Charitable Response of Americans to
WTC Attack: Generous, or Simply Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?
October 15, 2001
Americans have sent nearly $900,000,000 to the various charity funds set up
to help victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The
universal acclaim we have afforded ourselves for generosity, however, may
not be so well-deserved.
First of all, there are 105
million households in the United States. So the average donation per
household to WTC charity is less than $9. That doesn't seem like much
of a sacrifice, does it?
Second, there may be no
sacrifice being made at all. The New York Times reports
that contributions to small charities throughout the nation have drastically
declined in the weeks since September 11. For example:
- the Make-a-Wish Foundation
in Cleveland used to average $2500 a day in donations. Now they
- the Washington, D.C.
annual AIDS walk raised one-third of the amount it did last year
- an agency that runs three
shelters for the homeless in Houston reports donations down 35%
As a result, charity
organizations and programs such as these across the nation are being forced
to lay off staff and turn down people seeking assistance.
This is at a time when
layoffs and other economic disruptions from the terrorist attacks have
actually increased the number of Americans requesting help these smaller
So while sending money to
charity groups to aid the World Trade Center and other September 11 victims
is admirable, let's not pat ourselves on the back too quickly. Robbing
Peter to pay Paul is nothing to be proud of.