a real testament to the community and the support of not only Club Q but the LGBT+ community as well."
On her online appeal, Haug writes that the fundraising is "not a competition" and that money raised from Good Judy Garage will be handed over to a local LGBTQ-run organization that will "help us manage the funds and make sure they go directly to the victims, without taking a major percentage for themselves."
The organization has not yet been named.
There are six other verified GoFundMe appeals, including some for specific families, at https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/colorado-springs-club-q-shooting.
The state's Crime Victim Compensation program, which in Colorado Springs is run through the 4th Judicial District, also helps victims cover expenses and losses not picked up by insurance companies, with payouts up to $30,000.