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GuideStar Blog

Jeffrey Byrne

Recent Posts by Jeffrey Byrne:

In the Face of Disaster, Americans Respond with Their Hearts and Minds

National disasters bring out the best in the character of America's citizens, as they rush to the aid of victims of catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. As professional fundraising consultants, we are often asked about the impact of such disasters on fundraising for other philanthropic needs.

Not surprisingly, the news is good. Americans respond with their hearts and their dollars but don't do so at the expense of other worthy causes. According to Giving USA, overall giving increased by 5 percent in 2004, a year heavily affected by the tsunami. But this increase did not occur at the expense of other charities.

Most charities saw giving increase in 2004, although some shifts did occur. Recipients in health care saw the greatest increase while those in the human services sector experienced a slight decline. Yet in spite of one of the earth's greatest disasters, charitable giving domestically still increased.

Now that we face the most significant natural disaster of our time, Hurricane Katrina, followed so soon by Hurricane Rita, concerns are again raised. How will hurricane relief efforts affect total charitable giving in the coming year?

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the hundreds of thousands of people and their families that have been devastated by these natural disasters. Second, we want to encourage Americans to continue to give and to be wise in their giving. Proper stewardship of these generous gifts will help all philanthropic organizations for years to come.

The Importance of Listening and Why People Give: In Every Contact, a Billionaire's Gift

This article originally appeared on

To the general public, tax benefits top the list of why people give to charity. But is that what motivated Joan Kroc to leave an estate gift of $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army—one of the largest gifts to a single organization?

In a 1998 article reporting how Joan Kroc gave $80 million that year to the Salvation Army's San Diego Corps for a community center, Joan recalled how her husband used to dress up as Santa Claus during the holidays and ring the bell for Salvation Army donations on the streets of San Diego.

Sure, the Krocs had known wealth, but what did the Salvation Army do to motivate what were at the time the two largest gifts the organization had ever received?