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People withhold donations for spill aid

Mos Def, the Preservation Hall Band and Trombone Shorty in a music video for "It Ain't My Fault," which they recorded to benefit Gulf Aid, a nonprofit created in response to the oil spill off the Louisiana Coast. Lenny Kravitz and Tim Robbins also contributed to the song.

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Well BP may end up getting help from rich investors, but the people in the Gulf who are suffering from the oil spill are likely to have only BP and the federal government to help them out. That's because charitable donations to deal with the disaster have been meager.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports they aren't likely to pick up any time soon.


Mitchell Hartman: The massive oil leak is devastating wetlands, wildlife, tourism, fishing. But it's no Katrina, says Stacy Palmer, who edits the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Stacy Palmer: The Gulf oil spill is attracting lots and lots of attention, but very very little money in terms of donations.

Palmer estimates that in the two-and-a-half months since oil started spewing into the Gulf, events like a CNN telethon and direct appeals have raised $10 million. Ten times that was raised for Katrina victims in just the first four days. People donated more for the Haiti earthquake in a matter of hours.

Palmer says it's not that Americans don't care about dying pelicans and unemployed oystermen; they just don't think they should foot the bill.

Palmer: People are very angry at BP, and as a result, they're withholding their charitable contributions. When there's a natural disaster, people feel like there's nothing anybody else could do about it; we all have to chip in. But in this kind of thing, people expect the corporation and they expect the government to do things.

In spite of that, many musicians are still trying their best to raise money. In May, Mos Def, Lenny Kravitz and others produced this music video to benefit Gulf relief.

Mos Def on "It ain't my fault": Mama don't you say, oil and water don't mix, petrolio don't hold good for no fish. It ain't my fault, BP big pimp...

New Orleans native "Trombone Shorty" also plays on the video. I caught up with him at a July 4th blues festival.

Trombone Shorty: I'm trying my best out here on the road to represent the city and keep the awareness going to help out those people affected by the oil spill.

Fellow musicians from Louisiana have already raised $300,000 in one benefit concert. Trombone Shorty expects to play in others in the months to come.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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