What’s cutting into donations to Chile?

Jeff Tyler Mar 2, 2010

What’s cutting into donations to Chile?

Jeff Tyler Mar 2, 2010


Tess Vigeland: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited earthquake-ravaged Chile today. She brought with her 25 satellite telephones for use in areas where communications are still down. And she promised more aid. Argentina, Brazil and Peru have also sent assistance. As have nonprofits and charities from all over the world.

But as with previous one-two-punch disasters, there is concern about donor fatigue with the Chilean crisis coming so soon after the tragedy in Haiti. Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports.

JEFF TYLER: Compared to the relief effort for Haiti, charitable giving for Chile’s earthquake victims has been slower.

UNA Osili: Donations to Chile have not been very significant. I think, so far, only about $500,000 raised.

That’s Una Osili, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She says the smaller number of fatalities in Chile — and its geographic distance from the U.S. — may have cut into donations.

Plus, Chile itself initially sent the wrong signals.

Osili: If the government comes out early to say, “we don’t really need very much help,” that’s obviously going to have an impact on the intensity of the fundraising effort.

But not everyone is disappointed with charitable giving for Chile.

RANDY Strash: We noticed a spike in online visits as early as 6:30 in the morning on Saturday.

Randy Strash coordinates fundraising for the charity, World Vision.

Strash: We’ve raised $450,000. That’s as of yesterday, noon, which is pretty good for a weekend and half a day.

In the short term, World Vision is distributing blankets and medicine. Eventually, the organization will help Chile reboot its economy.

Strash: There’s a secondary disaster that occurs after a major disaster, and that’s all these businesses come to a screeching halt. And people don’t have work to go to, and they don’t get paid.

The real donor fatigue may still be to come. Once an issue fades from the media spotlight, it attracts fewer donations. Rebuilding in Chile, as in Haiti, will take at least five years.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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