May 14th, 2010
07:47 PM ET

$1.3 billion donated for Haiti relief

Despite the economy, donors opened their wallets to give more than $1 billion in the first four months of the relief effort in earthquake-devastated Haiti, a generous response for an international disaster.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University estimates that donors contributed $1.3 billion - about the same amount raised for the 2004 Asian tsunami - to 96 private charities like the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund.

Though it is less than the $5.3 billion generated after Hurricane Katrina, the center's executive director, Patrick Rooney, said the Haiti response was huge.

He said Haiti's proximity to the United States and extreme poverty may have tugged at American hearts.

"I think it's a little surprising that response was as strong as it was," Rooney said.

He said the economy did not influence giving, since most people donate small amounts that don't require a reallocation of household budgets - the average gift was $50.

About one-third of the total amount went to the American Red Cross, which raised $444 million, according to a list compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Red Cross collected some of its money by allowing people to text a $10 donation from their mobile phones.

Thousands of aid agencies are currently working in Haiti as 2 million Haitians are enduring the rainy season in makeshift camps and struggling to buy food and provisions.

But Rooney expects donations for Haiti to drop off precipitously. They always do when media coverage fades and aid agencies shift from emergency operations like food drops and medical care to longer-term recovery measures.

"We're a nation with a short attention span," Rooney said. "Three to six months after a disaster, donations approach zero."

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Filed under: Earthquake • Haiti
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. jayell

    ARGWING S and Elaine ask where did the money go? Even before the money gets into the hands of the Haitians, the first mistake for any type of effort like this is using the American Red Cross. If you look at their website, the bulk of any money donated goes to cover their overhead FIRST!! Then, just because a donor stipulates their donation is to be used for a specific cause, the Red Cross clearly states that they use the money as they deem necessary. Therefore, if they felt they needed money to help the earthquake victims in California (happened shortly after the Haitian earthquake), then that is where they channeled the funds (after their overhead expenses were paid). The same holds true with Katrina. Just ask any one from Lousiana or Mississippi exactly how much they've actually received from the money that was donated for their relief. That said, I still say it's time to let someone else help the Haitians now and we need to concentrate on our own problems - just do your research on how the charities allocate funds and donate accordingly.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James

    LockandLoad.......The cotainers were stollen from the US when the first shipments of "Aid" came in....... Haitians being Haitians.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jean Pe ( Haitian Author)

    The billions of dollars are in the pockets and hands of the U.S. again. Taking care of their troops in Haitians lands and anyone who in Haiti working in favor of SOME foreigns best interests.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JON


    May 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim McKinley

    If so much has been donated for Haitian relief, why is the situation so terrible in the health care system? I saw a television program that said only one hospital was open in Port O Prince and that it's facilities were extremely poor. If there is so much money, why hasn't it been allocated to allieve this problem?

    May 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick A

    Well our country steals so much from others,so sometimes we feel a bit guilty and have to give some back.
    have you ever wonder how we got to so prosperous.

    May 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. steve

    first who cares about haiti, maybe the reason all there buildings fell down was because they were made of dirt. and why have we already given them 5 billion dollars over the last 5 years from some fund clinton started. you know why america is going down hill cuz we help everyone else before our own were the best worst country

    May 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DrObama

    It's not enough. This is exactly why we need our Federal government to control Health Care, Banks, Auto, Mortgages, and the rest of private money. Our government knows better than these private citizens who have donated to Haiti relief. Let government decide what to give, how to give, who to take from, and who to stop from speaking.

    May 15, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. Michelle

    In response to Pat – the USA needs to learn to stop overpsending in order for us to help them. Look at the aid katrina received. New Orleans was well fed and rebuilt. We do help the people in the USA you guys just need to be better at spending your money and stop wasting it on $2500 apartments in Manhattan where it could go towards food for three months.

    May 15, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Michael

    By the way, did any of you saying that "America is too gracious and should worry about our own country" think that the statistics are not only from the American citizens? You realize that citizens of different countries contributed a lot and that celebrities had a great role in providing for this cause – as a great chunk was from that behalf.

    Consider it..

    May 15, 2010 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shirley

    Although it is inspiring to hear the all the money going to help all the Haitians in need, it is also saddening when i think about how much of that money is really going towards helpin them. It is disgusting when i think of what kinds of people could corrupt what little the Haitians do have.

    May 15, 2010 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. Shirley

    To Steve. People need to stop blaming other countires for OUR countries economic downfall. There is abolutely nothing wrong with helping others way worse of than you. And to answer your question, "Who cares about Haiti?" Apparently millions of America's fellow citizens who had a heart.

    May 15, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. Orlando22

    Thanks America

    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

    May 15, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. shiloh

    i have not seen any improvement where is the money goes

    May 15, 2010 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ana

    99% of aid money goes to American corporations who supply building materials and equipment.

    May 15, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
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