Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Adriene Davis
Center on Philanthropy

Last modified: Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Giving for hurricane relief exceeds Sept. 11 contributions

$2.96 billion sets record for disaster relief giving

Dec. 13, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- Charitable giving to aid victims of Gulf Coast Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma has now reached more than $2.96 billion, setting what is believed to be a record for U.S. private philanthropic giving for a single disaster relief and recovery effort, reports the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Total giving in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 reached just over $2.8 billion, according to a report compiled by The Foundation Center.

"When disaster strikes, Americans instinctively want to help, and when the tragedy hits close to home, the response is especially strong," said Gene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. "The vast scope of the long-term recovery and rebuilding and the fact that many Americans from across the country have gone to the area to help and returned with stories of tremendous needs mean it's likely that we will see contributions continue for some time to come."

Although the center's tracking includes giving by individuals, corporations and foundations, the true total value of the contributions for the hurricane victims is almost certainly even higher than $2.96 billion and may never fully be known, Center on Philanthropy officials said. Many people provided one-on-one, direct assistance to individuals or groups -- such as loading cars with supplies and driving them to the devastated region or taking displaced families into private homes -- that will not show up in tallies of giving.

"The outpourings of generosity from the American people after both Sept. 11 and the Gulf Coast hurricanes have been remarkable," said Patrick Rooney, the center's director of research. "Giving for the Gulf Coast region may be higher in part because of the extent of the damage, and because almost everyone knows someone who was affected or who lives in the region. It's especially noteworthy that hurricane relief contributions have reached this level in just three and a half months."

Americans have responded generously to multiple natural disasters this year. The Center on Philanthropy's tracking indicates that in addition to the $2.96 billion raised for Gulf Coast hurricane victims, U.S. based organizations collecting aid for disasters have received nearly $1.8 billion for relief and rebuilding after the Dec. 26, 2004 Asian tsunami and more than $78 million to aid victims of this fall's earthquake in Pakistan and surrounding areas.

While giving for the three disasters-- the tsunami, the Gulf Coast hurricanes and the Asian earthquake -- currently totals approximately $4.83 billion, this amount is equivalent to only about 1.9 percent of total charitable giving in the U.S. in 2004, which was estimated at $248 billion by the Giving USA Foundation.

There have been widespread discussions of whether giving for these disasters and "donor fatigue" may decrease contributions to nonprofits not providing disaster relief this year. Research conducted by the Center on Philanthropy and other organizations after Sept. 11 indicates that some non-relief nonprofits may experience short-term downturns in donations, but for most organizations those effects are not expected to have a long-term impact.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice through research, teaching, public service and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising, and management of nonprofit organizations. The Center and the Philanthropic Studies faculty conduct basic and applied research about contemporary and historical issues in philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, the nonprofit sector, giving, fundraising, voluntary action, and public policy issues linked to philanthropic activity. A part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the Center operates programs on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses.

For assistance, contact Adriene Davis at 317-278-8972 and For more information about the Center on Philanthropy, visit