US Crisis – Charities in the Big Picture
Monday, 1st October 2001 at 1:10 pm
More than $US550 million has poured in to US charities in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, spurred on by an unprecedented use of the Internet for online donations. At the same time the American philanthropic world has been forced to rethink, juggle and readjust its operations to cope with the changed circumstances.
The major philanthropic news sources in the US, PNN and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, have highlighted the enormous outpouring of financial and practical gifts to charities directly involved in helping victims and rescuers in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.
Here are just a few of the amazing statistics that have emerged since the terrorist attacks.
American Red Cross has, to date, raised $US199 million for emergency relief.
As much as $US56 million of that was raised through on-line donations dwarfing any previous Internet fundraising efforts.
The most any US charity has previously raised on-line in a single year was $US2.7 million by the American Red Cross in 1999 which included relief efforts in Kosovo.
Red Cross has had to strengthen its Web infrastructure to cope with the extra traffic and has encouraged donors to give money through other registered sites such as AOLTime Warner, Amazon.com and Wells Fargo Bank.
In just six days after the attack, $US25 million was raised from some 360,000 individuals providing an average-sized gift of $US68.
The ePhilanthropy Foundation said shortly after September 11, that without a doubt this fundraising effort was the single most significant use of the Internet for philanthropic purposes in history.
General fundraising efforts appear in staggering proportions.
More than $US110 million has been donated to the special “September 11th Fund” created by the New York Community Trust and United Way of New York City.
A two-hour telethon called “A Tribute to Heroes” broadcast on 35 television networks raised an estimated $US100 million.
Foundations and corporations have given more than $US128 million in grants to organisations not associated with American Red Cross or the September 11th Fund.
The Salvation Army estimates that is has raised more than $US20 million.
Some of the notable corporate donations include $US10 million from Microsoft and another $US5 million from IBM. Atlantic Philanthropies (which is assisting with the setting up of Ron Clarke’s CEPA Trust in Australia) has also donated $US10 million.
Many more millions have been pledged by dozens of other major corporations with many agreeing to match employee contributions to the fund as well.
Who will manage and distribute all this money? According to the Philanthropy News Network, United Way and the New York Community Trust are working with city, state and federal agencies as well as Not for Profit organisations to determine where and when the funds will be distributed.
PNN reports that all contributions, that is 100% of each donation, will be applied to provide the help needed.
Other Charities Halt Fundraising
So while dozens of charitable organisations are receiving record donations, many other types of charities in the US have put on hold plans to solicit funds.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy many charities have decided it is highly inappropriate to continue with telephone and mail campaigns that are not associated with disaster relief.
It says the human rights charity; Amnesty International has cancelled two major fund raising events planned for the next few months.
The national Multiple Sclerosis Society has postponed a gala ball which would have brought in $US600,000 for the charity.
The American Heart Foundation went ahead with its National Heart Walks campaign last week and donated the first $US250,000 it raised to the New York Fire Fighters 9-11 Disaster Fund.
The American Association of Fundraising Counsel says some charities may need to revise the content of mail appeals, phone calls and special events to acknowledge the terrorist attacks. For example removing the word ‘celebrate’ from invitations marking the start of campaigns.
And back here is Australia, State Governments have alerted consumers to be on the look out for bogus relief funds trying to cash in on the US tragedy.
Australians have been targeted by sham e-mails asking them to donate money to what are fake charities.
The Victorian Government says requests have come from spam e-mail or online requests under titles such as “Express relief Fund” or “Victims Survivor Fund”.
The Australian Red Cross is handling local donations for forwarding to American Red Cross.
If your organisation has a connection with the US disaster relief funds, tell us your story online at our Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.