To address the needs of people affected by the Super Typhoon Haiyan – locally known as Yolanda – that hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 international relief organizations in the Netherlands are collectively raising funds on Monday, November 18, 2013. Commercial and public national TV and radio stations work together in the fundraising campaign. In the past week many journalists have asked the question “Will the campaign be a success?” Because it is strange to give references to academic research papers in interviews here are some studies that looked at determinants of giving to disaster relief campaigns.
- A recent literature review by Pamala Wiepking and Marco van Leeuwen on national campaigns published in Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quartely is available here.
- The total amount raised for humanitarian aid depends on the number of fatalities but not on the number of survivors who are affected by the disaster, a recent study by Evangelidis and Van den Bergh published in Psychological Science found. Because so many people in the Philippines are affected we can expect a relatively high amount raised.
- The economy is an important factor for the total revenue of disaster relief campaigns, according to a study by Pamala Wiepking published in 2011. The Dutch economy has just come out of the recession, the Statistical Office announced yesterday.
- More on the economics of disaster relief in this 2007 study by Strömberg.
- Additional analyses of the same data show that campaigns for victims of man-made disasters are less successful, and that campaigns organized in periods of fewer competing campaigns and campaigns receiving government support are more successful. Because the typhoon is a natural disaster we can expect a relatively high total amount raised. The finding that man-made disasters yield lower donation amounts is also reported in this 2010 paper by Zagefka et al. in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
- The perceived efficacy of donations is an important factor: people “find satisfaction from having personal influence in solving a social problem”, Cryder, Loewenstein and Seltman conclude in a recent article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
- The donor trust index published by marketing agency WWAV has been declining steadily since 2012. We do see small pick-ups in the final quarter of each year, however. On the other hand the recent surge of negative attention for compensation of employees for Alpe d’huZes, the annual bike ride in France against cancer, is likely to have depressed the donor index even further.
- A study by Olivola and Sagara published in PNAS in 2009 suggests that “a diminishing sensitivity to increasing fatalities may protect us from being emotionally overwhelmed by large death tolls”.
- A study by Fink and Redaelli published in World Development in 2010 shows that “political and strategic factors play a crucial role in emergency aid allocation as well”.
- Familiarity with disaster victims is an important factor breeding compassion and identification, this 2012 study by Zagefka, Noor & Brown published in Applied Psychology found. Not too many people in the Netherlands are familiar with the Philippines.
- Even seemingly ephemeral and tangential similarity cues such as shared initials have an influence on disaster donations, Chandler, Griffin and Sorensen found in this 2008 Judgment and Decision Making paper.
Update, December 2, 2013:
|When asked to make a prediction about the total amount raised in a TV interview, I replied that the Dutch would give between €50 and €60 million. That prediction was a ‘hunch’, it was not based on a calculation of data. It turned out to be way too positive. The total amount raised by November 25 is €30 million.|
In retrospect, the declining donor confidence index could have prevented such an optimistic estimate. In almost every year since its inception in 2005 we see an increase in donor confidence in the final quarter. The year 2013 is as bad as the crisis year 2009: we see a decline in donor confidence. It may be even worse: in 2009 donor confidence declined along with consumer confidence. In 2013, however, donor confidence declined in the final quarter despite an increase in consumer confidence.