Non-profits worry about donor fatigue after Harvey and Irma

Many have seen charitable giving go down after people gave once or twice to storm relief efforts

Volunteers with the Red Cross help out in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (KXAN Photo)
Volunteers with the Red Cross help out in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — First Harvey, and now Irma — Americans have been very generous in helping with relief efforts after the major storms ravaged large parts of Texas and Florida. However, many non-profits are worried about “donor fatigue” and want to remind people their support will still be needed for months to come.

Marty McKellips, CEO of the American Red Cross of Central and South Texas says Texas is already feeling an impact in giving toward Harvey relief less than a week after Irma hit Florida.

“Donations have slowed a little bit,” McKellips said. “It’s understandable, because people have already given to us once. But, we must continue to support the people in the other parts of the country.”

The Red Cross and other non-profits in central Texas want people to remember that Harvey is a disaster that will take months to clean up, and continued support will be needed throughout the recovery process.

At the same time, some local non-profits worry their operations could suffer. Many times after major natural disasters, people only think to give to organizations working directly with those impacted. But other non-profits still need support to continue carrying out necessary community work, and many say they’ve felt a dip in giving since Harvey hit.

“Support the non-profit that you’ve always been supporting,” said Suzanne Stone, CEO of Susan G. Komen of Austin. “We need your support now more than ever. The number of people we will need to serve because of this is going to only increase.”

Even with all of the donations the Red Cross is receiving for hurricane relief, the organization is still in need of funding to help respond to local disasters, such as house fires.

“We absolutely worry about donor fatigue, and we understand it,” McKellips said. “People have already been very generous to us. But, we know that we have to continue for the rest of this year to do what we need to do, and the money that’s designated to Harvey can’t be spent for those activities.”

Austin-area non-profits say even if they’re not directly helping rebuild along the coast and in Houston, they’re likely still serving evacuees and others impacted by the storm here in Austin.

“Anytime something like this happens, it will impact every single pocket of the community,” Stone said.

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