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Average Disaster Donation Is $83

Almost one-third of U.S. households made a disaster-related donation during 2018—with an average gift of $83—totaling some $3 billion, according to a new report on disaster giving. But, disaster-related funding by 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations decreased by about $50 million from 2017, based on a year-over-year analysis of grantmaking.

The seventh annual report, “Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy,” released by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) draws on 13 data sources to estimate $76 billion in private, public, corporate and individual giving to address disaster and humanitarian crises in 2018. The report also includes a survey by Candid, CDP, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

The report noted Hurricanes Michael and Florence, three volcanic eruptions, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia, California’s most devastating wildfire season in terms of loss of life, and continued civil unrest in Syria and Yemen.

Each year, the CDP and Candid examine global disaster-related funding from foundations, bilateral and multilateral donors, the U.S. federal government, and corporations and donations through donor-advised funds (DAFs) and online platforms.

CDP identified $468 million in funding by foundations and public charities for disasters and humanitarian crises, based on Candid’s database. That estimate includes transactions by U.S. and non-U.S. donors.

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Natural disasters accounted for 52 percent of this disaster funding. Support continued for those impacted by 2017 hurricanes and addressed 2018 Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

Half of the dollars went toward response and relief efforts and 12 cents of every $1 went toward reconstruction and recovery, a majority of which was focused on storm recovery. Only 2 percent was allocated for resilience measures and 4 percent for disaster preparedness measures.

Top motivations for giving were the scale of the disaster and the number of people affected, personal connections to the location of the disaster, and media coverage.

In 2018, 5 percent of households donated to support recovery from disasters that occurred in 2017, which was the costliest year of major natural disasters in the U.S. on record. In 2018, the U.S. experienced the fourth-costliest year of major natural disasters on record in 2018, including wildfires in California and Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • 35 percent of households donated to both disaster-related and non-disaster-related activities;
  • 22 percent of households donated to U.S. disasters;
  • 7 percent donated to disasters that occurred outside the U.S.; and,
  • Among households that made a charitable donation, 4 percent allocated all their charitable contributions to disaster-related activities.

The survey was conducted online in March 2019 about household charitable donations in support of disaster aid efforts in 2017 and 2018. A total of 1,243 households completed the survey.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed $11.2 billion for U.S. disasters in 2018, a $4.4-billion decrease from a record-breaking 2017 for natural disasters in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $34.5 billion in recovery efforts in 2018 for disasters that took place in 2016 and 2017, a substantial $31.8 billion increase from 2017.

Corporate giving programs committed approximately $206 million to disasters and humanitarian crises, through both cash and in-kind donations.

Individual donors contributed $25.2 million through donor-advised funds (DAF) managed by Fidelity Charitable and $9.2 million through those managed by Vanguard Charitable.

Many individual donors also gave through online platforms, including Network for Good and GlobalGiving. Network for Good helped direct $10.3 million in donations to disaster-specific nonprofits in 2018. GlobalGiving raised $9 million for disasters, supporting 276 projects in 2018.

This article first ran at The NonProfit Times. 

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