Compassion for Haiti: How Long Can It Last?

04/08/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Three weeks after the Haiti earthquake, experts at the leading aid group, World Vision, say the impact of a crippling recession and high unemployment on disaster donations has surprised them. The charity's disaster fundraising expert, Randy Strash, says Haiti is an example of "compassion resilience," or Americans' ability to remain generous in a mega disaster even as the economy makes giving difficult.

"To many Americans, the Haiti quake feels more like Katrina than the Asia tsunami. Haiti is right on our doorstep, many of us have traveled there or have family there. It feels closer, so we give more sacrificially, even in these tough economic times," Strash explained.

World Vision, which has worked in Haiti for 30 years and began distributing aid within 24 hours after the quake, has raised more than $30 million in the US so far. This is roughly five percent ahead of the charity's Asia tsunami fundraising at the same stage in the response.

World Vision, like many aid groups, has promoted a $10 text giving option -- another new technology that invites more people to give, even as it sacrifices the potential for larger donations.

"We know many people giving by text are capable of a $20, $30, or $50 donation," says Strash. "But part of World Vision's mission is to help more Americans get involved in fighting poverty and saving lives -- especially during mega disasters like the Haiti quake. Options like text giving allow us to invite more people to be a part of moments like this, when every donation counts."

The Christian humanitarian organization warns it is too soon to tell if charities will reach the amounts raised during the tsunami.

"Rebuilding Haiti will take years, not months," says Edward Brown, World Vision's senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs. "Compassion fatigue is not an option for our aid workers on the frontlines, and we are asking our donors and the public to stand with us for the long run as well."

To date, a total of more than $30 million has been has been received. World Vision is appealing for at least $50 million in the United States alone for its emergency and long-term recovery response in Haiti. World Vision donors in the U.S. contributed $68 million after the Asia tsunami; most of that total was raised in the first several weeks.

To Donate to Haiti Earthquake Relief:
Log on:
Call: 1-888-56-CHILD
Or Text: "Give" to 20222