Haiti donations exceed $200 million

Nearly a week after the devastating earthquake struck near Haiti’s capital, donations for relief efforts are still pouring in — in excess of $200 million.

Charities, companies, individuals and celebrities across the U.S. have been rallying together in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude quake last Tuesday, and their efforts are paying off.

As of Saturday, $200 million in donations had been raised, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper covering nonprofit organizations. The estimate is based on a survey of 25 charities contributing the largest amounts of money to Haiti.

“You’ve got a bad economy and a disaster outside of the U.S.,” said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “It makes sense that lots of people gave to the Katrina disaster in the U.S., but to give outside of the U.S. like this is remarkable, especially at a time with 10% unemployment.”

Within four days of the crisis alone, over $150 million was raised toward Haiti relief. The response has been even greater than that of Hurricane Katrina, for which $108 million was raised during the same period of time, the Chronicle of Philanthropy found.

The real question is whether this surge of giving will to continue.

Daniel Borochoff, president of charity watchdog group American Institute of Philanthropy, said he doesn’t expect giving to slow down anytime soon.

“It’s going to be a lot bigger,” he said. “If you think about what happened with the tsunami and Katrina where $4 billion was given to Katrina and $2 billion for the tsunami, there’s the potential for a lot more money.”

Charities: The American Red Cross has raised the most money, with nearly $103 million in donations as of Sunday evening, according to a spokesman.

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF had raised $18.2 million as of Monday and Catholic Relief Services had received $13.1 million in gifts and pledges, the Chronicle of Philanthropy said.

Other charities surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy including Oxfam America, World Vision U.S. and Save the Children USA had all received more than $7 million as of Monday.

Text and online donations: Palmer estimated that about half of all donations were online contributions.

“That’s the fastest way of getting money in,” she said. “And most people feel comfortable giving online at this point.”

Nearly two-thirds of donations received by the American Red Cross have been online contributions and 15% to 20% have been through its text campaign, said spokesman Roger Lowe.

The American Red Cross has received more than $21 million in text donations, and the organization brought in more than $500,000 an hour during the Saturday and Sunday NFL games because of its pre-game and in-game promotional messages (“text HAITI to 90999”) featured on FOX and CBS, he said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Feed the Children and World Land Trust are also encouraging cell phone subscribers to send text donations to aid Haiti.

“Technology is making it easier for resources to flow to smaller charities with direct ongoing projects in Haiti…” said Stacie Mann, spokeswoman for online donation system Network for Good, “..organizations that can have a big impact as emergency response turns into rebuilding.”

Corporate giving: Big businesses are chipping in too. As of Friday, U.S. corporations had pledged more than $43 million to relief efforts.

Twenty-two companies — including General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), Amgen (AMGN, Fortune 500), Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) and Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500) — have pledged $1 million or more apiece, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Fifteen percent of total donations to the American Red Cross have been corporate gifts, Lowe said.

Star power: Hollywood is stepping up as well, with numerous stars at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards sporting yellow, blue, and red ribbons to support Haiti relief, and urging viewers to donate.

George Clooney, Wyclef Jean and Anderson Cooper are slated to host a fund-raising “Hope for Haiti” telethon on MTV Friday, and donations will go to Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF and the Yele Haiti Foundation.

“Celebrity telethons do a lot,” said Palmer. “It’s really important to give right now, and things like this are very motivating.”

Along with A-list celebrities, Bill Clinton and George Bush are also taking action. The two former presidents announced Saturday that they will work together to raise money for the cause. To top of page

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