Institutional relief tops $1 billion

In the two years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated much of the Gulf Coast, American foundations and corporations together have donated more than $1 billion for recovery, a new report says.

The corporate sector shouldered more than half of that, giving $519 million, says the Foundation Center’s “Giving in the Aftermath of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes.”

Those corporate donations tended to go for immediate needs, while foundation contributions were more likely to be directed at longer-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Specifically, businesses funded general relief and human services, with foundations focusing on education, health and community and economic development.

About a quarter of the 850 foundations and corporations surveyed gave $1 million or more, the report says, with about one in 20 giving $5 million or more.

The median amount donated was $140,300, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $37.2 million in contributions.

Much of the support came from the South, with more than one in five dollars donated by institutions in Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia and Louisiana.

The Red Cross received 22 percent of all institutional donations, more than any other single organization, the report says, and religious organizations also took in more than a fifth of all contributions.

But rather than sending funds directly to the affected areas, foundations and corporations tended to use intermediary organizations, donating more than eight in 10 dollars to groups outside Mississippi and Louisiana.

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