- In response to the recent tsunami, Americans crashed the Web sites of several charities, including Oxfam America, in their eagerness to donate ... This was a response to a monstrous, perhaps unprecedented disaster. But it was not atypical.
According to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, Americans gave $241 billion, or 2.2 percent of GDP, in private charitable contributions in 2003. The United Kingdom, the world's runner-up, saw 0.8 percent of GDP go to private charitable giving. And this understates charitable giving because it doesn't include volunteer work, which according to Independent Sector amounted to $266 billion worth of time.
Private foreign aid donated by Americans also exceeds government foreign aid. U.S. Agency for International Development official Carol Adelman calculated that in 2000 the government sent $22.6 billion of foreign aid overseas, while private aid came to $35.1 billion.
All this is significant because private aid usually gets to recipients more efficiently than government aid, largely because private organizations are generally more flexible and resourceful than government.
That's the buzzword of the moment. So has America given enough to tsunami victims? And why are so many so quick to define a nation's generosity by what its government offers to the needy? This OC Register editorial unloads on those who overlook private giving: