Most 9/11 charities fulfilled mission to give aid

More than a third of the hundreds of new charities created after the 9/11 attacks are still operating, although many have transformed into nonprofits promising to help veterans, victims of other tragedies or some other unrelated cause.

The Associated Press examined 325 charities born from the disaster, focusing on organizations that trumpeted a mission of helping 9/11 victims, memorializing the dead, or trying to rebuild a broken city.

Of the $1.5 billion in donations tracked by the AP, the greatest share went straight to the victims' families. Tax records show 92 nonprofits distributed more than $722 million to victims and relatives of the attacks, including 21 charities created by New York City fire stations that benefited the widows and children of slain firefighters. Most of those nonprofits closed after the initial infusion of money ran out, tax records show.

Other organizations broadened their mission, doling out aid to Hurricane Katrina survivors or victims of other disasters, or extending services to the general public.

For example, The America's Camp Foundation, a summer program initially for children of 9/11 victims, expanded to include the children of any slain police officer. The 911 Foundation, founded to assist food service workers hit by the New York attacks, contributed more than half of the $123,000 it raised to Hurricane Katrina victims and general food aid programs in disaster zones. A group called CultureNow, which tried to boost tourism to Lower Manhattan by creating and distributing a map of cultural attractions, moved on to mapping Harlem.

One of the largest charities, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, accounts for more than $516 million of the $1.5 billion reviewed by the AP. That nonprofit will operate the museum and memorial complex that serves as the nation's main monument to the New York City victims.

The AP found 46 charities that had been stripped of their tax-exempt status as part of an IRS housekeeping effort this summer, targeting groups that had stopped making mandatory tax filings.

Another 26 charities created since the terror attacks still have their tax-exempt status, but never got off the ground, or failed to file even an initial tax return.

If a charity raised less than $25,000 annually before 2008, it was not required to file with the IRS as it is today.