Causes

U.S. generosity after disasters: 4 questions answered

After 9/11, Americans responded with the kind of outpouring of generosity usually reserved for the most powerful hurricanes and earthquakes. Ever since those terrorist attacks, we’ve tracked donations from people, businesses, and foundations after natural and man-made disasters.

Here are the questions we are most asked:


1. How quickly do donations roll in?

Most Americans who donate to support disaster relief act quickly. They give to charities that can help with relief efforts when they see photos and video clips that capture the fury of the storms and the devastation wrought by hurricanes and earthquakes.

Americans typically make these donations within six weeks of a big disaster, when media coverage is the most intense. Their contributions usually slow to a crawl within two or three months and typically dry up by the six-month mark, once the cameras stop rolling and news cycle moves on – even as the needs remain significant.

Giving after Hurricane Katrina marked an exception to this rule. The cumulative total donations for relief efforts after that storm almost doubled from the second month to the sixth month, rising from $2.2 billion to almost $4.5 billion.


2. How much do Americans give after disasters?

While massive donations from celebrities get the most attention, most of these disaster relief contributions are small and from people you’ve never heard of. Almost half of Americans reported giving money to charities for disaster relief after Katrina, and almost three-fourths donated after 9/11, we found.

Read the full story at The Conversation.

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