• January 29, 2015

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

Damage to Chile

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Marcelo Hernandez/LatinContent/Getty Images

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.


1. beverlyfreeman - March 02, 2010 at 03:05 pm

The disparity is really troubling. I would like to think the media has been even handed and the news from Chile is really "not as bad" as it seems. Has Haiti been so visibly poor for so long that we assuage our guilt by energetically responding to all appeals?

2. help9262 - March 02, 2010 at 04:41 pm

We need to rethink the way we raise and distribute money for disaster relief. Relatively little of the money raised for Haiti has been distributed and spent. That is neither bad nor good. Haiti will have continuing needs for years to come because of the earthquake.

When horrific disasters happen back-to-back as they have occurred in Haiti and Chile, then there should be flexibility in being able to use remaining funds raised from one humanitarian relief effort for another.

Appeals for donations should be worded carefully, so that audiences understand that their gifts will be used for this current relief effort, and possibly for others should another sudden disaster occur.

3. bill__huddleston - March 03, 2010 at 05:35 pm

I'm sorry, but why is this even a story? The Chronicle itself pointed to this story on February 28th about Chile not wanting international aid (subsequentally updated but for very targeted items, satellite phones, electric generators, etc.):

some early lessons from the earthquake response in Haiti ยป

February 28, 2010
Chile may not need or want foreign assistance
This is an edited and updated repost of a previous post. This post was updated following Chile's request for specific international assistance on Monday.


When a disaster strikes and the news show images of people in need, its natural to want to donate. However, before giving it is important to understand that international assistance may not always be needed or welcomed by that country. Currently Chile has not requested international assistance in responding to the 8.8 magnitude earthquake.* They feel that they have the capacity meet immediate needs. Whether they decide to accept assistance in the future will depend on their assessment of the full extent of the damage. Linke to New York Times:

I agree that we may need to rethink how charities respond to international disasters, but what is demonstrably true is that the Chilean earthquake while stronger on the Richter scale, did much less damage than the Haiti one which was devastating in its effects on both the residents and the Haitian goverment itself. Why would anyone expect the response to be the same? The disasters were different in scale, and with the few exceptions noted above, assistance hasn't been requested by the Chilean government.

Bill Huddleston

4. submitarticle - March 19, 2010 at 03:29 am

Is the end of the world will happen in 2012?

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