Within hours of the mass shooting that killed more than two dozen people in Connecticut on Friday, social media channels surged with grief and heartfelt condolences. There also was an avalanche of donations to anti-gun organizations.
"Our site crashed today, and its bandwidth had been boosted after Aurora," said Caroline Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Brady Campaign, a nonprofit organization that lobbies for gun-control laws, referring to the movie theater slaughter in the Colorado town. "Americans are reaching out in extraordinary numbers."
While it is not unusual for nonprofit organizations to see an uptick in donations following a devastating event, anti-gun violence organizations reported on Friday afternoon the number of gifts they had received far surpassed the bump in charitable giving they usually see after mass shootings.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary led to at least 27 deaths, including 20 children, six adults and the shooter. It's the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people and the shooter dead in 2007, according to the Associated Press.
"Today hit me differently," said Maris Kreizman, 34, a book editor who lives in New York who made a $35 donation to the Brady Campaign. "I needed to act and not just tweet about it."
Sarah Hench, director of development at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a nonprofit research and policy organization in Washington, said her organization had a record number of gifts Friday, surpassing the surge that followed the Aurora movie theater shooting that killed 12 and wounded at least 50.
"People are desperate to do something to make sure that this does not happen again, a mass shooting in a kindergarten classroom," Hench said.
Hench said she had no details on the number of new donors or amount raised, except that it was substantially higher than usual.
This year has been especially grim for mass murder, with the Aurora shooting in July and a mall shooting near Portland, Ore., just this week that killed three.
The impulse to help during a time of crisis, especially though philanthropy, can be tricky. Consumer advocates warn about potential charity scams that following natural disasters and similar tragedies and say donors should stick to established organizations.