Haiti donations exceed $305 million

By Blake Ellis, contributing writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Eight days after the devastating earthquake struck near Haiti's capital, donations for relief efforts are still pouring in -- in excess of $305 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 Wednesday afternoon, over $305 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 29 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."

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

Within four days of the crisis alone, over $150 million was raised toward Haiti relief. The response was even greater than that of Hurricane Katrina, for which $108 million was raised during the same period of time, the Chronicle of Philanthropy found. But as of eight days, Haiti donations were trailing behind Katrina's impressive $580 million by about $275 million.

"Americans may lose interest in Haiti sooner than they did for Katrina," said Daniel Borochoff, president of charity watchdog group American Institute of Philanthropy.

While Borochoff said he expects that giving will pick up as new problems in Haiti are reported, it will be easier for Americans to distance themselves from the crisis as time passes.

Charities: The American Red Cross has raised the most money, with nearly $137 million in donations as of Wednesday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy said.

Partners in Health had received more than $25 million by Monday, and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF had raised $22.5 million as of Tuesday.

Catholic Relief Services had brought in $17.4 million in gifts and pledges by Wednesday, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, rounding out the top four in the survey.

Other charities surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy including the William J. Clinton Foundation, World Vision U.S., Save the Children USA and Oxfam America had all received more than $8 million as of Tuesday.

Text and online donations: Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, estimated that about half of all donations have been online contributions.

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

As of Tuesday, more than 60% 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 $25 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.

Other groups encouraging cell phone subscribers to send text donations to aid Haiti include The Salvation Army, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Feed the Children and World Land Trust.

"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 Tuesday, U.S. corporations had pledged more than $83 million to relief efforts.

Thirty-six 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.

American Red Cross said Tuesday that 15% of total donations had 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.

During a star-studded Larry King Live two-hour special Monday night, Haiti: How You Can Help, CNN viewers donated nearly $9 million to both UNICEF and the American Red Cross.

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, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has raised $12.7 million as of Wednesday, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. To top of page

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