Charities Mobilize Fundraising for Hurricane Relief

While the flood waters in New Orleans rose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, so did charitable donations as nonprofit organizations kicked their relief efforts into gear.

Though the American Red Cross continually accepts online donations for its general Disaster Relief Fund, the organization put up information on its home page Aug. 29 specific to Hurricane Katrina and created a Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund. The organization had collected $132 million with an average gift of $142 between both funds as of 5 p.m. Aug. 31, and donations were still coming, Red Cross spokeswoman Sarah Marchetti said.

The Red Cross also raised $4.5 million through an e-mail blast to about 800,000 of its existing donors Aug. 30. Another e-mail effort begins this week, Marchetti said.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army has surpassed $1 million in donations at its toll-free number 1-800-SAL-ARMY, according to Grizzard Agency, which acts as the organization's call center. As of 11:21 a.m. CDT Sept. 1, the number of telephone donations since Aug. 29 was 5,685, totaling $1,127,595.40, and the average gift was $198.35.

Grizzard does not work on Salvation Army's online fundraising, and calls to obtain Internet donation figures were not immediately returned.

However, Grizzard is also involved in the Salvation Army's direct mail fundraising and helped ready a campaign that was to drop Sept. 2 to at least 375,000 house file donors in the Alabama/Louisiana/Mississippi division, as well as campaigns in the group's Georgia and Texas divisions. The Salvation Army is organized into divisions by region.

“The Salvation Army is definitely gearing up to do what seems to be a pretty big acquisition mailing,” said Chip Grizzard, CEO of Grizzard Agency, Atlanta. “The first division to contact us was the one that serves Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. It has since expanded to Texas and Georgia for sure, but they are also talking about an acquisition mailing to the whole Southern territory that includes 15 states.”

Grizzard added that his firm is also discussing banner ads and radio spots with the Salvation Army but so far none have been put into play.

Grizzard also handles direct mail for the Red Cross and said a nationwide mailing is being planned.

“I don't know how big it will be yet,” he said, “but it will be a pretty significant disaster mailing.”

Though Grizzard said he had seen no statistics for online donations, he now expects giving to be strong despite what he initially thought.

“When it first hit I was thinking that it would be a relatively minor event in terms of the need for fundraising,” he said. “Then 24 hours later it was like 'holy cow,' and it will get worse before it gets better. The fact that it will take so long to recover will mean that it will linger in the news, so the trail-off will be significantly extended.”

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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