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Disaster giving tied to cause, location

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People are more willing to donate money after disasters caused by natural factors than those that could be avoided, a new study says.

Research by Hanna Zagefka and Masi Noor of Royal Holloway, University of London, found people are more likely to donate when the victims cannot be blamed for their situation and if they are perceived to make an effort to improve their own conditions.

Also influencing the desire to donate money to help disaster victims, researchers found are the belief a donation will make a “real difference,” empathy for victims, and the scale of the disaster.

Political allegiance to the victims’ country is also considered when people make donations.

If the affected country is viewed as a friend rather than a foe, then the donation level is higher, the researchers found.

The research, which included two experiments and a survey, involved   532 participants ages 17 to 48.

Participants were asked to respond to a scale measuring their inclination to donate money to different situations, including the 2004 tsunami in Asia and the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

They also were given the opportunity to make actual donations.

The study found people were more willing to donate money to aid victims of the tsunami than those of the conflict in Darfur.

The Disasters Emergency Committee received 200 million British pounds, or $394 million, for the 2005 Tsunami Appeal in contrast to the 11.5 million British pounds, or $22.7 million, donated to the Darfur crisis since May 24, 2007.

According to Oxfam, the 2004 tsunami killed 169,000 people and left 600,000 homeless.

In Darfur, the conflict has left 4.5 million people reliant on humanitarian aid.

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