Minnesota Freedom Fund raises over $20M but spends $200k to bail out protesters, Internet demands transparency
The fund is one of many across the country fighting against America’s cash bail system, which disproportionately impacts lower-income people
In the weeks since the onset of the protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American at the hands of police, the Minnesota Freedom Fund gained popularity as many people, including celebrities took to donating to the nonprofit dedicated to posting posts small cash bails for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them.
The fund is one of many across the country fighting against America’s cash bail system, which disproportionately impacts lower-income people. Without the resources to pay bail, these people must remain in jail until their trial — effectively giving them a prison sentence before they’ve been convicted of a crime. With celebrities including Janelle Monae, Padma Lakshmi, Seth Rogen, and others matching donations, the Minnesota Freedom Fund raised over $20 million in four days since the onset of the recent protests. With the overwhelming donations, the non-profit stopped actively soliciting donations and encouraged people to donate to other funds.
Steve Boland, treasurer of the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) and managing partner of Next In Nonprofits, a St Paul-based consulting firm, estimated that the donations and counting, from more than 900,000 individual donors, as well as corporate gifts and donations from donor-advised fund (DAF) accounts and via workplace giving portals, like Benevity, according to The Non Profit Times.
However, social media is asking for more transparency from the group after MFF's official Twitter account recently tweeted, "Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone. We are working on doing more." One user tweeted, "You received upwards of [millions]. Where is that money? Other bail funds who have received MUCH less have done DAILY reports on their spending. We want to see numbers now." Another wrote, "Minnesota Freedom Fund has gained [millions] in donations and had stated they have only distributed a little over 200k to bail out front line protestors, wait till tomorrow morning."
One user wrote, "Let me get this straight...[million] dollars in donations for bails but $200k has only been used. I might not be a mathematician but something isn’t adding up. We need a breakdown of where the other monies will be going." Another user opined, "This white run organization allegedly collected [millions], and only used $200k to actually bail out protesters. Those of us in the real Black grassroots have been getting folks out of jail on our own. This is why we have to stop the coopt #NoAntiBlackRacism."
MFF's Twitter account has since tweeted, "Appreciate all those calling for transparency. We see y’all. Our values and mission have not changed since 2016. Be on the lookout for things coming on our end. Be well." A user responded, "How are you “working on” it this late in the game? It’s been two weeks since this has started, you couldn’t mobilize any more funds, or commit excess/unused funds to other organizations? Or is that not a priority for your majority white board?"