After the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti nearly a year ago, Americans donated more than $1.4 billion to assist survivors and help the impoverished country rebuild, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. According to the Chronicle's survey of sixty major relief organizations, roughly 38 percent of the money raised for relief and recovery efforts have been spent.
While generous, the total falls short of the $1.6 billion Americans contributed in the year after the Indian Ocean tsunami as well as the $3.3 billion raised for post-Katrina relief and recovery efforts. However, the share of Haiti donations that has been spent is roughly the same as the amount spent after the tsunami. A year after Katrina, charities had spent about 80 percent of the donations received.
The percentage of funds spent in Haiti varies widely by organization. By the end of November, the American Red Cross had committed $188 million of the $479 million it received in private donations, and it expects to have committed another $57 million by the one-year anniversary of the quake on January 12.
Although the unspent funds have fueled criticism that charities are moving too slowly in Haiti, disaster relief and recovery experts say the rate has been appropriate. "There are some environments in which you just can't spend a lot of money quickly. And Haiti is one of them," said Peter Walker, director of Tufts University's Feinstein International Center. "If you want to fuel corruption, then sure, go ahead and pump a huge amount of money in."