Tsunami Relief

The Chronicle of Philanthropy (January 20, 2005) reported that more than $400-million has been raised by international aid groups in the United States.  To encourage more donations, Congress enacted a new law on January 7, 2005 to allow taxpayers who itemize deductions to claim on their 2004 tax returns charitable cash donations made to qualified charities during January 2005 for relief of the victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Donors’ generosity to relief efforts and the new law have raised concern that relief groups may benefit at the expense of other charities.  President Bush sought to alleviate such concern by urging donors not to "shortchange" other nonprofit organizations and by stating that donations to relief groups should be viewed as "extra help."  However, The Chronicle noted that history suggests that charities can expect a slowdown in giving, but few catastrophies have led to a long-term decline in charitable donations.