Rewards and Donations
Chapter 6

Key Points

1. Most parents will want to put up a reward in an effort to turn over every stone in the search for their missing child, even though it is not known whether rewards actually help in cases involving a missing or abducted child.

2. Use a reward offer to renew media interest in reporting on a missing child or to motivate a person living on the fringe of society to call in a lead.

3. Be prepared for resistance from your law enforcement contact because of police fears that the reward offer will result in a torrent of false leads.

4. Because of the number of legal and technical issues that can arise from a reward offer, you need to obtain expert advice from a knowledgeable attorney, your law enforcement contact, your banker, and the parents of missing children who have successfully established a reward fund. Make sure that the people who give you advice have firsthand experience managing a reward fund.

5. Your reward offer can become a legally enforceable contract, which means that anyone who complies with the terms of the offer can be legally entitled to claim the reward and can sue for its recovery.

6. Monetary pledges are not as reliable as donations.

7. Don't use personal funds to finance the reward, and don't offer more money than you can raise.

8. Keep separate bank accounts for each type of fund -- reward, family support, or search -- and maintain accurate records showing where each monetary donation came from and how the money was spent.

9. Avoid having direct control over any funds received by designating trusted individuals outside the family to have signature authority over the accounts. By removing yourself from control of the funds, you eliminate any unnecessary scrutiny by members of the public or the media about the use of the funds.

10. Establish written procedures detailing how the money is to be dispensed if it cannot be used for the reward.

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OJJDP Report: When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, May 1998