KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Of all the calls that came Pati Chasnoff's way during a Kansas City, Mo., telethon for Haitian earthquake victims, one stood out.
The caller made only a $10 contribution but paid for it with her unemployment benefits debit card.
"I was so touched," Chasnoff said. "The woman said, 'This is my last $10.' "
The rapid outpouring of support for Haiti has amazed the philanthropic world, especially when the recession has so many Americans struggling financially.
The response matches the giving that followed the Asian tsunami and the 2005 hurricanes when America's economy was more robust, according to Jennifer Furla, executive vice president at Jeffrey Byrne & Associates, a Kansas City nonprofit consulting firm.
"I would guess many people would be surprised at the swiftness (with which) people have reacted, as well as the depth," said Furla, who is a board member of the Giving USA Foundation.
As of midday Friday, Americans had donated more than $377 million for Haiti, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
"It is amazing to see how much money has been raised and mobilized in such a short amount of time," said David Renz, director of the Midwest Center on Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Renz and others say several factors have coalesced to make it happen.
Technology has played a huge role. People cannot escape the alarming images, and texting makes giving easier. Other factors are Haiti's proximity and its ties to the United States.