Monday, November 07, 2005

Which disasters do people donate aid to?

An interesting article in the Washington Post looks at which disasters compel Americans to donate aid. There are a lot of disasters that happen around the world (Katrina, the Pakistan earthquake, civil war in Sudan), and some receive a lot more donations from private American citizens than others. It is not surprising that US disasters get more donations than non-US, but some are more puzzling (the immense giving for tsunami aid last year). The author has a few rules for the disasters that provoke the most giving:
  • Natural disasters beat manmade disasters (e.g. victims of hurricanes and tsunamis generally attract more donations than victims of war and other politically caused crises like Sudan & Uganda)
  • Sudden disasters beat slow-moving crises (a sense of urgency mobilizes donors in a case like Katrina, whereas the devastation of a famine is so gradual)
  • TV counts (e.g. videos that allow viewers to imagine themselves at the scene make a huge difference)
  • Drama and timing play an important role (e.g. the Southeast Asia Tsunami occurred during the US holiday season)
  • Ease of giving makes a big difference (i.e. over a fourth of the dollars received by the Red Cross following Katrina came in through its Web site.)
  • Personal experience helps (people have visited New Orleans but have a hard time picturing a Pakistani village)
  • Disaster giving doesn't supplant donations to other causes (just because people give to disaster relief does not mean they give less to their regular charities)

(Source: Private Sector Development Blog)

8 comments:

Brian Zabell said...

Whatever the media tells us to.

Gregory Bylos said...

Haha, although I hate to say it, I have to agree with Brian on his point about the media. The media does play a major major role in determining what disasters Americans will donate aid to and even pay attention to. Although the author of the Wash Post article does make some very good points, I think that the most important factor of how much aid given is the coverage it gets.

Anonymous said...

Alright guys, I know the media plays a role in how information gets out...but I really think that more donations are given to the disaster that has an effect on YOU! I know this is pretty bad to say, but even though there were tens of thousands that died in the Asia tsunami, I think more people gave donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was in the United States..all of us were effected by the Hurricane beacuse we accepted students from New Orleans.

Even though the media does have an impact on people, the amount of money donated comes from how YOU FEEL about the disaster.

Paul Moustoukas

Anonymous said...

Alright guys, I know the media plays a role in how information gets out...but I really think that more donations are given to the disaster that has an effect on YOU! I know this is pretty bad to say, but even though there were tens of thousands that died in the Asia tsunami, I think more people gave donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was in the United States..all of us were effected by the Hurricane beacuse we accepted students from New Orleans.

Even though the media does have an impact on people, the amount of money donated comes from how YOU FEEL about the disaster.

Paul Moustoukas

Anonymous said...

I think that more people give donations to sudden disasterous (sorry about the spelling) events because people realize how quickly and randomly their life could be taken away. People empathize with the victims and put themselves in the victim's shoes. People realize how horrible it would be to all of the sudden have NOTHING! That is why i think people give more money to sudden disasters.
Kristen Henderson

mr.arjonaisnotajerk said...

p.s. this is my new name
_kristen

Anonymous said...

I was actually wondering this the other day when that earthquake hit over in the east. Im not sure if it killed more or less than the tsunami but it was still an overwhelming number. Both were instant disasters, both were far enough away that they had no direct effect on us personally, and both were natural disasters. But why did we pay more attention to the tsunami? No question, I think it was the plublicity it received. I heard of the earthquake one or two times on the news and that was it. The tsunami, on the other hand, controlled the news channels for weeks. I beieve I gave to the tsunami funds and not the earthquake's because it was advortised to me. By comparing two similiar diasters, I feel that it is the media that determines where our money goes.

Anonymous said...

^ by David Hale ^