Americans gave more money for Katrina, and in a shorter period of time, than they did for the victims of 9/11. But contributions to disaster relief are slowing to a trickle. The Red Cross is now struggling to meet its $2 billion Katrina target, while donations to CARE for Pakistani earthquake relief were off by as much as 90 percent in the first few days following the catastrophe, especially when compared to the South Asian tsunami.

“Donor fatigue” is the explanation of choice for the...

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