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Does the Media Affect How Much We Give?

Does the Media Affect How Much We Give?

Have you ever considered how much the media influences charitable efforts? A 2006 study from The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, uncovered that the specific media coverage of the devastating 2004 tsunami heavily influenced charitable donations. To most people this would make sense of course, if you know about the tragedy, then you know that the organization is in dire need of the monetary assistance for specific relief efforts.

However, the numbers were quite astounding. For just one 700-word story in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times or donations increased 18.2%, while a single minute of media coverage boosted donations up 13.2%!

As the editor of Get Rich Slowly writes, people were given convenient ways to donate with links on both the Google and Amazon home pages that directly sent web surfers to the donations page, helping Amazon raise more than $2.5 million dollars to help those in need.  She also notes that in 2012 the American Red Cross raised over $300 million dollars for relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy took the East Coast by surprise.

Nonetheless, when critics came out showing that the efforts by the organization were actually quite substantial, it was leaked that relief wasn’t properly provided because the organization, according to internal reports, was “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” which may have completely backfired. In an effort to spread the word about the Red Cross, they failed to actually accomplish their mission.

In light of both of these events and the research done at the University of Michigan, Get Rich Slowly posed the question to their readers: How Does Media Coverage Affect Your Charitable Donations?

The answers may surprise you.

According to most of the 36 responses on the blog that is for the fiscally responsible, not even specifically for volunteer minded folks, people seemed un-phased entirely by the media.

Most claim that they had, or other people should, set aside funds from their salary for specific charity causes throughout the year and that media didn’t affect their contributions. Many people also responded that they were interested in learning on their own how the charities would be spending their money, turning to sites such as or Charity Navigator and allowing that to guide their donations.

Surprisingly, many people seemed more interested in their local charities and organizations, rather than large groups that provide blanket assistance all over the country. It’s great to see that more people are becoming interested in the local community they live in, and how it prospers around them.

So what do you think?  Does the media have a way of affecting how you give to charitable organizations? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!

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