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Donations to Hurricane Katrina Victims Near $600 Million


As the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the private Foundation Center has issued a report saying U.S. corporations and foundations have given close to $600 million for relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Region and that number is expected to rise in coming months.

The Foundation Center's report tracks the contributions made by philanthropic groups and evaluates the role of corporations in response to one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history.

The non-profit research group identified 435 corporations, foundations and other institutional donors that have committed more than $577 million to relief and recovery efforts. The majority of funding was given for humanitarian services after the initial fallout from the hurricanes.

The director of research at the Foundation Center, Steven Lawrence, says although most of the giving occurred immediately following the disaster, many of the corporations that responded were making contributions for long-term objectives.

"Some of the commitments made that were completed within a short time frame were looking ahead to long-term recovering and rebuilding," he said. "And, in addition to this, we are also seeing continuing contributions coming in."

One example of a long-term commitment Lawrence says was $18 million from the Chevron Corporation to support education in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Lawrence says the report put to rest concerns about so-called "donor fatigue" as researchers found that donations to Gulf Coast relief efforts were not affecting other areas of giving.

"The critical question in terms of the 9/11 response and really with any of the disasters since the tsunami response in particular, the question has been raised, 'Is this impacting other areas of giving?' What we found based on a question to survey participants in 2005, 'Did your giving in response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Katrina and Rita reduce giving for other programs?' The vast majority of respondents, about 84 percent, reported that their Gulf Coast response giving had no effect on the other giving they had planned for the year," he noted.

Lawrence says donors surveyed told researchers they think private groups will continue to play a role in long-term recovery of the Gulf region.

"In the case of the Gulf Coast response, we know that it will be many years before New Orleans has really returned to what it was before the hurricanes struck," he added. "Therefore, we are certainly anticipating that there is going to be a longer commitment among institutional donors to various aspects of this response and we certainly expect to see it extend over many more years."

This is the second report in a series of three full-scale reports by the Foundation Center, detailing contributions to the relief effort. The final report is due out in September of next year to mark the second anniversary of the disaster.