News & Updates

Wise Giving Wednesday: Disaster Donor Fatigue?

Sep 1, 2021

Disaster Donor Fatigue Blog

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, rescue efforts continue to take place in flooded areas of Louisiana and, as reported, over 1 million are without power which could last several weeks. These challenges and hardships generate concern and sympathy as many are motivated to donate to relief organizations seeking to provide assistance to those in need. It appears, however, we are confronted with a tornado of troubles as the number of disasters continues to mount. There is the continuing impact of COVID-19, the California fires, the Haitian earthquake and now Hurricane Ida. The growing volume of contributions needed to address these various tragedies seems to be ever increasing.

Some are beginning to worry that disaster donor fatigue could emerge and reduce the ability of disaster relief groups as well as other types of charities to raise sufficient funds. This is not the first time this potential problem has been raised. In December 2004, a devastating tsunami hit South Asia and Eastern Africa, followed in 2005, by the now infamous Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans and surrounding areas. Surveys done by AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) showed that three quarters of the responding charities said they raised as much or more during that period than they had in the previous year. As reported in the title of a New York Times article of April 30, 2006, “Many Dismissing Donor Fatigue as Myth.”

While the latest Giving USA Report showed that total giving grew to a record $471.1 billion in 2020, a 3.8 percent increase over the previous year in inflation adjusted dollars, the number of households donating to charity may continue to be on the decline. A study published by Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy which examined giving patterns over the past twenty years showed, that in 2018, for the first time in almost twenty years, only half of American households contributed to charities.

While no one has a crystal ball on how many households will step up to the plate and contribute during the remainder of 2021, one psychological effect of disaster is to serve as an emotional reminder of the important role philanthropy serves in delivering help where and when it is most needed. 


Video of the Week

As part of the Building trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a view interview with Sheri Lamber, President and CEO, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Virginia (a BBB Accredited Charity) that grants wishes to children with critical illness.  As reported by the organization, wishes are often transformative for the entire family, providing parents, siblings, and the children with something to look forward to, and then something joyful to remember.


Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features Part 2 of our Anniversary Compilation of the first podcast season. We revisit some of the memorable episodes to learn about what drove our esteemed guests to a career of service and giving.


Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to www.give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance