Giving for Disaster Relief Declines in 2018, Survey Finds

Giving for Disaster Relief Declines in 2018, Survey Finds

Despite a number of destructive and costly natural disasters, giving for disaster relief efforts has been less of a priority for Americans in 2018 than in 2017, a report from communications consultancy Ketchum finds. 

Based on a survey of a thousand Americans age 18 and older, the second annual Disaster Relief Holiday Giving Study found that 40 percent of respondents were planning to donate to charity this season, down from 49 percent last year, a drop of some 18 percent. The share of those specifically planning to give in support of disaster relief also was down about 18 percent on a year-over-year basis, even though disaster-related damages in 2018 are likely to exceed the total for 2017, with losses from eleven disasters — including the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history — likely to exceed $1 billion. In 2018, 38 percent of respondents said they did not plan to give in support of disaster relief, compared with 29 percent in 2017.

In addition, while disaster relief fell from fifth place in Ketchum's previous survey, in April, of the most popular charitable causes to eighth place, nearly half of survey respondents — comparable to last year's finding — said they were more likely to buy holiday gifts from companies that support disaster preparedness and relief efforts. 

"Twenty-eighteen was a charged year, with many people having very strong opinions about issues they care deeply about," said Monica Marshall, senior vice president and director of Ketchum's Purpose program. "We saw an increase in passionate participation in causes, and even rage-giving. On top of that, the U.S. was inundated with disaster after disaster, and these factors were likely major drivers of the giving fatigue identified by this study."