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Why less giving to Pakistan flood victims?

September 3, 2010

c/o NPR.org

The Indiana University Center on Philanthropy study profiled in this NPR story was quite striking – Americans have given to Pakistan flood relief efforts only a fraction of what they gave to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts – only $25 million versus $900 million!  The three reasons offered up are:

First, people don’t like to give to floods as much as other natural disasters.  Why is that?  I find the victims of the floods to be just as sympathetic – is it some kind of idea of earthquakes being more sudden or unexpected?

Second, the media hasn’t covered the crisis in Pakistan as much as other situations around the world.  I’m not sure why this is the case.  Although there are fewer casualties from the floods, there are more people whose homes and livelihoods have been ruined – and that should be reported on.

Finally, Americans’ perceptions of Pakistan and their feelings about the current New York City mosque debate may be dampening their enthusiasm to give to this part of the world.  This is the main reason I suspect that people want to look the other way.  All this talk of war in Afghanistan and terrorists on the border with Pakistan has made people hesitant.  But, there are certainly enough well-known, legitimate charities out there doing relief work – American Red Cross, World Vision, etc. – that donors should have confidence about where their dollars are going.

Just a reminder, here is our post from a few weeks ago about where to give for Pakistan flood relief.

And, if you’re in Canada, the Harper government will match your donations until September 12th!  Canadian Red Cross here I come!

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