Americans Aren’t Really Donating Money to the Ebola Outbreak

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Boxes of aid for Ebola patients donated by Ghana’s president and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States at the airport in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 15, 2014. 
Cellou Binani/Getty Images

With all the ice buckets that got thrown over heads this past summer to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS), you’d think people would have that same zeal to fight a more immediate humanitarian crisis like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, but the New York Times is reporting that donations for Ebola from Americans have been trickling in at a glacial pace. 

“Compared to the rush to donate after major disasters of the last decade or so, charitable giving to address the Ebola tragedy is almost nonexistent, and the relief agencies that typically seek donations after a catastrophe are mostly silent,” the report explains.


That’s right: Disaster-relief observers are saying that one of the reasons donations have been low is that nonprofit organizations have not been as vocal and adamant about asking people to donate money for Ebola.

Another reason boatloads of money haven’t been raised, experts are speculating, is that the outbreak doesn’t have a visual impact to it—like, say, an earthquake, tsunami or the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on 9/11.

“Perhaps it lacks the visual drama of a natural disaster,” the New York Times explains.

Also, money doesn’t seem to be connected to the solution, while millions of dollars would go far toward cleaning up a wreckage site or restoring tsunami-damaged communities. According to the report, though, donations spiked in September when it became increasingly clear that the epidemic was getting worse and funds would be needed to contain it.


“It is harder for people to understand what their money can do to fight a disease with such a high mortality rate and no sure treatment,” the report noted. “It is not even clear that providing food, housing and protective equipment will have any impact—or how those things will get where they are most needed.”  

Read more at the New York Times.

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