06 September 2005

Unprecedented giving......

Even when our government fails us, the will, courage, and generosity of the people becomes a bright beacon of hope:

Donations for Victims of Katrina Reach $404-Million

Americans have given at least $404-million to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The pace of giving is unprecedented in recent American history. In the 10 days after September 11, Americans donated $239-million to charitable causes, and in the 9 days after the tsunamis hit, major American relief groups raised $163-million.

As of Saturday, the American Red Cross, in Washington, had raised $302-million, a jump of more than $106-million over Friday's total. By comparison, a week after the South Asian tsunamis, the American Red Cross had raised $79.2-million.

"It's overwhelming," says Sarah Marchetti, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. "People are just pouring their hearts out, and making a donation is an expression of that."

The Lilly Endowment, in Indianapolis, has been one of the biggest foundation donors to the relief effort. It has given $10-million to the Salvation Army and $10-million to the American Red Cross.

For its hurricane relief, the charity has received several large corporate contributions, including $3-million from the Chevron Corporation, in San Ramon, Calif., $2-million from Exxon Mobil, in Irving, Tex., and $2-million from Bayer, in Leverkusen, Germany.

So far, the Salvation Army has garnered $24.5-million total in donations for hurricane relief. By Friday morning the organization had received $1.7-million through its toll-free telephone line. The average size of those gifts was $205.

The Salvation Army previously estimated it would require $50-million for its response to Katrina, but it now says the need will exceed that amount. "We can't even put a number on it," says Major George Hood, the charity's spokesman. "The devastation will exceed September 11." After the 2001 terrorist attacks charities raised more than $2.2-billion.

Catholic Charities USA, in Alexandria, Va., has raised more than $2-million for relief efforts. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked local parishes to take up a special collection that the charity will use to support its response to the hurricane.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the Internet has also proved to be an important source of gifts. By Saturday, $168.4-million had been donated through the Red Cross's Web site, out of the $302-million the group had raised overall. On Tuesday the charity sent an e-mail appeal to 700,000 supporters, which raised $4.5-million. On Thursday, the organization sent a follow-up solicitation to those supporters who had not opened the first appeal.

The search engine Yahoo and online retailer Amazon.com are also collecting donations to the Red Cross through their Web sites, as they did after the earthquake and tsunamis that struck South Asia last December. By late Saturday afternoon, Yahoo had collected more than $47.7-million, and Amazon had collected more than $6-million.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which has raised more than $3-million, had to move its Web site to more powerful servers to accommodate the volume of donations coming into the group's two hurricane-relief funds. "We had to change the provider to manage the volume," says John G. Davies, president of the foundation. "It's been coming in fast and furious."

For a number of groups struggling to keep up with the pace of donations, the amount raised online is the only total they know for sure.

Operation Blessing, a Christian relief organization in Virginia Beach, Va., has received Internet gifts totaling more than $500,000.

Other nonprofit groups are unable to provide any estimates of giving.
Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, in Alpharetta, Ga., does not yet have a tally of the amount it has raised for relief efforts.

Ron Patterson, executive director of Christian Disaster Response, in Lake Alfred, Fla., says he expects Americans to give generously for hurricane relief, but worries that the disaster's effect on gas prices will hinder fund-raising efforts. "How many donations can you make when you're paying $3 a gallon?" he asks.

Among the results from other organizations responding to the disaster:

The United Methodist Committee on Relief, in New York, has raised $570,000 from donors giving through its Web site.
America's Second Harvest, in Chicago, has raised more than $1.5-million. The organization has 37 tractor trailers of food and supplies on their way to the affected region, with 25 more scheduled to leave this weekend.
United Jewish Communities, in New York, has raised more than $1.5-million.
Network for Good, a San Francisco charity whose online giving site allows donors to contribute to any charity, has processed $6.2-million in online donations for hurricane-relief efforts since Monday. On Thursday the site processed just over $3-million in relief gifts, the biggest one-day total in the organization's history.
The Humane Society of the United States, in Washington, has raised more than $500,000 for relief efforts to rescue and care for animals left behind in the disaster.

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