In 2004, the South East Asia Tsunami killed around 225,000 people; Americans responded by donating 1.92 billion dollars in aid. In the last month, the cyclone in Myanmar (130,000 dead or missing) and the earthquake in China (60,000 dead or missing) have combined to kill nearly 200,000 people; Americans have responded by donating… 12.1 million dollars:
Charities know this as “donor fatigue,” but it might be more accurately described as disaster fatigue — the sense that these events are never-ending, uncontrollable and overwhelming….
Compared with disasters like the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, those in China and Myanmar have generated just a trickle of aid. As of Friday, Americans had given about $12.1 million to charities for Myanmar, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The group said on Monday that it was too soon to count contributions to China….
This problem came up after the 2004 Asian tsunami, an event that brought an avalanche of $1.92 billion in charity from the United States, according to the Giving USA Foundation. Hurricane Katrina eight months later generated even more, $5.3 billion.
But then fatigue seemed to set in. The earthquake in Pakistan that killed nearly 80,000 people generated just $150 million from Americans. And the Guatemala mudslide shortly thereafter that killed at least 800 was virtually forgotten.
If one disaster can be galvanizing, several in a row can be paralyzing.
I don’t want this to be a guilt trip, and I know money is tight for everyone right now, but please consider giving anything you can (for instance, through World Vision); we can do a lot better than this.