The Impact of 9/11 on Philanthropy
According to a Sept. 2, 2011 CNNMoney report, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 inspired Americans to help their neighbors in need like never before by donating billions of dollars to families that lost family members during the 9/11 attacks.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Americans donated $2.8 billion to meet this need. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the southern U.S., donors were conditioned because of 9/11 to step forward to help in a big way. In fact, Americans donated $5.3 billion to this relief effort.
In addition, Americans gave almost $2 billion to tsunami relief efforts in 2004, $1.5 billion to Haitian relief efforts in 2010 and approximately $250 million to Japan for relief aid in 2011. According to Dr. Una Osili, director of research for the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, Americans truly help Americans when there is a national disaster. More than 66 percent of U.S. households donated to assist survivors of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina compared to 30 percent of households who gave to victims of the Indonesia tsunami.
The wonderful news is that many Americans gave willingly to assist those in need after 9/11. That said, however, many 9/11 charities were under scrutiny for failing to raise money for victims, according to a Huffington Post report dated Oct. 15, 2011. The report noted that an investigation by The Associated Press of 9/11-related charities 10 years after the 2001 attack showed that many of the nonprofits failed miserably in getting donated funds to victims.
The AP report also noted many charities chose to spend 9/11-directed funds on themselves, could not account for gifts received, had few documented results to show for efforts and some still did not file appropriate tax returns. The good news is the AP report stated that most of the 9/11 charities fulfilled their missions even though others still struggled to meet their original 9/11 missions.
It is important to note that a Huffington Post report from Sept. 11, 2012 indicated that many 9/11 survivors and victims’ family members still required financial assistance. Children of those killed on 9/11 needed college scholarship funds, first responders were dealing with catastrophic illnesses and injuries, and memorial sites required funds to honor the fallen from that day.
Charities noted in that report that still solicit donations include:
Tuesday’s Children: Provides emotional support to 3,000 children affected by terrorism
VOICES of September 11: Continues to commemorate the essence of 9/11
New York Says Thank You Foundation: Galvanizes 9/11 responders, survivors and victims’ families by completing service projects throughout the country
9/11 Memorial & Museum: Honors memories and educates visitors by reflecting and reviewing 9/11 exhibits
Action America: Channels grief into good deeds by enabling supporters to get involved with a number of causes or organizations for good
Michael Lynch Memorial Foundation: Named for a fallen 9/11 firefighter, gives 9/11 children of fallen families educational grants to pursue higher education
9/11 Day: Mobilizes Americans on 9/11 to volunteer on that day for good across the country
Graybeards: A Queens, N.Y. basketball team and first 9/11 charity, hosts a variety of activities to support 9/11-related projects
FealGood Foundation: Named after an injured 9/11 worker at Ground Zero, assists other injured first responders with medical care finances and education to improve their long-term situations
It is important that any potential donor do research to determine if the $1 you give to charity for the intended purpose is actually going toward meeting the need.
Many American donors are emotional in nature. It takes a significant event for them to mobilize and contribute in a major way. Over time, a large number of donors do become conditioned to only support natural disasters. I worked with an agency that generated 4,000 new donors in one year because of a disaster and yet these donors would not become regular annual donors to the organization. They are, in effect, waiting for the next major disaster to strike.
All of us were affected by the events of 9/11 in a way that makes us be “on guard” for philanthropy now and in the future. The good from 9/11 is that Americans gave significantly in time, talent and treasure to others in a dramatic way. Let’s continue to show the world why Americans are leaders in the world of philanthropy. That is one of many reasons I am proud to be an American on 9/11.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.