08/09/2010 02:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Few Donate For Oil Spill Relief Compared To Other Disasters

The disastrous April 20 oil spill claimed 11 lives and sent millions of gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil killed or contaminated marine life, damaging the natural habit and pushing families who rely on the Gulf out of work. Nonprofit organizations responded by calling for support from small and large donors to restore the coastline, save endangered wildlife and support struggling Gulf families.

Yet, unlike other recent natural disasters in the U.S. and abroad, reports the oil spill did not generate an outpouring of donations from the American public.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that six weeks after the April 20 Gulf rig blast, about $4 million had been donated to relief efforts, compared with more than $580 million within eight days of Hurricane Katrina and more than $560 million within 17 days of the earthquake in Haiti.

Experts attribute the lack of donations to the fact that the disaster is caused by human error, instead of a force of nature like an earthquake or hurricane. Some have also suggested that the Gulf oil spill's low death toll made it seem less tragic and urgent to many Americans.

"It is true that donations are significantly less than other natural disasters, mainly because most people believe that BP is to blame for this manmade disaster and they should be responsible for cleaning it up," said Eugene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and a nationally recognized expert in the study and practice of philanthropy and nonprofit management.

Donations from private individuals aren't the only ones lacking -- corporations and foundations, who usually contribute millions, have also been reluctant to write a check. BP and the federal government are expected to foot the bill for relief efforts.

Check out HuffPost Impact's list of ways to help the Gulf.