Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Disaster Fatigue Affects Giving to Cyclone and Earthquake Victims

$27 million, the amount Americans have contributed to US charities to help with disaster relief in Myanmar, sounds like a lot of money, and so does $25 million, the amount contributed to help the Chinese earthquake victims.  Yet two articles describe the amounts as "relatively little" and the result of "donor fatigue."  On May 19, the Washington Post published an article emphasizing the problem of donor fatigue or disaster fatigue.  The article notes that in response to the 2004 Asian tsunami Americans contributed $1.92 billion and in response to Hurricane Katrina donors gave $5.3 billion.  As the disasters pile up, some donors give up trying to help.  The magnitude of the problems can discourage giving.

Caroline Preston, writing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, agrees that the amount raised is small in part because of donor fatigue.  She adds that lower giving may have occurred because Americans distrust the governments of Myanmar and China and because the Myanmar government has blocked aid efforts.  The weak U.S. economy probably also plays a role.  This article lists amounts raised by a number of U.S. organizations and also lists corporate and foundation grants. 



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