NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Terrorism Fears Place Extra Burdens on Charities

November 9, 2001

Managers of charitable groups say their organizations have been adversely affected in several ways by the events of Sept. 11. Fundraising events have had to be postponed or canceled. Donations are dipping because of the economy. Collections for the victims of terrorism are siphoning funds from traditional charities.

Now the anthrax scares are altering direct-mail solicitations.

  • The string of anthrax-tainted letters in the mail system has shut down post offices in parts of the country and disrupted mail deliveries.
  • Even when the mail gets through, some people are afraid to open envelopes.
  • Those fears are prompting organizations to redesign their solicitations -- making sure the organization's name is clearly displayed, switching from white to colored envelopes because all the known anthrax-tainted letters came in white envelopes, and replacing letters with postcards.
  • Some groups are switching to solicitations on the Internet -- bypassing the mails altogether.

Officials of some groups say giving is definitely down during the busiest fundraising quarter of the year. Small non-profit groups say they face a tougher sell than large charities because they rely mainly on individual donations, whereas the larger ones solicit gifts from corporate foundations and large donors.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Charities Are Reporting Slow Season for Giving," USA Today, November 9, 2001.


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