News and analysis
March 01, 2010

Fund-Raising Efforts for Chile Off to a Slow Start as Needs Remain Unclear

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Donations are starting to trickle in to aid survivors of the massive earthquake in Chile—but at significantly lower levels than after the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.

The slow pace of donations is largely because the government of Chile is in a better position to deal with the destruction than the impoverished country of Haiti, said a spokeswoman from Oxfam America.

As of Monday afternoon, Oxfam America had raised $3,499 for relief efforts in Chile. Three days after the earthquake in Haiti, the Boston relief group had received $2.9-million.

The fact that the Chilean quake happened over the weekend is also a factor in giving, according to a spokeswoman from World Vision U.S.

In the two days after the disaster in Chile, World Vision U.S. raised $220,000 for relief efforts, significantly less than the $3.9-million the organization had received during the same period after the Tuesday earthquake in Haiti.

Mercy Corps began accepting donations on behalf of Chilean relief groups Monday morning, but is “very much in a wait-and-see mode,” said Caitlin Carlson, a spokeswoman for Mercy Corps.

As of Monday afternoon, she said, the government of Chile had requested assistance from the United Nations, but not from international humanitarian groups. Whether the country asks for such help will determine how Mercy Corps proceeds.

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations, which it will channel to Caritas Chile, the social-service arm of the Catholic Church in Chile.

As of Monday morning, Save the Children USA had raised $30,000, primarily through a Web and e-mail appeal to its current donors.

At this point, CARE USA, which does not have a permanent presence in Chile, is not accepting donations for relief efforts. CARE Germany has given almost $34,000 to a local charity in Chile with which it has worked in the past.

On Sunday, the American Red Cross pledged up to $50,000 from its International Relief Fund to the Chilean Red Cross—if it requests such assistance. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gave an additional amount of roughly $279,000.

Because it was unclear how much, if any, international assistance Chile would request, the American Red Cross has not started a text-messaging campaign to raise money for relief efforts.

Several other charities have turned to mobile giving to raise money for Chile, including Convoy of Hope, Friends of the World Food Program, Habitat for Humanity, Operation USA, the Salvation Army, and World Vision.

Caroline Preston contributed to this story.